What is the difference between the nerve in a tooth and the pulp in a tooth?
The nerve and the pulp in a tooth are one and the same thing. Dentists call the living tissue in the center of a tooth, pulp tissue or pulp, for short. The pulp has both nerves and blood vessels. The pulp extends from each root tip, to the pulp chamber in the center of the crown of the tooth. The tooth crown is the part that is visible in the mouth.
Most people are familiar with calling the pulp the “nerve”, which is how it will be described for the remainder of this article.
What is a root canal and why is it done?
A root canal is a treatment by a dentist which is intended to eliminate infection in a tooth by removing the infected nerve tissue inside the root or roots of a tooth. The infected nerve tissue may be alive at the time of the root canal, it may be dying, or it may already be dead. When a dentist starts a root canal, the space that was occupied by the nerve is enlarged slightly and filled with a special filling material called gutta percha. The gutta percha is “glued” to the inside of the root with a root canal sealer, which also fills in any gaps between the gutta percha and the internal surface of the root. Dentists say that a tooth with a root canal is now a “non-vital” tooth. Isn’t that just a nice way of saying that the tooth is dead?
Dentists are taught that the purpose of root canals is to help people save teeth they would otherwise lose from infections in the nerve. Infections in the nerve usually start as cavities. So dentists believe that root canals are totally beneficial, without any significant risks. After reading this page, you may decide that the risks far outweigh the benefits.
In theory, at least as taught in dental schools, the root canal filling material seals off the root of the tooth and any germs remaining in it. It is also supposed to prevent any germs in the mouth from entering into the root of the tooth or to the jaw bone beyond the tooth. The effectiveness of the seal created by the root canal filling is improved by the placement of an appropriate filling or crown in or on the tooth.
Assuming that the root canal space is completely filled and properly sealed by the dentist, any infection that has spread to the jaw bone at the end of the root or roots should then heal, because the jaw bone contains a blood supply to bring white blood cells to the infected area. White blood cells play a key roll in the process of healing infections. Healing is presumed to have occurred when symptoms, such as pain, disappear and x-rays confirms that any lost bone around the tip of the root or roots has been replaced with new bone. As you will soon find out, it is possible for a tooth with a root canal to appear to be healed, when in fact, a low grade chronic infection remains in the jaw bone around the tooth.
Why do conventional dentists recommend a root canal so readily?
Traditional dentists recommend root canals for several reasons. The primary reason is because they are taught in dental school that the nerve, which contains blood vessels and nerve tissue, has virtually no healing capability because it is confined within a small constricted space inside a tooth. They are taught that there is no room for swelling of the nerve tissue when it becomes inflamed after it is injured. A common way for a nerve to be injured is by the abundant germs and their toxins in a decay filled cavity that has reached the nerve tissue. Dentists are taught that the nerve tissue inside the tooth is strangled by its own swelling, and dies whenever it is injured.
Another reason root canal are readily recommended is that traditional dentists, like traditional (or allopathic) doctors, also believe from their training and education that your body is made of parts and organs that are affected independently by diseases, and consequently, can be treated independently, as if each part or organ were a separate body entity, with little or no connection to the rest of the body. This concept of disease treatment clearly implies that whatever treatment is applied to one part of the body has minimal or no effect on any other part or parts of the body. So traditional dentists view root canals as being virtually harmless, having minimal or no effect on any other part or parts of the body.
The net result of this traditional thinking is that it makes no difference if the tooth symptoms indicate that the nerve is injured and is still alive, or the nerve is dead. Traditional dentists see a root canal as the only realistic option for saving a tooth. The rationale is that the nerve can’t heal and a root canal is essentially harmless, so a root canal should be done regardless of the degree of nerve injury. As you will find out later, this is an assumption that is completely false. It’s a lot like cutting off a piece of your finger because you have an infected wound from a splinter.
How do you know if a tooth has a nerve that is infected, yet still alive, or infected and dying or already dead?
You can usually tell because the symptoms are typically different. Cold sensitivity, or pain that can’t be connected to a specific tooth, usually means that the nerve is alive and the tooth is still alive. These are the symptoms that most people associate with a cavity or decay. Throbbing pain, facial swelling and sensitivity to heat usually signify that the nerve has died and so has the tooth. A badly abscessed tooth feels like this. A tooth with a nerve that is dying is more difficult to diagnose because it may have symptoms of a tooth with a nerve that is alive and a nerve that is dead. For example, it may be sensitive to both heat and cold.
Another sign of a tooth with a dead nerve that no longer has any healing potential, especially if it has been infected and abscessed for a long time, is a fistula. A fistula is a pimple like opening on the skin over the jaw bone near the infected, dead tooth. Fistulas typically appear on the side of the jaw bone facing the cheek, so they are usually easy to see. When a fistula is connected to an infected tooth, it allows the toxins from the infection to drain out into your mouth. The result is that the pain and swelling from the infected tooth will eventually subside. The fistula pimple may become smaller and difficult to see. This often leads to the mistaken conclusion that the tooth is still alive, or it is no longer infected and has healed.
Please understand that these symptoms are very general and you should not try to self-diagnose your tooth symptoms. That should be left to a dentist who has had the opportunity to examine your mouth and take appropriate x-rays.
The reason why it is so important for you to know the difference between a dead tooth and one that may still be alive (or “vital”, as dentists call it) is to possibly avoid a root canal and prevent your dentist from killing a tooth nerve that may be alive. When your dentist starts a root canal, the first thing that is done is to destroy and remove any remaining nerve tissue, regardless of whether it is alive or dead. If the nerve tissue is still alive, it can be treated in a special way that gives it the opportunity to heal and remain alive by means of a specific dental treatment which dentists call a pulp cap and you can call a vital nerve cap. vital nerve capping is thoroughly discussed on the root canal options page of this website.
Please do not confuse nerve capping with conventional tooth capping. They are two entirely different dental procedures.
Are you beginning to understand why most dentists recommend root canals so readily?
There is another reason why traditional dentists have no problem recommending root canals. Whether you have one root canal, or many root canals, traditional dentists are taught to believe that the root canal filling material seals off the root of the tooth and any germs remaining in it. Thus, the number of teeth with root canals is of no consequence to your health.
The result of this non-holistic, traditionally focused medical logic is that to your traditional dentist, recommending a root canal always benefits you because root canals have no negative impact on your immune system, the rest of your body, or your health.
Furthermore, since many dentists recommend placing a cap (or ‘crown’, as dentists call it) on every tooth with a root canal, the more root canals they prescribe the more caps they can do. Sound familiar? This “you need a root canal now” thinking also conveniently avoids the unpleasant situation of having to recommend a root canal for a tooth after the tooth has been filled or capped, and then trying to explain why the new filling or cap has to have a hole drilled through it in order to do the root canal treatment.
Now do you really understand why most dentists advise root canals so readily?
If you have any root canals in your mouth, ask Dr. Gilbert how you can use nutritional support with organic and all natural supplements to limit the extremely negative health impact root canals have on your immune system. The consultation is free. Just fill out the no obligation nutritional consultation form.
Why does the number of root canals you have make a difference to your health?
Do you recall your dentist ever asking you how many root canals you already have in your mouth, whether it is none, or one, or more? Do you recall your dentist ever discussing with you the possible negative impact even one tooth with a root canal may have on your immune system and your health?
Do you remember your dentist ever explaining to you about the significant negative impact multiple teeth with root canals will have on your immune system and your health? If you have several root canals or even just one root canal, and you become sick with a cold or flu, have you ever noticed that the teeth with root canals start to ache or annoy you? Why does this happen?
It happens because a chronic infection almost always remains in the jaw bone around the root of a tooth with a root canal, without causing any symptoms to make you aware of the infection. Even a dental x-ray won’t reveal any infection.
When you have chronic infection in your jaw bone from one or more teeth with root canals, your immune system is constantly being challenged to contain the infection. The more root canals you have, the greater the challenge to your immune system. If a tooth has more than one root, each root is essentially the same as a tooth with a single root. So, the more roots a tooth has, the greater the challenge to your immune system.
Then, when you become sick from something else, like a flu virus, the increased challenge to your immune system may be more than it can handle and it will no longer be able to successfully contain the chronic infection. Now your tooth or teeth with root canals may ache and you suddenly become aware of them.
Why do teeth with root canals stay chronically infected?
A root canal is a treatment which is intended to eliminate infection in a tooth by removing the infected nerve tissue inside the root or roots of a tooth and then filling the space that was occupied by the nerve. In theory, the root canal filling material seals off the root of the tooth and any germs remaining in it. In practice, this does not often occur. In fact, it almost never occurs.
It almost never occurs because the roots of teeth contain millions of microscopic pores or channels, called dentinal tubules. The tubules are normally filled with living nerve tissue extensions from the dental nerve within the tooth root. The dentinal tubules connect the nerve in the center of the root to the exterior of the root surface imbedded in the jaw bone. When the nerve in the tooth is alive and well, the dentinal tubules serve as a transportation system to allow nutrients to gain access to the nerve in the root, so as to nourish it, and to allow for the removal of toxins and waste products from the nerve tissue. The dentinal tubules also serve as a path for additional nutrients when the nerve is injured, and as an outlet for the swelling that always occurs when it is injured.
This is the biological mechanism that normally allows for healing of an injured, living nerve! Do you understand now why a tooth with a living injured nerve doesn’t always need a root canal?
However, if the injury is severe enough, and the nerve dies from infection or trauma, all the living tissue in the dentinal tubules also dies.
Once this happens, the tooth is essentially dead!
The result is that the dentinal tubules collectively become an enormous living space for anaerobic germs — germs that don’t need oxygen. The tubules turn into a hidden breeding ground for all kinds of anaerobic germs, where they can grow and produce their toxic wastes. This is true even after a dentist has done a root canal, because dentinal tubules are difficult to disinfect and impossible to fill and seal off with gutta percha filling material.
The toxic waste products of the germs in the tubules can and do spread out from the dentinal tubules into the surrounding bone. The white blood cells in the bone are unable to reach and destroy the germs in the interior of the dentinal tubules. Neither can antibiotics reach the germs in the tubules. To add insult to injury, depending on the complexity of the root canal spaces and the experience of the dentist, the root canal space may not be completely filled. If it is not, then germs from the dentinal tubules will find additional breeding room inside the tooth root in the unfilled space or spaces. Not a pretty picture.
As already stated above, the consequence of all this is that a state of chronic infection from the germs in the dead dentinal tubules will exist in the jaw bone around a tooth that has had a root canal treatment.
Chronic infections from root canals constantly stress and weaken your immune system. Nutritional support with highly nutritious organic and all natural whole food supplements limits the negative health impact root canals always have on your immune system. If you would like to find out how these supplements may help you, Dr. Gilbert offers absolutely free nutritional counseling. To arrange for your free consultation, just complete a simple no obligation consultation form.
The extent of the infection depends on the number of teeth with root canals, the condition of a person’s immune system, and the age of the root canals. It also depends on the number of roots in the tooth, the internal anatomy of the root canal spaces and the skill of the dentist who performs the root canal treatment. The greater the number of teeth with root canals, the weaker the immune system, the older the root canals, and the poorer the seal of the root canal filling material, the greater is the likelihood of infection around the root or roots of teeth with root canals. Since knowing all this is so important, why aren’t most dentists telling you about it?
Now do you understand why even one tooth with a root canal in your mouth can make a difference in your overall health?
Chronic infection around the roots of teeth with root canals eventually destroys sufficient jaw bone for the loss to become visible on a dental x-ray. Often, this is the first evidence of any infection, which may come as a surprise to both you and your dentist. At times, the infection may become acute and painful, especially if a person’s immune system is already engaged in a battle with a flu virus or infection some where else in the body.
What can I do to stop the chronic infection in my jaw bone?
You can temporarily eliminate the chronic infection with ozone treatment. Ozone is toxic to germs and ozone treatment effectively kills the germs that remain alive after a root canal. In many cases, you can extend the length of time that teeth with root canals remain clinically infection free by periodically repeating the ozone treatments.
Another way to eliminate the chronic infection by killing the germs is with a combination of two substances, calcium hydroxide and chlorhexidine, which are mixed together and placed in the root canal spaces before the root canal filling material is inserted. Like ozone, it is very effective, but takes much more treatment time, as the mixture must be left inside the tooth at least four weeks before the root canal treatment can be completed. And, unlike ozone, it cannot be periodically repeated after the root canal treatment is completed.
Two dentists in New Jersey who teach ozone therapy to other dentists and who provide ozone treatment to patients are Dr. Philip Mollica at 201-587-0222, or Dr. Mark Berkowitz at 732-591-1112. One dentist in Maryland who is highly experienced with the calcium hydroxide and chlorhexidine treatment method is Dr. Michael Goldman. Dr. Goldman prefers you e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions and to call his office at 301-656-6171 only to make an appointment.
Another type of chronic infection in the jaw bone, called a cavitation, is sometimes associated with teeth with a root canal. This unique kind of infection also destroys bone, although it is usually not visible on an x-ray. Ozone treatment also effectively kills germs in a cavitation.
Whether you choose to accept these germ killing treatments or not, you must do everything possible to nutritionally strengthen your immune system, because it is your first line of defense against infection and disease. The benefit of ozone or any other similar treatment will last much longer if you nutritionally strengthen your immune system. You will benefit immensely with nutritional support from organic, whole food, and all natural, supplements.
Infections from root canals and cavitations constantly stress and weaken your immune system. Strengthen your immune system with all natural and organic, nutrient rich supplements. Details and information can be found on the Supplements page on this website.
How will nutritional support strengthen my immune system?
The only way you can strengthen your immune system and successfully treat, heal or cure disease in any one part of your body, whether it is your gums, or your teeth, is to heal your whole body. There is no other way. That is the essence of holistic, meaning whole body, health. One of the most effective ways to contribute toward your whole body health is by taking organic whole food and other completely natural supplements.
These supplements strengthen and support your immune system and promote enhanced health by providing you with all the nutritional tools you will need to experience:
- Remarkably improved digestion and assimilation of foods, made possible by taking probiotics and food enzyme supplements.
- Substantially enhanced nutrition obtained from an extraordinarily nutrient rich food supplement made from blue green algae.
- Significantly better protection against free radical damage by consuming supplements made from whole food antioxidants, such as blue green algae, or natural substances with powerful antioxidant properties like Coenzyme Q10.
- Rejuvenation, repair and cellular renewal throughout your entire body, including the infected jaw bone around a tooth with a root canal.