My tooth has been bothering me on and off for six month or so. When I went into the dentist, he suggested a root canal be done on the tooth. But I try to take a holistic approach to my life so I decided to meet with a holistic dentist to see what he would recommend. Well, the holistic dentist said he wants to pull it. So I don’t want to lose my tooth, but I feel torn about my naturalistic lifestyle. I don’t want to leave the infection in my body either. Any advice?
– Willow in California
It is not uncommon for a general (traditional) dentist and a holistic dentist to have differing recommendations. In fact, even with two general dentists, you could very well end up with different opinions to treat your tooth based on a particular dentist’s treatment philosophy and training.
But in your situation, you have the general dentist basing his recommendation on the concepts that are currently being taught in dental school. So when the pulp of the tooth is infected, the majority of the dental community will recommend disinfecting the tooth with a root canal treatment. This will take care of the infection and hopefully prevent it from reoccurring. But it is possible for the root canal to fail and the infection to resurface. If this happens, it will likely mean that the root canal is redone and another round of antibiotics given.
Now if you examine the mindset of a holistic dentist, you are dealing with the opinion that the infection is never entirely treated. This is mainly due to the fact that the pulp (or inside of the tooth) has many shoots that the bacteria can spread in. Think of the roots and nerves kind of like a spidery lightening strike. That is one of the reasons why root canal sometimes fail. Also, the holistic dentist is looking at your entire well being and your total health. So he is concerned with infection spreading into other areas of your body and negatively affecting your general health.
You may be able to find a dentist that comes in the middle somewhere. For example, by sterilizing the entire tooth and the canal the agent can take care of the infection. This would mean in some cases leaving the sterilizing agent in the canal for over a month so it gets into these little root shoots. This isn’t the most common approach and also a bit controversial. It has not been widely accepted.
It may be worth doing some more research and also finding another opinion from a dentist. You want to make sure you are very comfortable with your treatment decision while still honoring your holistic commitment. Just remember, pulling a tooth is permanent. Most dentists will do whatever they can to save your natural tooth.
You can do a tooth extraction down the road too if the tooth continues having problems, or you run into failed root canals.
Good luck to you!
This post is sponsored by Newton MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.