ROOT CANAL

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The Roots of Disease: Connecting Dentistry and Medicine

By Robert Kulacz, D.D.S. and Thomas E. Levy, M.D.
Foreword by James Earl Jones

FOREWORD TO
THE ROOTS OF DISEASE: CONNECTING DENTISTRY AND MEDICINE

 

By Robert Kulacz, D.D.S and Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.

“I took so much medicine I was sick a long time after I got well”.
-Carl Sandburg, The People, Yes

I was fortunate to be raised in a household where folk medicine was common practice. Therefore, when I was growing up, alternative medicine was always an option. We lived on an isolated farm in Michigan back then, but my grandmother Maggie had grown up in rural Mississippi, attuned to folkways. My youngest uncle suffered from epilepsy in those days before there was any reliable treatment for controlling seizures. I remember how Maggie would hover over him when he had a seizure, dribbling a thimbleful of laundry bluing into his mouth.

That was the remedy she had learned in Mississippi. (To this day, probably out of dread, I have never identified the specific ingredient in the laundry bluing manufactured in the thirties that was supposed to help my uncle recover from his seizures. But the important thing was that Maggie believed the treatment worked, and because she believed it, my uncle did, too.)

Years later, because of an accident I had on a movie set, the cartilage in my knees had virtually given out. At one point I could barely walk. I was advised to go to New Mexico to try a therapy with a German doctor who was practicing holistic medicine. He gave me injections of bee venom in my knees and other pressure points, and my condition improved, at least to the extent that I could function again. I had been told that I would eventually need to have knee replacement surgery, but the idea was to forestall replacement as long as I could. My experience with bee venom was my first attempt to elect alternative means of healing.

Before I met Dr. Robert Kulacz, I needed root canal surgery. After a number of tests, it was determined I should be very careful about the kind of metal that went into my teeth. I set out to learn all I could about the risks of mercury fillings. At the time, more and more people were acknowledging the potential problems with mercury fillings, but most dentists were reluctant to consider alternate materials. They did not want to let go of traditional methods or established treatments. I wanted to find a dentist who was open to new procedures, and my search eventually led me to Bob Kulacz.

When I approached him, he was aware of the controversy about mercury fillings but he had not yet tried alternative treatments. Not only did Dr. Kulacz agree to give me fillings without mercury, his fascination with the whole subject led him into extensive research. As this book demonstrates, he opens his mind to new possibilities in his field, investigating and testing as he tries to find the best ways of caring for his patients.

The book Dr. Kulacz and Dr. Levy have written explores the connection between dentistry and medicine. Connection is the key word here. Every human being is an entity of body, mind and spirit. In the universe of the human body, as the old song goes, "The head bone’s connected to the neck bone," and so on. It is those dentists and physicians that look for connections who are most likely to serve their patients well. Not surprisingly, holistic medicine actively involves the patient as well as the doctor. The patient’s obligation is to be as open minded and as aggressive as possible in the stewardship of his own health.

Laundry bluing, bee venom and an alternative to mercury: These three examples opened my mind. That is what I ask of you, the reader, as you pick up this book. Open your mind, and make your own thoughtful, informed decisions about what you may learn here.

James Earl Jones

INTRODUCTION

This book was written because it had to be written. From both the dental and medical perspectives, we have seen an epidemic of the most widespread proportions continue to widen rather than lessen. The hidden infections found in all root canal treated teeth continue to be arguably the most significant cause of many serious degenerative diseases, most notably cancer and heart disease. It is our opinion that the evidence clearly shows that many, if not most, significant diseases and medical conditions get their start in the dentist’s chair. The dental procedures commonly performed every day by practicing dentists certainly initiate many, and worsen most, medical conditions.

Root canal treated teeth are not the only sources of dental infection, although they are probably the most significant in terms of the severity of the diseases they cause. Cavitations are another major contributing source of dental toxicity that remains virtually unknown to the vast majority of practicing dentists today in both the United States and the rest of the world. The case histories that we have cited are nevertheless very real, and the number of people affected by the toxicity of cavitations exceeds even the number of people affected by the toxicity of root canal treated teeth. The vast majority of people who have ever had teeth extracted, especially the larger teeth such as the wisdom teeth and molars, are suffering from the toxicity of these gangrenous holes in their jawbones. This also means that older dental patients who may feel that they have "escaped" the many toxins associated with modern dental care when they finally get full-mouth extractions and dentures have only traded one form of dental toxicity for another form. The denture wearers uniformly have an enormous amount of cavitation-related toxicity. In isolated patients, cavitation toxicity can be as bad or worse than root canal treated teeth toxicity.

Another enormous source of infective dental toxicity that has gained publicity in the last decade or so is that of periodontal, or gum-related, disease. The association between variable degrees of periodontal disease and very significant medical diseases such as heart disease and stroke has received unequivocal confirmation in the medical and dental literature. It appears clear that any dental infection, whether it is gum-related, root canal-related, cavitation-related, abscess-related, or implant-related, has very consistent and serious medical consequences.

Much of what we have written about in this book relates to the concept of focal infection. A focal infection seeds microbes and their associated toxins throughout the body. The mouth continues to be the most significant source of these seedings. While we have attempted to relate a number of compelling case histories of patients we have encountered with dental toxicity and focal infection-related clinical syndromes, we have also included an extensive appendix at the end of this book. This appendix contains only a sampling of the very many pertinent abstracts from the current dental and medical articles in the scientific literature. The reader can choose to just read the bulk of this book and trust that we are relating scientifically valid observations, or the motivated reader can also find even greater definitive support for our position on the toxicity of dental infections from this appendix of cited abstracts.

The premises offered in this book do affect the financial livelihoods of a large percentage of dentists. While we don’t intend to speculate on any theories of conspiracy or other such dark notions, it is very important to always fully appreciate the "money trail" when trying to understand why things work they way do. Presently, an endodontist who fully understood, appreciated, and acknowledged the validity of all the information presented in this book would simply have to stop doing root canal procedures. It is no surprise, then, that very few endodontists are open to even considering whether this information could be true. Ironically, if the discerning endodontist was reading this book carefully, it would be obvious to him or her that a enormous amount of work still remains to be done in order to properly address the untold numbers of cavitations that need proper surgical cleaning. Endodontists could very well end up becoming cavitation specialists after giving up doing root canal procedures. However, it would involve both a major change in dental practice, additional training, and a complete renouncement of the fatally flawed root canal procedure. Like most people, dental specialists such as endodontists don’t like having the "rules" changed after their formal educations have been completed. Nor do they wish to entertain theories and concepts that conflict with the foundations of their original professional educations. Massive change will always be resisted, regardless of how appropriate that change may be. This is not to say that endodontists and other dentists intend to hurt anyone. They simply refuse to believe that a major change in the way they practice dentistry is in the best health interests of the public.

Unfortunately, the root canal procedure is presently being performed more frequently than ever before. By the early 1960’s root canal procedures were performed in the United States at the rate of about 3 million per year. This rate increased to roughly 40 million per year by the early 1990’s. Currently (2002) in the United States more than 50 million root canal procedures are being performed per year. Since the international dental community largely follows the lead of the United States, the frequency of root canals is similarly skyrocketing across the world. Even if modern medicine finds some way to keep patients alive while lessening their symptoms with prescription medications, chronic degenerative diseases can be expected to appear ever earlier in life as more and more root canal procedures are performed. Indeed, many cardiologists will tell you that only a few decades ago it was almost unheard of for a man in his 20’s to sustain a heart attack. Now it is not so uncommon. We feel the evidence presented in this book clearly demonstrates that dental toxicity is a primary reason for the appearance of heart disease as well as many other chronic degenerative diseases.

From the perspectives of both dentistry and medicine, we believe the science supporting the toxicity of the root canal treated tooth, the cavitation, the implanted tooth, the abscessed tooth, and infected gum tissue is not in doubt, and actually has not been in doubt for a very long time. We feel very strongly that dentists and physicians must be guided entirely by what is scientifically true and by what is in the best health interests of their patients. The desire to avoid change and to regard all historical as well as current scientific beliefs as being beyond reproach and question must no longer play any role in health care. The education of our dentists and physicians must truly be a lifelong process that does not end upon acceptance of a diploma. The license to practice a dental or medical discipline is a privilege, not a right. Most education begins after the awarding of an academic degree. Dentists and physicians alike must take full responsibility for the welfare of their patients. They must always strive to attain the complete truth in their knowledge base, to follow the most effective of treatment philosophies, and to maintain the greatest of integrity in their care giving.

ROOT CANAL PROCEDURES: ANATOMICAL AND CLINICAL ASPECTS

None of the Usual Suspects

Mr. Smith’s condition was deteriorating rapidly. It had been a month since his shortness of breath forced him to be admitted to the hospital. His family was gathered in a conference room along with two of his physicians. The pulmonologist, (lung specialist), spoke to the group:

"We do not have any answers as to the cause of Mr. Smith’s condition. We looked everywhere for a primary source for the infection but we found nothing." At that point I (RK) felt compelled to speak up:

"No you didn’t. You didn’t check his mouth. Mr. Smith has two root canals and moderate to severe gum disease."

The pulmonologist appeared to completely ignore my comment, although his quick glance at the cardiologist sitting in the corner appeared to be an attempt to see if he had support in regarding me as another renegade dentist who just didn’t get it. It was very clear to me that this doctor was not willing to even entertain the possibility of an oral focus as the cause of Mr. Smith’s condition. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith died the next day.

With the family’s permission I obtained Mr. Smith’s complete hospital record. There were more question marks and frustrated uncertainties in the chart than there were definitive answers. It seemed that nobody had any idea why Mr. Smith was sick. Certainly, nobody put into writing any scientifically plausible hypothesis as to why Mr. Smith was so sick. Multiple consultations by a variety of medical specialists led to the same diagnostic dead end. Lacking any clear answers for his condition, these consultants literally flooded his body with antibiotics, even though all of the blood cultures testing for bacteria turned out negative. When the first set of antibiotics failed to produce any clinical improvement, different antibiotics were tried. This non-focused, machine gun-like administration of multiple drugs continued until Mr. Smith’s kidneys and liver could no longer handle the toxic assault of the side effects of those drugs, along with the toxic effects of his underlying disease. Faced with this toxicity and the ongoing stress of the unchecked infection, these organs finally began to shut down. And, still, there was no diagnosis. There was never a diagnosis. The question marks continued to pile up in the medical record.

Mr. Smith, however, is not such an unusual case. Many people die every day in hospitals without a clear diagnosis. The final cause of death in such a patient commonly ends up being the "diagnosis," such as heart attack, blood clot, stroke, or respiratory failure. But what led up to so many of these "final causes" of death?

Sixteen years ago Mr. Smith had a root canal procedure on one of his teeth. During this treatment process he developed a heart infection known as sub-acute bacterial endocarditis (SBE). This infection was caused by bacteria from the infected tooth that had undergone the root canal procedure. These bacteria entered the bloodstream and traveled to Mr. Smith’s heart, where the bacteria actually invaded and grew upon one of the heart valves. The damage to the heart valve was so severe that it became necessary to do a heart valve replacement surgery.

SBE is often a life-threatening illness. Although an infected tooth is not the only source of the bacteria or other microorganisms that can cause SBE, Mr. Smith’s SBE was clearly traced to his root canal treated tooth. This raised a very significant and logical question: After already having had such a severe illness caused by a dental infection, why was the possibility of disease-provoking oral bacteria as a cause for Mr. Smith’s current illness not explored? The answers will shock you. As we shall see, one or more root canal treated teeth should always at least be given consideration as a primary cause, or a secondary and contributory cause, in the vast majority of diseases and clinical syndromes.

What Isn’t Taught Doesn’t Exist

The dental school curriculum exposes students to the basic biological sciences, such as biochemistry and physiology. However, most students regard these courses only as necessary requirements for graduation. They are not viewed as important building blocks for achieving a comprehensive understanding of how the body works and how the diseases of the mouth affect the rest of the body. There are few references to general medicine in dental school training, and little, if any, practical integration of the basic sciences into the clinical practice of dentistry. The main focus of a dental education is on the clinical and technical skills necessary for the everyday practice of dentistry. The basic sciences that should be thoroughly understood by any person with the title of "Doctor" are almost completely neglected by students in the dental school curriculum. Most dentists graduating from dental school are lacking a true understanding of the basic sciences. Their knowledge of general medicine ends up being literally little more than that of laypersons, unless they are motivated to study medicine further on their own.

Similarly, physicians must also take the basic biological science courses in medical school. But they, too, end up primarily focused on the clinical and practical aspects of their educations. There is very little mention of dentistry in medical school. Physicians are not trained in the diagnosis or treatment of dental disease, and they certainly receive no education regarding the materials used in dentistry. It’s almost as if there is an unspoken understanding between dentistry and medicine that one has nothing to do with the other! Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many medical diseases caused by dental infections often go undiagnosed. In fact, as we saw earlier, it is rare that a dental infection such as is found in the root canal treated tooth is even given consideration as a possible contributing cause to a medical condition.

So, herein lies the problem. Dentists are not trained in medicine, and physicians are not trained in dentistry. In other words, NOBODY IS MINDING THE STORE! Both the medical and dental professions have largely ignored the vital mutual relationship between their respective disciplines. However, we will see that this was not always the situation. But let us first try to understand better what a "root canal" is, which is the common way of referring to a root canal treated tooth. Then, we will see why this dental infection is so often devastating to the overall health of the patient.
 

** Disclaimer: Information on DrKulacz.com is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace a relationship with a qualified health care professional.**

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