Dr. George Meinig: Root Canal Treatment - Is There a Coverup?
A summary of dentist Dr. Weston A. Price's research findings
Former endodontist (root canal specialist) Dr. Meinig is the author of the book Root Canal Cover-Up (first published in 1993) which uncovers the forgotten research (spanning a quarter of a century) performed by eminent dentist and world traveller Dr. Weston A. Price on the deleterious health effects of root canals. While Dr. Price is well-known for his monumental work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (compare Dr. Weston A. Price's research into diet and dental health and disease), his painstaking work and scientific findings on the relationship between root canal bacteria and illness, although originally published in two hefty volumes of 1174 pages, remained thoroughly unknown until rediscovered decades later and recounted in layman's terms in Dr. George Meinig's Root Canal Cover-Up. The following article summarizes Dr. Price's findings on root canals and describes Dr. Meinig's path of discovery and efforts to gain acceptance for Dr. Price's ground-breaking work aimed at protecting an unsuspecting public.
Root Canals Pose Health Threat
by George E. Meinig, DDS, FACD, author of Root Canal Cover-Up
The Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation was organized on September 11, 1965, in order to make Dr. Weston A. Price's monumental work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration available to the public. This book clearly demonstrated to the world that human physical degeneration was basically a nutritional problem. The book made Dr. Price famous. During the last 31 years, the Foundation has reprinted Nutrition and Physical Degeneration eight times, in order to meet the growing interest in his work.
The Foundation has also had custodial care of Dr. Price's vast dental research data. Documenting his incredible accomplishments are 220 articles, which can be found in the dental and medical literature, along with two additional books. Unfortunately, until recently, Price's dental research remained unknown.
Much of Price's research is contained in two monumental volumes entitled Dental Infections Oral & Systemic and Dental Infections and the Degenerative Diseases. While these works have long been in the PPNF library, it was only just four years ago that the Foundation became aware of their importance. These volumes have moldered in obscurity because Dr. Price's research was suppressed and buried over 70 years ago by the autocratic action of a minority group of dentists and physicians who refused to accept the focal infection theory.
In spite of the thousands of experiments conducted on 5,000 animals, and in spite of the thoroughness and excellence of his root canal research, all of Price's 25 years of scientific efforts were so well covered up that there is hardly a dentist alive today who has ever heard about his discoveries.
When Pat Connolly, our beloved Executive Director, was alerted to the importance of these volumes, she brought them to my attention. Pat knew of my graduate studies with Professor Edgar Coolidge, the foremost root canal teacher and researcher in the world. She knew that I was one of 19 dentists that founded the Root Canal Association, and that I had a long association with the American Association of Endodontists. (Endodontists are specialists in root canal therapy.) In fact, my background in nutrition and root canal therapy led to my appointment as manager for the new dental office at the 20th Century Fox Movie Studio.
Pat forwarded PPNF's precious copies of the two volumes to me and suggested that I review Dr. Price's root canal studies and report back to the PPNF Board of Directors my findings and interpretation of his work.
I immediately realized, upon reading the volumes, that Dr. Price's research was thorough and sound. It was easy to see why he was so revered as a dental research specialist.
The gist of the research and of the thousands of animal studies is this:
- That root-canal-filled teeth always remain infected no matter how good they might look or how good they might feel.
Dr. Price suspected that bacterial infection accompanied many degenerative illnesses. In the beginning, he didn't know what bacteria were involved or just how they contributed to so many disease conditions. But he did recall that in medical practice doctors made cultures from the infection site, grew the organism present in a culture medium and then injected the bacteria into an animal to see if they could reproduce the disease and thereby prove it was the cause of the illness.
Dr. Price suspected that these infections arose from the teeth. He decided to implant an extracted root-filled tooth under the skin of an animal. He felt that if bacteria were present and carrying illness, their presence in a tooth might offer the same kind of proof physicians found when they injected the bacterial culture to produce disease in an animal. That is exactly what took place. He found that by implanting the root-filled tooth, the disease of the patient was transferred to animals. Whatever disease the patient had, the animal with the extracted tooth under its skin developed the same disease as the patient.
In other words, if the patient had heart disease, the animal developed heart disease. If he had kidney trouble, disease of the kidney was transferred to the animal. If he had a problem in his joints, the animals' joints became similarly involved. The principle held true for the whole spectrum of human ailments. Whatever the disease, the animal would develop that of the patient.
Most of the time Dr. Price found the bacteria involved were of the streptococcus family, but he also found staphylococcus, spirochetes and fungi. He found that if a patient had more than one root-canal treated tooth, he could actually have a different organism infecting each one of the treated teeth. That is the reason some people have various ailments from their teeth, all at the same time. In addition, infected root canals have a detrimental effect on the immune system, causing a number of different illnesses.
For a long time, Dr. Price had trouble finding out just how the bacteria existed in the tooth. His own experience in treating infection present in root canals led him to believe that disinfectants controlled the organisms. Thousands of experiments proved this assumption to be incorrect.
Price discovered that the dentin, which makes up 95 percent of the structure of the teeth, was not a solid stone-like mass but consisted of very tiny tubules (see this impressive close-up-and-personal picture of human dentin at 2000x enlargement). Undamaged dentin tubules contain a nutrient-dense fluid that keeps the teeth alive and healthy. These nutrients are supplied daily to each tubule by the artery that accompanies the nerve and vein in the root canal. The artery does this in the same way that other arteries supply nutrients to every cell of the body.
When tooth decay spreads and attacks a tooth, it can usually be removed by a dentist and the tooth saved with a filling. However, if the decay is neglected or not discovered until after it spreads into the root canal of the tooth itself, then the nerve and blood vessels become infected from the bacteria which are part of the tooth decay process.
The bacteria easily and rapidly travel the entire root canal and of course they easily discover those tubules and their nutrient supply. The organisms have, in fact, found a new home, one in which they grow and rapidly reproduce.*
* Note by Healing Teeth Naturally: I believe the above to be a somewhat erroneous representation of what happens in a tooth affected by decay. Judging by research such as that by Drs. Steinman and Leonora (as well as by common sense), bacteria involved in creating carious lesions already inhabit dentinal tubules even before they "get a chance" to break through into the root canal from whence to "discover those tubules". Also compare this impressive Testimonial: salt water brushing has healed cavities where fluoride toothpaste failed showing that it is not (or certainly not necessarily) only fillings laid by a dentist which save teeth - quite the opposite in my view. More examples of carious teeth improving or apparently self-healing can be found under Testimonials and in other sections of this site.
Dr. Price's microscope photographs, published along with his research, show the dentin tubules with bacteria in them.
Although most dentists know about dentin tubules, it is only in the last few years that any have ever heard of bacteria residing in them. I personally never heard or knew about their presence until just four years ago when I saw Dr. Price's photographs. Remember that his work containing the photos was published way back in 1923!
You will find these pictures in my book Root Canal Cover-Up, along with several recent electron microscope pictures. The electron microscope photographs magnify these tubules and bacteria up to 5,000 times, making the bacteria, which are much smaller than the period at the end of this sentence, appear as big as peas in a pod.
Most dentists are unfamiliar with the presence of bacteria in the dentin tubules and are ignorant of the fact that these bacteria escape and spread throughout the body, causing a vast number of degenerative diseases.
Your dentist may think that the disinfecting treatment he uses during root canal therapy would cause the death of these bacteria. Treatment does kill most bacteria in the root canal, but Price found that not one of the over 100 disinfectants he studied was capable of penetrating the tubules. The same holds true for antibiotics today.
Some dentists argue that the bacteria die off because the root canal filling blocks off their source of nutrients.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, the bacteria are capable of mutating and changing their form. Price found that the challenge of a changed environment actually caused the organisms to become more virile and their toxins much more toxic. It will interest you to know that this discovery of Dr. Price's was confirmed in recent times by a German oncologist named Dr. Josef Issels. He was able to identify these toxins and found them to be closely related to the same chemicals used by the Germans in World War I to make mustard gas.
The bacteria which contribute to most of today's diseases no longer can be killed by antibiotics because the same polymorphic ability of bacteria to mutate, change and adjust that happens in root canals is happening to these organisms in response to antibiotics. These bacteria are involved in most illnesses.
How do bacteria -- apparently trapped in the dentin tubules -- escape to other parts of the body? There are billions of germs in tubules of root canal-treated teeth and those in the vicinity of any of the lateral accessory root canals present in all teeth, can escape into them. From there they travel into the tooth's surrounding periodontal membrane. This is the hard, fibrous membrane that holds the tooth in its bony socket and keeps it from falling out.
The bacteria then spread throughout the periodontal membrane and from there it is easy for them to escape into the surrounding bony network. Everybody knows that cancer cells can metastasize and break away from the main cancer and travel to another gland, organ or tissue. Similarly, when bacteria get into the tooth's bony socket, they also get into the blood supply of the jaw, allowing them to metastasize and travel in the blood vessels to another gland, organ or tissue and establish a whole new infection.
This is called focal infection -- caused when an infection in one part of the body travels to another part and sets up a new site of infection.
The American Association of Endodontists -- which I helped organize and which lists me as a life member -- states that they have proven over the years that the focal infection theory is invalid. The arguments they cite are incorrect. They are based on false assumptions.
There are several reasons why they have been misled about this. One is the fact that 25 to 30 percent of people seem to get along with root-canal-filled teeth for many years without any detrimental effects. Dr. Price studied that very problem. He found that those people who had no history of degenerative diseases usually had strong immune systems which were capable of engulfing any bacteria present and prevented them from becoming sick. However, Price found that if these same people suffered a severe accident, a bad case of the flu or some serious stress problem, their immune systems that had been protecting them would become so compromised that they would then become ill with a degenerative disease.
What about the 70 percent of our people who have poorer immune systems to start with? Price found -- and we are finding today -- that they develop degenerative diseases much sooner, many of them right after completion of the root canal treatment.
The endodontists' efforts to save teeth are desirable and admirable, but in their enthusiasm for saving teeth they too often lose the patient.
They cite numbers of studies that they believe establish the efficacy of root canal treatment but they never mention the bacteria in the dentin tubules. It they want to deny the finding of Dr. Price in this regard, it behooves them to come up with peer review research to prove his findings are inaccurate. Their assertion that this is "old research that has been disproved" is only a statement -- a statement without scientific backing.
In the April 1944 Journal of Endodontics, the message from outgoing President Eric J. Hoveland, DDS, MEd, MBA stated that formerly, endodontists took great pride in being scientists, but "now it is much different." The talk is on new products and "manufacturer-led" innovations in equipment. Where is the science, the biology? It must continue to be the basis for this specialty.
As I began to present Dr. Price's research about root canals, I had hoped that the American Association of Endodontists would take a serious look at his discoveries and that they would then initiate research to discover how to kill the bacteria in the dentin tubules and successfully treat tooth infections. At present, they have failed to face these issues. However, numbers of independent-minded dentists have been using new and different approaches.
Ultrasound, lasers, colloidal silver, garlic, Enderlein sanum remedies, nutrition, the French calcium oxide treatment and prayer are among the approaches being investigated. It is gratifying that people have at last become concerned about the extraction of infected teeth and are impatient for a better solution. Keep in mind, to be scientific and actually prove the safety of any treatment procedure takes time. Such research challenges our patience and ability to face the conditions that currently confront us.
For those facing the dilemma of existing root canals, the status of one's health and its maintenance is the paramount consideration. The effect of dental infection upon one's immune system must be considered. People with degenerative disease often live long lives, but unfortunately such longevity is marred by suffering and disabilities. At the same time, the resulting degenerative diseases do cause many to die before their time. This is the main question that one must face in considering whether or not to remove root-canal-filled teeth. The problem is: How good is our immune system and how long will it be able to protect us?
The spirit of "alternative" or "functional" medicine demands that each individual assume responsibility for his own health. In order to do so, one must learn everything he can about his problem. If you have a root canal or periodontal disease, the best way to gain this information is to read and study my report of Dr. Price's research, Root Canal Cover-Up, so that you will have sufficient background to assess the opinions of doctors and dentists with whom you consult, as they often know nothing of research discoveries.
If you are a professional or are capable of digesting technical data, you can contact the PPNF office for copies of Dr. Price's original two volumes. Having performed root canal therapy for many years, I read Dr. Price's two volumes of documentation with utter shock. I became very concerned about the millions of people who are suffering illness from the infection still present in their root-canal-filled teeth. I worried about how PPNF would ever find someone with sufficient background to adequately bring the subject to the public and to health professionals. It would have been easy enough to make copies of Dr. Price's two volumes available to health professionals alone, but such an approach would have ensured that Dr. Price's research remained obscure. The public had to be told.
Because of my 30-year service with PPNF, as well as my extensive professional background, it seemed that I was the logical person to take on the task of informing the public and medical profession about Dr. Price's root canal research discoveries. It wasn't an easy decision as it was obvious that anyone doing so would risk alienating many colleagues and friends, and would certainly invite resentment and anger. On the other hand, I knew that many were ill because of these dental and oral infections. In dwelling on their plight, I began to realize that I was being given an opportunity, a calling, and a privilege to inform people everywhere of the relevance of Dr. Price's work to the state of their personal health.
On June 25, 1993, the first edition came off the press. It sold out in seven months. During that time, I learned much more about the problem of jawbone cavitation infections1 that often occur where infected teeth have been previously extracted. Therefore, I rewrote Chapter 24 for the second edition, and made some other minor changes. The title was shortened and the cover changed. This somewhat larger printing sold out in one year. In April of 1996, our fourth printing came off the press. Book publishers and authors tell us that this is a very good record for a self-published book.
In 1996, I gave lectures to 21 organizations (mostly medical, dental and other health professionals) and was interviewed on 28 radio and two television stations. These appearances have been a great boost to book sales. The word about the serious side effects of root canal therapy is getting out. Those who have been suffering from these infections are talking.
Three years ago, the Root Canal Association stated that there are 20 million root canals being treated each year. The logical conclusion is that a high percentage of our current degenerative disease epidemic can be laid at the door of the cover-up of Dr. Price's research over 70 years ago.
You are all aware that many of the great medical discoveries sometimes take years and years of research to locate the organism causing the disease. In almost all cases it is one organism causing one disease.
Dr. Price found that at least 20 organisms were responsible for infections in the teeth. These 20 organisms caused not one disease but numbers of oral and dental illnesses. But more importantly these germs are responsible for an enormous number of medical diseases manifesting in other parts of the body. These discoveries of Dr. Price greatly overshadow any single medical disease discovered by other physicians. Dr. Price should have received the Nobel Price for all his discoveries, but that eluded him when his work was covered up.
In the hours and hours of time I have spent with the studies of the work of that genius, I have concluded that Dr. Weston Price's 25-year root canal research ranks as one of the greatest discoveries in the history of medicine.
Footnotes by Healing Teeth Naturally
1 Cavitation: "spherical" infection in the jaw bone, see Dental cavitations and cavitation infections (ischemic osteonecrosis): dangerous hidey-holes in the jawbone.