We encounter harmful toxins from a variety of sources: processed food, pollution, household cleaners, even certain cosmetic products. But one place most of us don’t expect to be exposed to them is in the dental chair. After all, dentists study and train for years to help patients achieve and maintain oral health. Most sincerely want to help people. That’s why it’s jarring to learn that so much of what conventional dentists do actually compromises your future health.
“The mouth is an extremely common site for both infections and toxin exposure,” says Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, author of The Toxic Tooth. “Due to these conditions and the nature of many dental procedures, modern dentistry regularly produces some exceptionally toxic assaults on the human body.”
Dr. Levy explains that dental infections and their associated toxins can overwhelm the immune system with an insurmountable drain on the body’s antioxidant stores.
“A large antioxidant capacity is the single most important protection the body has against the development of diseases, including heart disease and cancer,” he states. “Therefore any positive intervention supporting good health will be severely limited in its effectiveness as long as dental infections and toxins remain unaddressed.”
Here are five toxic truths about what might actually be happening while you’re in the dentist’s chair…and what you can do to reverse the damage:
All root canals are dangerous. In a root canal procedure, the tooth’s pulp (i.e., blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue), which is often infected, is replaced with dental material. Because of the nature of the procedure, immune cells no longer have a way to reach the tooth, and toxin-producing microbes are able to proliferate. Through the act of chewing, these toxins are “pumped” into the body where, over time, they become an insurmountable drain on the body’s stores of antioxidants. And since antioxidants are the body’s single most important protection against degenerative disease, root canals directly lead to the development of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and more.
“All teeth that need or have undergone a root canal procedure must be extracted,” asserts Dr. Levy. “‘Repeat’ root canals on the same tooth, as well as dental lasers, simply cannot eliminate all microbes in the treated tooth or prevent infection from recurring.”
Cavitations have dire consequences. A cavitation is the residual hole resulting from the incomplete healing of the jawbone after a tooth is extracted. While mainstream dentistry is reluctant to acknowledge it, cavitations are extremely common. (They’re present at the sites of healed-over wisdom teeth extraction sites nearly 90 percent of the time.) The problem? Typical cavitations contain a putrid, usually foul-smelling, highly toxic sludge that’s pathologically and chemically indistinguishable from wet gangrene. That toxicity can challenge the immune system and impact the rest of the body in much the same way that root canal-induced toxicity does, albeit less predictably so.
“When the periodontal ligament is removed along with a tooth, the natural stimulus for the growth of new bone cells is present, and healing can begin,” explains Dr. Levy. “But even though removal of this ligament isn’t involved or time consuming, modern dentistry doesn’t include it as a routine part of a dental extraction—meaning that the surrounding jawbone cells have no physiological awareness that the tooth is gone. For this reason, a dentist or oral surgeon with experience in the surgical repair of cavitations and the removal of periodontal ligaments should perform the ligament removal procedure, as well as a surgical evacuation and complete cleaning of the cavitation.”
Dental implants don’t always solve problems. After a tooth is extracted, it’s not surprising that a patient would want a dental implant at the site of the missing tooth. (Implants are used to anchor a prosthetic tooth, bridge, or denture.) Physiologically, though, dental implants can be a source of substantial toxicity and infection because they are often placed directly in and through an evolving cavitation. In fact, the implant can serve as a conduit that exposes previously healthy bone to toxins and microbes that facilitate the formation of new cavitations. An additional downside to implants is that they can cause an immune reaction or rejection of the foreign material.
“Infected dental implants should be removed,” instructs Dr. Levy. “However, when done correctly—i.e., when healthy bone is allowed to grow back for four to six months after an extraction—an implant can be a good solution for a missing tooth. While an individual can certainly have more than one implant, it is a better idea to have a partial plate if too many teeth are missing.”
Fillings can be filled with toxins. Mercury amalgam fillings (i.e., the “silver” ones) are more than 50 percent mercury. That’s a big problem, because mercury is the most toxic heavy metal known to science, as well as the most toxic non-radioactive element in existence. While the debate over just how dangerous these fillings are continues, it’s undeniable that they continually release mercury vapor over time, which is inhaled or absorbed by tissues in the mouth. Although public health awareness groups are gradually bringing one of dentistry’s oldest “dirty little secrets” into the light, these fillings continue to be placed at an alarmingly high rate by dentists who don’t want to change, or who haven’t examined the overwhelming body of evidence indicating how toxic these fillings are.
“Mercury amalgam fillings should be properly removed and replaced by using biocompatible materials,” says Dr. Levy. “Serum biocompatibility testing can provide guidance in selecting the least toxic and immunoreactive materials for use in any given patient. And in the future, discuss the materials your dentist uses with him or her before undergoing a filling. Don’t allow your dentist to simply use the materials that he or she likes most.”
Dental reconstructions are often destructive. Another highly toxic material, nickel, is used extensively in the metal alloys used in dental restorations because it is durable, corrosion resistant, and cheap. It’s also one of the most carcinogenic metals known to medicine. Ironically, many dentists know that nickel is carcinogenic; they simply don’t realize how much of it is present in the stainless steel and other common metal alloys they utilize. And aside from nickel-containing alloys, other dental materials are produced using toxic chemicals that remain noxious after placement in the mouth.
“Again, toxic reconstructions should be removed and replaced with biocompatible materials,” Dr. Levy states.
“Most dentists are likely to tell you (and perhaps even genuinely believe) that these procedures are safe,” Dr. Levy concludes. “You must be the guardian of your own health. It is your right to decline a root canal and insist on extraction, for example, no matter how strenuously your dentist objects. Increased overall health, and in the case of many procedures, a decreased chance of heart attack or cancer, should be strong motivators for most patients. While it’s too late to prevent countless cases of degenerative disease that have begun in the dental chair, many such diseases can still be slowed or even reversed.”