In this podcast, Dr. Nammy talks about how root canals can be harmful if not done correctly. Then, she explains how lasers can eradicate bacteria and make root canals safer. She also discusses removing your tooth versus getting a root canal.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. And author of the bestselling books, Age with Style: Your Guide to a Youthful Smile & Healthy Living, and Total Wellness: Understanding the Link Between Your Teeth and Your Health. Today, our topic is Alternatives to Root Canals. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John. Thank you for having me.
What Is a Root Canal?
John: Sure. Dr. Nammy, what is a root canal, first of all?
Dr. Nammy: John, a root canal is when we have to go in to the tooth and take its nerve out. And the reason we have to do that is most commonly it’s because of bacterial overgrowth. So, like a large cavity or a filling that’s thrown into a crown, that ends up as a root canal next. Or if we have something, we have trauma to the teeth and the teeth starts eating itself away, and it’s almost like, we don’t know why, but these cells just start eating the tooth away. It’s almost like cancerous cells are in the tooth. That’s one reason.
The third thing is resorption. So again, when the tooth starts eating itself away, because if the teeth were really moved too fast because of braces or something along those lines, the nerve is affected and there is either a really harmful bacteria in there or there are harmful cells that are inside that need to be eradicated. And that is what a root canal is, is that the inner layer of the tooth needs to be removed, whether it’d be bacteria or cells that have overgrown capacity for some sort of a reason. And that’s really what we want to think about as a root canal.
Are Root Canals Harmful to the Body?
John: And can root canals be harmful to your mouth overall health and to your body? And why?
Dr. Nammy: Root canals can be harmful to the body if they’re not done properly. If root canals are done with modern tools and techniques, they actually work really well, especially if you are able to utilize lasers to eradicate all the bacteria, even the resistant bacteria. We find that lasers work really, really, really, really well in being able to clean out all the bad bugs into the nerve of the tooth, and that yields to great success rates without any risk for cancer or without any risk for systemic diseases.
The other thing that’s really important for root canals is that they are monitored. If they’re not monitored, the biggest concern we have with root canals is they can fracture and that can lead to problems down the road. And so, if root canals are done properly with lasers, they can last a really long time. And if they’re monitored, that’s really great as well.
So, you’re probably thinking, Hey, Dr. Nammy, that’s not what I’ve heard before. I’ve heard canals are really bad, and yes, they are if they’re not done properly. All the things that we’re reading are from the past, from 20 years ago when we didn’t have the tools in technology to be able to clean out really well, we didn’t have the ability to be able to even test these bad bacterias. So, after root canals are done, we can actually test if we have any of these bad bugs in the mouth, which is pretty darn awesome. And so, we can now mitigate the risks for root canals significantly.
And the main reason I’m a big advocate for saving your tooth, even if that means a root canal, is because in the peritoneal ligament we actually have stem cells. And those stem cells are really, really, really important in the overall longevity and function of our whole bodies. And that’s one of the reasons I’m a big advocate of keeping the teeth and doing root canals safely. And I want to really address safely done by an experienced person underneath the microscope with lasers, so that it can work really well. It can mitigate the risks. There are zero risks if it’s done that way. And then, continual testing to make sure that the root canal was done successfully and there are no pathogenic bacteria that are linked to cancer.
Alternatives to Root Canals
John: Are there some alternatives to root canals though that can have a similar effect for you?
Dr. Nammy: The best alternative to root canals is really doing the root canal safely. That would be number one. And number two, the alternative to root canals is extraction. And after the extraction is done, we are looking at doing an implant or a zirconia implant after that. That is the alternatives to root canals.
My alternative, honestly, to traditional root canals is doing it through with a laser, doing it properly, testing to make sure there’s no pathogenic bacteria that are still existing, that I feel like is the number one way we can be sure that we have done the work properly. Number two, mitigated all of our risks.
It’s Healthier to Keep the Tooth
John: And you’re able to keep your tooth in that case. And you’re saying that it’s generally healthier for your mouth to have your original tooth in your mouth rather than-
Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: My pleasure, John.
John: And for more information about green dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call 415-433-0119.