Root Canals vs. Implants (We Say “Neither”)
Posted on Friday, September 11th, 2009
When we saw the headline “Why Save Bad Teeth? Dental ‘Heroics’ Unnecessary and Failure Prone”, we thought, “Of course,” and clicked the link to find what we suspected would be some kind of criticism of root canals – procedures done in lieu of extractions of deeply decayed teeth and which result in keeping dead teeth in the mouth. Notably, this is the only case in which, as Dr. Mercola, among others, has pointed out, it’s thought proper to leave a dead organ in a living body.
Anyhow, we were not disappointed…
For years, it was common practice for dentists to perform repeat root canals and other procedures to save teeth compromised by extensive decay, gum disease and bone loss.
…until the second sentence, which specified the party responsible for this media release:
Today, the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) said times have changed and patients should forego prolonged dental heroics to save failing teeth and replace them with long-lasting dental implants.
And this brought to mind the old saying, “When you’ve got a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”
Implants, however, present their own problems. In fact, just as root canal teeth can contribute to systemic disease and dysfunction via focal infection, so, too, can implants. As Dr. Verigin writes in Part Two of his article “Understanding Dental Foci and the Disease Process,”
Preliminary research indicates there is a strong relationship between disease and dental implants. It shows that the microbes around them can promote several adverse events as the environment becomes more anaerobic, including acute, invasive infections of the inner lining of the blood vessels and alteration of their endothelial lining, promoting atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”). They appear to contribute to heart disease and induce platelet clumping in heart valves, causing infective endocarditis. In addition to causing infections such as abscesses and bacteremia at wound sites, they can cause genital urinary tract infections and periodontal disease, as well as pathologies related to infection in the sinuses, bone and central nervous system.
You can learn more about this important research being conducted by Dr. Hal Huggins here (PDF).
Fortunately, implants are not the only option for aesthetically and healthfully replacing missing teeth. To learn more about better dental restoration options, explore the articles in our online library.
That said, the implant folks do make one excellent point:
“There really is no justification for undergoing multiple endodontic or periodontic procedures, and enduring the pain and financial burden, to save a diseased tooth,” said John Minichetti, DDS, speaking for the AAID. “The days are over for saving teeth till they fall out. Preserving questionable teeth is not the best option from both oral health and cosmetic perspectives.”