Our thanks to the office of biological dentist Gary Verigin for providing this article.


Over the years, root canal teeth have been associated with a host of chronic, systemic health problems, including autoimmune disorders, musculoskeletal diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, fibromyalgia and other enigmatic illnesses, and cancer.

dental xray showing root canal toothIn fact, in Cancer: A Second Opinion, German physician Dr. Josef Issels noted that nearly all of the patients he saw in his cancer clinic had infections lingering in “successful” root canal teeth. Each root canal tooth, he said, should be considered “a dangerous toxin producing ‘factory,’”

Research published earlier this year in the journal Dentistry likewise found a connection between root canal teeth and systemic health problems.

For the study, researchers collected data from both healthy patients and those who were chronically ill. The latter included 7 patients with cancer, 32 with chronic fatigue and systemic immunological exhaustion, 19 with rheumatoid complaints, 9 with degenerative neurological disease, 18 with atypical facial pain and trigeminal neuralgia, and 12 with intestinal symptoms.

Dental x-rays were taken, and each set of images was examined for signs of apical periodontitis, or infection at the root tips which can develop into an abscess or cyst. The researchers also measured for toxic compounds that have been associated with root canal teeth.

Patients with chronic health problems were found to be three times more likely to have infected root canals than patients in good health. More than 40% “showed immunological disturbance as a result of root-filled teeth.”

Each Tooth Is a Living Organ

diagram of tooth anatomyYou might not realize it, but each of your teeth is a living organ – although if you’ve ever had a toothache or severe tooth injury, you know all too well how alive a tooth can be. If it weren’t alive, there would be no pain.

Of course, sometimes a toothache goes away. But that doesn’t mean the tooth has healed. It means the tooth is dead.

In that case – or when decay has gone deep or the tooth has been badly broken – a dentist might recommend root canal treatment to “save” the tooth. For some reason, this is deemed good medicine. Yet in no other case would a doctor leave a dead organ in an otherwise healthy body.

With teeth, it’s a different story.

How Root Canals Are Done & How They Can Spell Trouble

First, the dentist drills into the tooth and removes the nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues that make up the living pulp within. The dentist then disinfects the hollowed out tooth and packs it with a rubbery substance called gutta percha before placing a filling or crown on top.

how root canals are doneThe procedure is simple enough, yet it carries some significant consequences, largely due to the anatomy of the tooth.

Two layers of tissue protect a tooth’s pulp: the hard enamel that covers the outside of the tooth and, below that, the dentin. Though dentin looks solid, it’s actually made up of miles of microscopic tubules through which fluid flows – tubules that are impossible to disinfect completely.

Being dark, moist, hard to access, and lacking oxygen, they become a perfect harbor for harmful bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens.

Although some holistic dentists argue that ozone can do the job that standard disinfectants can’t, the results are only temporary. The infection springs back to action. Nor can lasers do the job since their light can’t bend along curves in a tooth’s roots or get into tiny offshoots from the roots.

So once a root canal tooth is filled and sealed, any remaining pathogens in the tooth are likewise sealed in and free to proliferate. And proliferate, they do.

But even more concerning is the metabolic waste that’s generated by those pathogens, including sulfur compounds such as mercaptans and thioethers. These highly toxic substances can damage mitochondria – the power plants of your cells – which are especially abundant in one of your body’s most important organs of elimination, your liver.

Toxins from the tooth are free to travel there – or anywhere else in the body – courtesy of the fact that while the tooth has been gutted and filled, it remains connected to the body at its roots. Toxins generated within the tooth thus enter the general circulation, free to wreak what havoc they will.

Through years of analyzing extracted root canal teeth, Dr. Boyd Haley has found that more than 90% of them are teeming with dozens of different pathogens.

Each tooth is also connected to the body energetically, via the meridian system. Each of the twelve meridians – energetic pathways – passes through a great many organs and tissues. Consequently, problems with a tooth may show up as problems with other organs that share the same meridian.

See For Yourself

Of course, it’s one thing to read about these issues. It’s quite another to see an individual’s journey from good health to ill and back again.

To that end, you may want to check out the recent documentary Root Cause, which tells the story of one man whose health “went to s***” after root canal therapy was performed on a broken tooth. His story is interspersed with commentary from a wide range of experts who explain why root canals can be as damaging as they are.

Here’s a preview:

The film is currently available for rental or purchase from the iTunes Store, Amazon, and Vimeo. We encourage you to check it out.

And if you’re concerned about the role that root canal teeth may or may not be having on your health, start by consulting a qualified biological dentist. The International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM) has a searchable online directory you can use to find such a dentist near you: findabiologicaldentist.com. Other good referral sources include the Holistic Dental Association (HDA) and the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).

Tooth anatomy diagram by BruceBlaus, root canal diagram by Jeremy Kemp & Jellocube27, via Wikimedia Commons


27 responses to “Root Canal Teeth & Chronic Illness: Is There a Connection?”

  1. Linda says:

    I had a tooth removed rather than get a root canal. Is a bridge or implant a safe procedure to get?

  2. A. Silver says:

    Hi,
    Do you know of any dentists in Calgary, Alberta Canada who complete the disinfection procedure following RCT tooth removal?
    I am a dental hygienist in Calgary, however, I am unaware of any dentists who perform this procedure.
    Thank you.

    • staff says:

      There are a couple of professional organizations for biological dentists who may be able to provide a referral: the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (iabdm.org) and the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (iaomt.org). Both have searchable member directories so you can find a qualified dentist near you.

  3. dizzle says:

    I am visiting a dentist in Calgary that does the complete procedure including ozone therapy to sterilize the sockets. Maxwell Dental is the office! Hope this helps.

  4. Jenny says:

    In My situation where I have lost a lot of bone and three teeth what would be the best option a partial or bone grafting plus the implants

  5. Christina Rogers says:

    What are my options if I had root canals 15-20 years ago and I am now beginning to have chronic health issues for over a year. Fatigue, brain fog, body aches, muscle twitching, lightneadness. Wondering if my root canal could be the cause of my health issues. Doctors can’t figure me out. What can be done to help if there is infection behind one of them?

    • staff says:

      We suggest you consult with a biological dentist to have your root canal teeth checked out, to see if they – or other oral conditions – might be creating an additional health burden for you. Here in the States, there are three professional organizations for such dentists, and each includes a searchable directory on their website, so you can find the biological dentist closest to you: http://iabdm.org, http://iaomt.org, and http://holisticdental.org. Let us know how it goes!

      • Lisa says:

        Some of your symptoms also pertain to breast implant illness (BII). Most of my symptoms have improved since explant, but I still have brain fog and memory issues. This might be where to look next!

  6. Sherri says:

    I a 49 year old woman. I had a root canal procedure done in my late teens. Shortly after, I had to have oral surgery at the site of the root canal due to an infection at the root. Chronic illness didn’t start to plague me noticeably until my late twenties. I now have severe fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I am going to have the root canal tooth removed very soon and replaced with an implant. Is this a good plan for me and how long should it take for me to start feeling better?

    • staff says:

      We’re so sorry you’re going through this, Sherri. Hopefully, you’ve found a good biological dentist to help you first understand if the root canal tooth or other conditions in your mouth are in fact contributing to your health issues, and then provide appropriate treatment if warranted. Since we’re not a dental office, we can’t really comment on treatment options or potential outcomes. A knowledgable biological dentist can.

  7. Jo says:

    Do you recommend O-Zone treatment and a root canal? Or do you recommend not getting a root canal at all? I have had sensitivity in the rear lower molar and because they couldn’t really Verify infection we crowned it because it was a fairly fragile tooth. But the mild discomfort continues. The crown cost $900 only 5 months ago. So looking for options right now. I’m either going to have to remove a tooth and put an implant? or perhaps there is a valuable alternative to ?

    • staff says:

      Hi, Jo! And thanks for reaching out. As a medical office, we can’t give dental advice, but what we can suggest is having that tooth evaluated by a well-qualified biological dentist, who can let you know all your options for addressing the problem. All three of the major professional associations for holistic and biological dentistry here in the US have searchable online directories you can use to find a biological dentist near you: http://iabdm.org, http://iaomt.org, and http://holisticdental.org.

  8. Lisa Mayer says:

    Is there if any differences in seeing a functional holistic dentist compared to a regular one when having a root canal removed and amalgam fillings removed? Thanks!

    • staff says:

      Yes, for such procedures, you would want to consult a well-qualified biological dentist. They will be familiar with the ways in which such conditions can impact systemic health, as well as best practices for safe amalgam removal. All three of the main professional organizations for holistic and biological dentists have searchable directories on their websites, which can help you find the dentist nearest you:

      http://iabdm.org
      http://iaomt.org
      http://holisticdental.org

  9. Darlene says:

    I had a root canal when I was 16 and then had to have a apicotemy of that same tooth when I was 22. Recently when I went to the dentist he saw an issue with that tooth and I have had to redo the root canal. I believe all is well now, However, I am now 62 years old and have suffered inflammation through out my body, in my fingers and toes. Have also had neck problems. If those problems were generated by my tooth, is it possible for everything to “return to semi normal”? i.e lose the inflamation in my fingers and neck? If so, how long does it take.

    • staff says:

      We’re not really in a position to comment, not being dentists ourselves. But we can recommend getting a second opinion on that root canal tooth from a well-qualified biological dentist. All three of the main professional organizations for holistic and biological dentists have searchable directories on their websites, which can help you find the dentist nearest you:

      http://iabdm.org
      http://iaomt.org
      http://holisticdental.org

  10. Lisa Albers says:

    I just had an old root canal (from 37 yrs ago) removed 3 days ago. I was diagnosed with MS 3 years ago. I am willing to try anything to reduce my symptoms, even if this is only 30% accurate. Have there been any recent reports of positive outcome from this procedure?

    • staff says:

      There have been clinical reports and some studies suggesting symptom improvement after addressing various oral burdens – not just infected root canal teeth, but “silver” mercury amalgam fillings, ischemic bone disease (cavitations) and more. Seldom, though, is it just a matter of removing them. Guided detox and other supports are usually necessary. We encourage you to consult with a well-qualified biological dentist for guidance on whether that root canal tooth or other burdens may be contributing to your chronic health issues. All three of the main professional organizations for holistic and biological dentists have searchable directories on their websites, which can help you find the dentist nearest you:

      http://iabdm.org
      http://iaomt.org
      http://holisticdental.org

  11. Judy says:

    Actinomycosis is a chronic bacterial infection leading to flesh and bone eating superbug hookworm this causes disability and death lumpy jaw actinomycosis in freesian dairy herds due to unregulated use of antibiotics in milking herds European data protected as European central bank funded clinics all over Europe to profit from patients with this

  12. Malak Kalbouneh says:

    Hi . Iam 36 years I had 8 roots canal on my teeth Iam so stressed about the harm can cause on my body I wanted to extract all of them but my dentist she refused to do the extraction .And do your health improve after extarction or its gonna be worse .

    • staff says:

      The first thing to do is determine what, if any, kind of burden those teeth may be placing on your body, and for that, you would need to consult with a biological dentist. If there is a dental burden, they can then advise you of your options for dealing with them.

      All three of the main professional organizations for holistic and biological dentists have searchable directories on their websites, which can help you find the dentist nearest you:

      http://iabdm.org
      http://iaomt.org
      http://holisticdental.org

  13. Lisa says:

    I am 50 years old. I had a cracked tooth in my early 20’s which was given a root canal and crown. At age 48, an infection showed up. At age 49, I had another root canal in the same tooth as mentioned earlier.

    During my mid to late 40’s I have had unexplained health issues. The final diagnosis? Fybromyalsia and autoimmune disorder. In my late 30’s to mid 40’s, I have had GI issues was diagnosed with IBS and was told to follow the low FODMAPs diet. My IBS is worse, and bloating is my main symptom. Now I have chronic neuropathy, gerd, fybromyalsia, inflammation/arthristis = sore joints and bones. I am considering tooth extraction. What are the chances of health recovery after extraction? How often do patients symptoms go away? Is it possible to cure the fybromyalsia and autoimmune disease with tooth extraction and deep cleaning? I feel like I am 80 years old. Arthristis is horrible and I used to be so healthy, active and athletic. Now I can barely drive or sit. Sitting is the worst pain!! Thank-you for reading this. Sincerely, Lisa

    • staff says:

      We’re so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through, Lisa, and we encourage you to get a thorough exam by a well-qualified biological dentist. Once they evaluate the role your oral conditions may be playing in your systemic health problems, they can provide a sensible treatment plan – often working in conjunction with an integrative physician or naturopath – to address any health barriers and support healing.

      All three of the main professional organizations for holistic and biological dentists have searchable directories on their websites, which can help you find the dentist nearest you:

      http://iabdm.org
      http://iaomt.org
      http://holisticdental.org

  14. Laurie says:

    Great article thank you. Last April I had 9 root canals pulled, six months later two more. As a result from a head on, 20 yrs ago. I went to a biological dentist, he could not believe I was alive, he’d never seen so much infection. Note my other dentist told me my teeth were fine. But my health was deteriorating. So I ended up with a full top denture. I was in the dental chair for 7 hrs when he pulled the 9 teeth, they had nickel crowns, and mercury base crowns. He used a dam, used ozone, and laser. He was also shocked, that I did not have brain cancer. I was excited to get my health back, but the opposite happened. My guy burned for weeks after, in addition I stared to eliminate creature looking stools. Something out of a sci-fi movie. My health is worse. My brain feels like it’s in a cage, it squeezing me. I feel worms move in my gums when I eat. It’s horrific. I have been to a few doctor’s and alternative and integrative doctor’s, spend my entire savings last year. Nobody knows what to do. Even my biological dentist. Any suggestions is appreciated, as I suffer every second of every day from hyper sensitivity sense tooth pull. Also he rebuilt my jaw bone and removed 2 huge cavitations.

    • staff says:

      We’re so sorry that you’re having to go through this, Laurie. It sounds rough. While we can’t speculate on what’s going on in your case or offer medical advice here on the blog, it’s important to know that where there are dental burdens like this, comprehensive, supervised “pretox” (preparing to detox) and detox are generally called for in addition to the dental work. We’d be glad to see you and see if we can help. Just give our front desk a call at 310-268-8466. If you live outside the Los Angeles area and need to find someone closer, let us know, and we’ll see if we can get you a referral.

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