Why you should never get a root canal

15 years ago in 2001,  due to poor diet and dental hygiene during my typical American childhood, I got a root canal in my lower-right molar. If a cavity goes deep enough to hit the root of the tooth, any dentist will give you only 2 options:

1. The tooth must be extracted and, if applicable, an implant installed in its place to prevent shifting of the other teeth.

or, more commonly,

2. The tooth must be treated with a root canal operation.

Most people choose the root canal. It is by far the easiest, at least in the short term, “quick fix” solution. No huge ugly toothless gap in your mouth for months while you wait for an implant, it’s cheap, and it’s relatively painless.

Dentists love root canals because they are quick, easy money, and most patients don’t have any (obvious) problems until years or decades into the future.

The only problem is, root canals are a “quick fix” and ignore the long term reality. Teeth are microscopically porous and impossible to completely seal off and sterilize 100%.  When, inevitably, any bacteria at all are left inside the dead tooth, they are impossible to clean out through normal dental hygiene and begin to multiply. If your root canal tooth is full of bacteria, those same bacteria will leak out in to your bloodstream, causing any number of chronic illnesses if the tooth remains inside.

Since all the nerve endings in the tooth have been drilled out, this all happens painlessly and you will probably remain oblivious until the infection starts to spread outside the tooth, as in my case. No other field of medicine voluntarily leaves a dead body part attached to you as a regular procedure. It is insanity.

Today, 15 years later, I had that tooth extracted. I’d had a bad feeling about it for years. Sometimes a dull ache near the roots, but mostly just the overwhelming feeling like it just didn’t belong inside my body. Because it didn’t. I’m so glad it’s out:

Attached to the root was a bunch of inflamed, infected tissue, as you can see here.

Attached to the root was a bunch of inflamed, infected tissue, as you can see here.

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Here I’ve scraped off the infected flesh from the root. You can see the two holes at the bottom of the root, allowing bacteria from inside the tooth to flow into my bloodstream.

Here you see the pink rubbery "sterile filling" that supposedly filled all the gaps and sealed my tooth completely. Fail. The black stuff smelled like the worst bad breath you can imagine. Absolute death.

Here you see the pink rubbery “sterile filling” that supposedly filled all the gaps and sealed my tooth completely. Fail. The black stuff smelled like the worst bad breath you can imagine. Absolute death.

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On the X-ray, you can see the bone loss and external infection in the tissue surrounding it.

If you have a root canal tooth, please don’t wait to get it extracted. Your health is worth more than the initial costs.