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Dental Amalgams, Root Canals, And Thyroid Health

Most people don’t consider problems with oral health to be related to health conditions in other bodily areas.  However, having poor oral health can increase the risk of developing certain chronic conditions, and might also play a role in the development of autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  Of course I’m not suggesting that most cases of thyroid autoimmunity are caused by poor oral health, but this is a factor that is overlooked by most people, yet should be considered.  Fortunately more and more healthcare professionals are realizing that mercury amalgams can cause problems, and some also are aware of the potential risk factors of root canals.

It should make sense when you think about the connection between oral health and the rest of the body.  This is especially true with mercury amalgams, as many people reading this are aware of the risks of these, and it’s not uncommon for me to speak with a patient who has gotten all of their silver fillings replaced.  However, many people don’t make a similar connection with root canals and other health conditions.  Part of this has to do with the approach of most dentists, as while many dental clinics are avoiding the use of mercury amalgams, most still perform root canals on a frequent basis.  In addition, while there are tests which measure the amount of mercury in the tissues, which in turn can be linked to mercury amalgams, there isn’t a reliable test to see if a root canal is causing any health issues.

Is Mercury The Cause Of Your Autoimmune Thyroid Condition?

Before talking about root canals, let’s go ahead and briefly talk about the impact of mercury.  First of all, there is no doubt that having mercury amalgams results in the release of mercury vapors during the act of chewing.  What’s controversial is the effect that the mercury vapors have on our health, and whether this can serve as a trigger for thyroid autoimmunity, as well as other health conditions.  While some studies show that there is no relationship between dental amalgams and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (1) [1], other studies have shown that the removal of dental amalgam decreases TPO and thyroglobulin antibodies in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis (2) [2].  I’ll expand on this shortly.  Both the FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consider mercury amalgams to be safe in most cases.  On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers mercury to be one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern, and mentions how exposure to mercury, even in small amounts, may cause serious health problems (3) [3].

I briefly spoke about the possible relationship between mercury and thyroid health earlier, and would like to expand on this, as there are numerous studies which demonstrate a negative effect of mercury on thyroid health.  Keep in mind that not all of these studies involve inorganic mercury, which is the mercury found in dental amalgams.  Methylmercury is found in fish, and both inorganic mercury and methylmercury can negatively impact the thyroid gland.  One study looked at the role of environmental factors in autoimmune thyroiditis, and showed that replacement of dental amalgams in mercury-allergic subjects resulted in improvement of health in about 70% of patients, and in some cases lead to a normalization of anti-thyroid autoantibodies (4) [4].  Another study looked at the relationship between mercury and thyroid autoantibodies, and showed that there is an association between mercury and thyroglobulin antibodies, but not thyroid peroxidase antibodies (5) [5].  Thyroglobulin antibodies are found in those with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  However, mercury also might play a role in the development of Graves’ Disease, as this autoimmune thyroid condition usually involves the presence of Th2 cytokines.  And I did come across a study which showed that mercury can potentially trigger or worsen Th2 cytokine production in humans (6) [6].  Although these studies focus on the effects of mercury and the immune system, numerous studies have shown that mercury can also have a direct effect on the thyroid hormones (7) [7] (8) [8].

So does this mean that everyone who has mercury amalgams should get them removed?  This remains controversial, as while there is no question that mercury shouldn’t have been used as fillings in the first place by most dentists, sometimes getting them removed can do more harm than good.  In some cases removing these amalgams can exacerbate the autoimmune response of someone who has Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  Anyone who is looking to get their mercury amalgams removed should hire a dentist who takes the proper precautions when removing them, such as a biological dentist.  You can find one of these dentists by visiting the website of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology or International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine.  Their respective websites are www.iaomt.org and www.iabdm.org.

What Is The Risk Of Having One Or More Root Canals?

While many people reading this are aware of the risks of mercury amalgams, many aren’t aware of the potential risks of root canals.  Although the American Dental Association claims that root canals are safe simply because there is no scientific evidence which show them to be harmful, there also aren’t any scientific studies which show that root canals are completely safe.  Just to let you know, the ADA still considers mercury amalgams to be safe.  Without question this is a controversial topic, as while there are many people who have had their health improve upon removing their root canals, until there are numerous scientific studies which show this then most dentists will continue to recommend this procedure to their patients.

Before talking about the potential risks of root canals it probably would be a good idea to briefly explain what a root canal entails.  First of all, a root canal is usually recommended when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp becomes damaged.  I’m not going to get into the details of the procedure, as you can find this information online, but essentially they will drill a hole into the tooth and remove the dental pulp, the decayed nerve tissue, and they will try their best to sterilize the area in order to kill the bacteria.  Once this has been accomplished the tooth will be sealed, and often times a crown will be placed over the tooth.

I left out a number of details, but the main controversy is whether all of the bacteria can successfully be eradicated.  In other words, can the canals be permanently sterilized?  Many reading this are familiar with Dr. Weston Price, who was a dentist who looked at the relationship between dental health and nutrition, and how it impacted our overall health.  Dr. Price took one thousand extracted teeth and sterilized the canals with forty different chemicals in order to see if permanent sterilization could be achieved.  After 48 hours he broke the teeth apart and cultured them, and found that all but one of the teeth had bacteria.  Other biological dentists have confirmed Dr. Price’s findings.

Although there aren’t any research studies I’m aware of which show a correlation between root canals and specific health conditions, there have been numerous people with different health conditions whose health improved dramatically upon removing their root canals.  In fact, in the article I just mentioned [9], Dr. Price stated that “the bacteria in root canals favor destruction of the nervous system and many other systems, resulting in the creation of autoimmune reactions”.  While a root canal isn’t the trigger for most autoimmune thyroid conditions, if someone who is following a natural treatment protocol has one or more root canals and doesn’t see an improvement in their health, then they might want to consider having these removed.

Should You Have Your Root Canals Removed?

If you have mercury amalgams and root canals and were to visit a biological dentist, there is an excellent chance they would advise you to replace your silver fillings.  There is also a pretty good chance they would recommend to remove any root canals you have as well.  This admittedly is a tough decision to make in some cases.  A few years ago I had a cavity in the back of my mouth that was between my teeth.  While I felt some discomfort at times, none of the dentists were able to spot it on the on the dental x-rays.  And by the time one of the dentists discovered the cavity it was too late.  Because it was towards the back of my mouth I decided I didn’t want a root canal, and I decided to get an extraction.

However, the decision isn’t as easy if someone needs to get a root canal in the front of their mouth.  If one needs a root canal in one of their front teeth and they choose to get an extraction, it probably is a good idea to get this replaced.  Truth to be told, it might also be a good idea to get it replaced if it’s towards the back of the mouth, but it’s arguably even more important to get some type of replacement for an extracted tooth in the front of the mouth.  The two options usually given are bridges and dental implants.  And there are pros and cons with each of these.

A dental bridge involves a non-removable prosthesis which is attached to the surrounding teeth.  The problem with these is that the healthy teeth surrounding the replacement tooth will usually need to be filed.  With regards to dental implants, many people receive these and seem to do fine.  However, there are a few drawbacks.  First, they are very expensive, and if someone doesn’t have dental insurance then they will be spending thousands of dollars on this.  Second, it’s an extensive procedure that will take months to complete.  And finally, most dental implants are made out of titanium, and while many people do fine with these implants, some people will react to titanium.

As a result, if someone currently has a root canal on a tooth that is towards the back of the mouth it might be best to get it extracted and not get a bridge or implant.  On the other hand, if someone has one or more root canals in the front or side teeth, then the decision to get the tooth removed can be more difficult.  Obviously the decision is ultimately up to the person, but regardless of where the root canal is, it probably would be a good idea to seek the opinion of a biological dentist to discuss the different options you have.  After all, while I have experience working with a biological dentist, and have read articles and watched videos conducted by biological dentists who spoke about root canals, I’m of course not a dentist.  And while this doesn’t prevent me from giving my opinion when someone asks about mercury amalgams or root canals, in many cases it is wise to speak with a biological dentist about this.

So hopefully you have a better understanding about the potential risks of dental amalgams and root canals.  A few different studies have shown that mercury can have a negative effect on thyroid health, as it can affect both the immune system, thus causing an increase in thyroid autoantibodies, and it can also have a direct effect on thyroid health.  As for root canals, although there aren’t any scientific studies which show that they are harmful, there also is no proof that they are safe.  And there have been many people with different health conditions who experienced a dramatic improvement in their health upon removing one or more root canals.  Does this mean that everyone with mercury amalgams and root canals should have them removed?  This remains controversial, and while there is no question that many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions can benefit from getting these removed, it probably is best to consult with a biological dentist about this.