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Natural Awakenings NYC & Long Island

The Healthy Alternatives to Root Canal

By Dr. Lewis Gross

When a tooth is dying, a common method of treating the pain is with a root canal. However, this is not always the best choice of treatment. There are alternatives to a root canal that are safer for the patients’ oral and systemic health. These options are often less expensive too.

 If the tooth senses cold, then it’s still vital—it can be saved with an herbal filling. If the tooth senses hot pain, then the nerve inflammation is less reversible, but it’s still possible. If the root canal was already done, get a 3-D cone beam CBCT x-ray to determine if the tooth is still diseased. Chronic infections don’t always show up on a traditional 2-D x-ray, and they may not hurt until it’s too late.

 A common scenario that can lead to a root canal is that the dentist diagnoses that a previous filling or new decay is close to a nerve, or there’s pain under a crown. Traditional dentists then remove the inner pulp—the nerves and blood vessels that are the tooth’s vital organs. This may temporarily stop the pain, but it kills the tooth. The dead tissue decomposes, and the resulting pus and gas have no place to escape.

An alternative approach is to clean the cavity with ozone and place an herbal filling, which calms the nerve and allows it to regenerate. If the pain is under a crown, the dentist can also try redoing it, as it may not fit correctly.

Root Canal Dangers

Doing a root canal on an already-infected tooth entombs bacteria in the bone. These microbes, which are anaerobic (they don’t need air), are some of the most dangerous microorganisms. They have been associated with many systemic illnesses and act as a harbor for Lyme disease spirochetes. A tooth has thousands of micro-tubules where they can survive even after a root canal. Your body is in a constant state of battle with these infections, which you can never win, and which may lead to pockets of dead bone. Imagine a watering can with a slow leak: That’s what happens to your immune system.

Infected teeth should be extracted with ozone and PRF stem cells. Metal-free implants or Valplast partials are excellent replacements. A good holistic oral surgeon will have experience with these treatments. It’s always better to preserve as much of the natural tooth as possible.

 Dr. Lewis Gross is director of Holistic Dentists, located at 17 Park Place, in Tribeca. To make an appointment, call 212-732-2200. Online consultations are available for non-local patients. For more information, visit   

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