I decided to blog about my recent oral surgery and dental infections (and years of run-around involving them) because of the deep connection between dental health and the over-all health of the body.
I’m hoping that my story will encourage you to consider this connection. If an infection isn’t treated appropriately by a dentist trained in advanced surgical procedures (and I’m not talking root canals) infection could persist for decades and cause a whole slough of unforeseen health issues – many seemingly unrelated.
Patients who undergo these specific procedures report steady improvement in immunity and adrenal function, as well as over-all improvements to general health. According to my oral surgeon, even chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, heart conditions and auto-immune diseases have shown to miraculously clear within months after treatment.
This phenomenon may be due to the simple holistic connection of all body systems. “As above, so below” – if one part of the intricate web is not functioning, other parts deteriorate. If there is an infection anywhere in the body, the immune system will respond until the infection is gone – forever if it has to – or until the immune system dies trying. With immunity compromised, over-all health diminishes.
From a Chinese Medical standpoint, meridians and acupuncture points run right through each tooth. Depending upon the location of the affected tooth, other body systems that run along those same meridians will be affected.
A few months ago, I consulted with a functional nutrition teacher of mine about a crisis I’ve been facing with my teeth. Thank God I did, because if I hadn’t, I’m afraid I’d still be on the roller coaster I’ve been riding ever since I started going to the dentist as a kid.
I don’t recall any childhood visit to the dentist in which I didn’t have a cavity. Each cavity was filled with metal amalgam that contained mercury, and I was placed under “laughing gas” each time I needed a filling. But it was no laughing matter for me: I hallucinated on the nitrous, making my visits to the dentist more traumatic than funny.
Things didn’t changed as an adult. Infected teeth seemed to rule my mouth, and in my late twenties I endured two root canals to patch up a couple of the infections. At that time, I thought I was doing all the “right” things. I was seeing a “natural dentist” who removed all of my amalgam fillings to stop the possibility of mercury spilling into my blood stream, and getting root canals to stop any infection. But I still had trouble.
Last year, I had to replace a crown off one of my root canalized molars. After the replacement procedure, my molar started aching, and never stopped. I went back to the dentist, and after doing another round of x-rays, he recommend I redo the filling in the tooth NEXT to it, since he didn’t detect any infection in the molar. But I knew it wasn’t the tooth next to it – THAT tooth didn’t hurt. It was the molar.
He then sent me to an oral surgeon to have a look. The oral surgeon recommended I have the root canal in the molar re-done, as it most likely would stop any infection and save the tooth. So I was referred to an endodontist to have the root canal re-done.
After the second root canal, the pain never went away, and in fact, got worse. It was recommended that I go back to the oral surgeon to extract the tooth and get an implant to replace it.
At that point, I had had it with my dentists, and decided to consult with one of my teachers about the connection between tooth infections and over-all health. Fortunately, he had been through the same rigmarole, and had some excellent referrals and advice. I decided to trust him on this and go with his recommendations.
He connected me with a colleague of his in California, a dentist trained in advanced interpretation of dental x-rays. My first step was to have a Panorex x-ray taken and sent to this dentist’s office. A Panorex is a sophisticated x-ray that takes a complete panoramic shot of the mouth, including the gums and jawbone.
His assessment came back about a week later. I had six very deep infections: two were in the molars that had undergone the root canals, and those infections had spread deep into the jawbone surrounding those teeth. The other four were in the jawbone areas where I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was sixteen. Apparently, the jaw areas under all four wisdom teeth were not cleaned out, and an infection had been festering there for nearly 25 years!
Note: Up until that point, I had numerous x-rays taken on my mouth, but not one dentist, endodontist or oral surgeon had discovered the jaw infections. I asked my current dentist about this phenomenon, and he informed me that interpreting an x-ray for jaw infections (and hence, removing them) is NOT taught in dental school.
My next step was to remove these deeper infections. He recommended a dentist and colleague of his in Colorado that apprenticed directly under him in the safe removal of jaw infections. It’s quite rare to find any dentist who is doing this. It’s a simple procedure, but a controversial one in that infections are “supposed” to be removed via root canals. In this dentist’s 30 years of practice, he has determined that root canals indeed do not remove the infection from the area, and in many cases may actually make the infection worse. (I can attest to this.)
My first surgery included the extraction of the infected molar on the right with the two bad root canals. It also included removing the infections in the jawbone under the wisdom tooth areas, top and bottom on that side.
Here’s what he did (and what he found):
First, he broke the molar into four pieces and then removed each of them. He informed me that the tooth practically came out on its own, that my body was rejecting it.
Next, he cut an incision in the periodontal ligament to expose the jaw under the tooth. He saw that my jawbone, where it was supposed to be as hard and solid as rock, was a gritty pile of mush.
It just so happened that he had an intern in the office with him that day to observe the procedure, and I felt lucky to get to listen to the step-by-step process and his observations as he explained them to her. The intern said she had never seen anything like it – she had never witnessed the cutting of the ligament, never seen an exposed jaw bone, and had never seen an infection so bad. In dental school, she was never trained that there could be an infection in the jawbone. As far as she was told, infection stopped in the tooth and gum, and was treated with a root canal and a week of antibiotics.
The surgeon removed the mush that was once my jawbone and proceeded to grind into the bone to get as deep as the infection went. He ardently cleaned the area three to four times with different antibacterial agents, and ended by suturing me up with silk thread. The same procedure was done with the wisdom teeth areas of the jaw.
After the procedure was complete and I was getting up off the chair, he asked me how I felt. My response: “I feel better now than I did when I walked in”. (OK… the anesthesia hadn’t worn off at that point, but I honestly felt that way, like my body was telling me all along to get this infection out.)
The recovery was painful, but after the stitches were taken out, it was a whole new world. The pain subsided, and now I can say that an internal strength and endurance is coming back for me. I am certain that my immune response is quicker and more accurate now that all the attention isn’t on trying to heal my mouth.
This week, I go in for the second round… the other side. The other root canalized molar will be removed and its infection cleared, as will the sockets under the wisdom teeth areas on that side. The full and complete healing of the jaw will take several months, and it may take 12-24 months for all body systems to regulate as my immune system comes back online.
I’ll be writing again soon to take this subject one notch deeper. There are reasons why I and others have a tendency toward chronic infections. More often than not, as it turns out, there is a deep internal stress factor involved, usually having to do with serious systemic bacterial and viral infections. More on this topic to come.
Please email me if you’d like my referral to have your Panorex evaluated for jaw infections, or help finding an advanced oral surgeon trained to remove them.
My situation is a bit different than yours. I had a wisdom tooth extracted about 2 yrs ago. Oral surgeon didn't give me antibiotics prior to or after the extraction (which I thought was strange) until I called about a few days after extraction saying that when I pressed on that area I saw a little yellow pus. So I went on antibiotics for a few weeks. Since then I have had on and off some mild pain in that area -the same nagging feeling as when I I was taking the antibiotics. I told my regular dentist later and he took xrays. It was the kind where the machine goes around your head. He didn't see anything and said it must be a "phantom pain". So I continued living with it even though something tells me there's still an infection. Didn't know what else to do. I now had a breast biopsy and have something that may be a "precursor" to cancer and they recommend surgery. So oline I went to research and see alot of articles relating dental infection to cancers. My "infection" spot is on the same side as the breast with the problem. I'm really worried... really worried. Can you tell me if a holistic dentist in my area Phila/ Southern New Jersey will be able to order the appropriate xray and also be able to clearly see if there's a problem. There's a Dr. Regni in Philadelphia not far from me... Please help. I need to correct not only the dental issue but also need to deal with this cancer scare. Thanks so much for writing this article. I'm sure it will benefit many people.