Teeth and the Focal Infection Theory

by | Sep 7, 2009 | Biological Dentistry | 34 comments

Are your teeth “connected” to other parts of your body? In other words, can an abscessed or infected tooth actually cause a problem somewhere else, say your lower back, sinuses, stomach or even your heart?

Focal Infection Theory (FIT) is the idea that a local infection affecting a small area of the body can lead to subsequent infections or symptoms in other parts of the body due either to the spread of the infectious agent itself or toxins produced from it. This theory became popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, especially in the field of oral medicine. However, relatively recently current consensus in the dental community changed. It now suggests that FIT is not a valid reason to remove teeth or to avoid root canals.

As recently as Dougherty’s 1954 Textbook of Bacteriology and Galloway’s 1957 peer-reviewed JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article on tonsillectomies, FIT was still accepted as valid. Even as late as the late 1980s, in spite of a decline in the recognition of the focal infection theory, the association of decayed teeth with systemic disease is taken very seriously.

I personally believe that the focal infection theory has some merit. For many years I have observed and listened to my patients tell about their successful outcomes after the removal of hopeless teeth that were either abscessed, cracked or had extensive decay with symptoms of pain and discomfort.

To my surprise not only did their mouths feel better after the offending tooth was removed but I began hearing patients comments such as, “I feel more energetic,” “my back pain is gone,” “my sinuses are cleared,” “I have regular bowel movements now.”

I’m not sure what scientific tests or double blind studies can be performed that can accurately evaluate or even measure these results. However, I do know that I learn a lot by simply listening to my patients. Consistent patterns began to develop after these problematic teeth were extracted. The following testimonials are examples of post operative assessments provided by our patients.

Prior to coming to your office, my symptoms of pain ranged from lower back pain, headaches, shoulder and neck pain. These aches and pains affect my performance on the job as well as socially. I asked to have my tooth removed (a prior root canal tooth that had been bothering me for almost one year). Rather than re-treating the root canal I decided to extract it. Once this procedure was completed I have noticed a dramatic change in my whole body. My pain in my lower back is completely gone. I have no more headaches or shoulder and neck pain.
Keith, 36, Male

I had an infected, cracked molar that has been a problem on and off for me for about 6 months. During this time, I also noticed both my thyroid and my heart were bothering me. My heart had been pounding for months. Within minutes after the tooth was removed my heart returned to normal and I felt better than I had in months.
Bob, 47, Male

Biological dentistry has taught me to have an open mind when it comes to evaluating our patients’ over health and wellness. Hopefully, sooner than later, the oral cavity will receive the attention it deserves as our health care providers become more aware that the cause of their patients’ biological imbalances may have dental connections.

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