Focal Infection Theory and Buteyko Breathing Practice
Content of this web page
1. Western medical
Historical roots of the focal infections theory
focal infections research
as a common focal infection
of dead tonsils on health
Athlete's feet as a focal infection
Helminthes or large parasites living in humans
Non-surgical (or traditional) treatment of root canals
Buteyko focal infections and clinical experience
How dead tonsils prevent high CPs
How cavities in teeth block the CP growth
2.3 Effects of breathing training on feet mycosis (athlete's feet)
Intestinal parasites prevent CP increase
Effects of root canals on health and CP
Practical actions in relation to focal infections
3.2 Cavities in teeth
3.3 Feet mycosis
3.4 Intestinal parasites
3.5 Root canals
4. Mercury amalgams
5. Visiting a chiropractor
Dr. Frank Billings (MD) was the most visible Western proponent of the
theory of focal infections. He was quite an unusual President of the AMA
(American Medical Association) by stating, “I place NO confidence in drugs.
Drugs are valueless as cures.” Dr. Billings suggested in 1898 that
microorganisms could contribute to numerous systemic diseases. Among his
more recent publications was the article "Systemic Diseases of Focal
Origin." Forchheimer'i Therapeusis, 1914, V, 169. 10.
His theory was at first very popular among medical professionals, causing
widespread surgeries of tonsils (even after the slightest provocation) and
extraction of dead teeth. Such an over-zealous practice naturally resulted in
reasonable criticism from other doctors. As a result, later his theory was
largely forgotten. (For a historical review of his theory one can consult
the recent paper, “Germs, Dr. Billings, and the theory of focal infection”
by R.V. Gibbons published in 1998 in “Clinical Infectious Diseases”).
However, recent works and studies confirmed the connection between
certain local pathological processes (especially in teeth and tonsils) and
various systemic diseases. In particular, there is impressive modern
research collected by Japanese (Mizutani et al, 1997; Hattori, 1998; Okuda &
Ebihara, 1998; Kataura, 2002), Norwegian (Debelian et al,1994; Li et al,
2000), American (Meyer & Fives-Taylor, 1998; Lockhart & Durack, 1999;
Joshipura et al, 2000), and other medical professionals (e.g., Meurman,
1997; Gendron et al, 2000) in relation to oral focal infections.
The connection between the focal infections and various health problems
is now a fact that is proven by detailed biochemical investigations, which
show the mechanism of pathological interactions. For example, Japanese
researchers summarized, “It is known that primary lesions of these chronic
[oral] bacterial infections secondarily cause nephritis, rheumatoid
arthritis, and dermatitis. Further, it has been demonstrated in recent years
that bacteria inhabiting the oral cavity can cause bacterial pneumonia and
endocarditis and that the periodontal-disease-associated bacteria become
causative agents for pregnancy troubles and are involved in blood
circulation problems and coronary heart disease” (Okuda & Ebihara, 1998).
That is the reason why, for example, in Japan certain blood tests and
troubles with skin, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and pregnancies can be the
indications for tonsillectomy and other steps of oral sanitation.
Serious health complications are expected in cases of periodontal
problems as American authors of the article “Periodontal disease and its
association with systemic disease” revealed:
“…Currently, there is increasing evidence that the relationship between
these entities may be bidirectional. Recent case-control and cross-sectional
studies indicate that periodontitis may confer a 7-fold increase in risk for
preterm low birth weight infants and a 2-fold increase in risk for
cardiovascular disease. These early reports indicate the potential
association between systemic and oral health. Additionally, these studies
support the central hypothesis that periodontal disease involves both a
local and a systemic host inflammatory response. This knowledge of disease
interrelationships may prove vital in intervention strategies to reduce
patient risks and prevent systemic disease outcomes” (Fowler et al , 2001).
A recent review by Dr. Shay from
the University of Michigan School of
Dentistry suggested that “Dental caries occurs when acidic metabolites of
oral streptococci dissolve enamel and dentin. Dissolution progresses to cavitation and, if untreated, to bacterial invasion of dental pulp, whereby
oral bacteria access the bloodstream. Oral organisms have been linked to
infections of the endocardium, meninges, mediastinum, vertebrae,
hepatobiliary system, and prosthetic joints. Periodontitis is a
pathogen-specific, lytic inflammatory reaction to dental plaque that
degrades the tooth attachment. Periodontal disease is more severe and less
readily controlled in people with diabetes; impaired glycemic control may
exacerbate host response. Aspiration of oropharyngeal (including
periodontal) pathogens is the dominant cause of nursing home-acquired
pneumonia; factors reflecting poor oral health strongly correlate with the
increased risk of developing aspiration pneumonia. Bloodborne
periodontopathic organisms may play a role in atherosclerosis. Daily oral
hygiene practice and receipt of regular dental care are cost-effective means
for minimizing morbidity of oral infections and their nonoral sequelae”
Is there any Western data supporting the increased sensitivity of the immune
system, for example, in case of caries or cavities, when the organism is healthier? That
was the subject of part 3 of the review paper “Dental caries: a dent on
dogma” written by Dr. John Gabrovsek (Gabrovsek, 1997). The subtitle of part
3 is “Stronger host response to dental caries infection. Result: ‘More
dental caries development!’” There he starts with, “Is this an outrageous
statement? Just think what a little pollen can do to you? If you are
allergic to the pollen your body defenses can kill you. The fact that the
host defense response may harm the host itself has been recognized in pathology
for quite some time. This fact is certainly not taken into account, or
recognized in dental caries research” (Gabrovsek, 1997).
Is there a known biochemical mechanism that causes such an adverse
reaction? As Dr. Gabrovsek explains, “For those who are not familiar with
what inflammatory cells can do, I quote a short paragraph from Baer and
Benjamin: “These cells are attracted to the site by the presence of bacteria
and bacterial by-products, and conjugates of antigen-complement- antibody
may not only act beneficially by phagocytizing these elements, with
subsequent intracellular digestion, but may also liberate their cellular
compliments of acid hydrolases, as lysosomal membrane is dissolved. These
enzymes are multiphasic in their effects, and serve to invoke collagen
resorption, matrix dissolution, vascular dilation, and permeability - the
destructive facet of the inflammatory state. The inflammatory cells with the
greatest propensity for tissue destruction are neutrophil, and monocyte””
(p.21, Baer & Benjamin, 1974).
The most successful practical Western methods for the treatment of, for
example, cancer are also based on due attention to focal infections. Dr.
Josef Issels, in his famous book "Cancer: a second opinion", wrote, "The
emphasis I place on removal of devitalized teeth and chronically-diseased
tonsils is one of the better-known aspects of my work, but also one of
the most criticized and misunderstood. I do not, for instance, recommend
that healthy tonsils and teeth be removed from a healthy person. But I
believe if they are diseased, they cause the body's natural resistance to be
lowered, thus acting as an important contributory factor to tumor
development. In these cases, I insist on their removal" (p. 117, Issels,
Interestingly, his chart with the title "Hypothesis of pathogenesis of
cancer" lists the following causal (or primary) factors for cancer
development: foci, teeth, tonsils, fields of natural disturbance, abnormal
intestinal flora, faulty diet, chemical factors, physical factors, and
psychic factors (p. 53, Issels, 1975).
The influence of tonsils on psoriasis was investigated by Japanese
dermatologists who found, using a tonsillar provocation test, certain
negative biochemical changes in the blood contributing to psoriasis
(Mizutani et al, 1997).
Moreover, fever and other complications can be successfully treated by
tonsillectomy (of course, if tonsils are dead), as another group of Japanese
“Thirty patients (above 18 years) who had complained of low grade fever were
diagnosed as having tonsillar focal infection. We performed tonsillectomies
on all the patients. A total of 24 were cured and 6 patients improved after
the operation. These results indicate that tonsillectomy is often an
effective treatment for tonsillar focal infection. However, the provocation
test did not always give a good result” (Takeuchi et al, 1996). Thus, all 30
patients in this study benefited from the operation.
“About 15% of the population have fungal infections of the feet (tinea
pedis or athlete's foot)” (Bell-Syer et al, 2002), as US researchers report.
These infections also seriously affect the immune system.
“…Patients with mycoses of the soles with involvement of the nail plates, as
well as those suffering from eczemas combined with mycoses developed a most
marked reduction of the activity of the leukocyte migration inhibition
factor (LMIF) and of the T lymphocyte mediator activity in the presence of
the fungal antigen. The studies have detected the pattern of the leukocyte
phagocytic reaction disturbances in the patients with mycoses and eczemas of
the soles” (abstract, Iutskovskii, 1989).
According to Dr. P. J. Brindley and his colleagues from the Department of
Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine (George Washington
University Medical Center, Washington, D. C., USA), "More than two billion
people (one-third of humanity) are infected with parasitic roundworms or
flatworms, collectively known as helminthic parasites. These infections
cause diseases that are responsible for enormous levels of morbidity and
mortality, delays in the physical development of children, loss of
productivity among the workforce, and maintenance of poverty" (Brindley et
Among the most common helminth species that affect humans are roundworms,
tapeworms, pinworms, trichina spiralis, and flukes. Generally, only mature
worms produce symptoms and these symptoms depend on the type of the parasite
and personal parameters.
Since official mainstream medicine does not know the cause and
methods of treatment of chronic diseases, there are no published studies
that explain interactions between large parasites and chronic diseases.
It is obvious that mainstream dentists, endodontists (dentists
specializing in diseases of the dental pulp and nerve), and
periodontists (dentists specializing in diseases of the gums and other structure surrounding the
teeth) do not routinely deal with people who recover from chronic diseases
and improve their health using breathing techniques. They simply do not have
any clinical experience in relation to the dynamic and interactions between
endodontic infections and host defense response during breathing retraining. Therefore, while the
information presented in their research is probably accurate, it cannot be
applied directly for breathing retraining since most of their conclusions
relate to the nearly static situations common for ordinary sick and
relatively healthy people.
What are the findings?
1. All root canals contain anaerobic bacteria regardless of the methods
and techniques used by dental professionals these days (Weiger et al, 1995;
Debelian et al, 1998; Peters et al, 2002). Anaerobes, which produce most
powerful toxins, as in the case of cavities, usually represent more than
half of the different types of bacteria found in extracted root canals or root
canals removed from human cadavers. It was also found that bacteria from the
sinus cavities are usually identical to those found in root canals.
2. While the main concerns of holistically-oriented people relate to toxins
and inflammation produced by these anaerobes and other pathogens, the main
danger of the root canal conventional operation is due to the apical part of
the treated tooth. Up to 50-90% of root canals develop periodontitis
(inflammation) in the apical part of root canals according to (Wu et al, 2006).
The 2-part review study "Outcome of primary root canal treatment: systematic
review of the literature" (Ng et al, 2008-2008) has found that
the average short-term success rate of modern root canals treatments ranges
between 68% and 85%. The same review discovered 4 factors that can improve
the success rate: pre-operative absence of periapical radiolucency, root
filling with no voids (this is often impossible due to the complex shape of many
root canals), root filling extending to 2 mm within the radiographic apex
and satisfactory coronal restoration.
3. The most common cause of the failure of the root canal treatment
operation is the incomplete blockage of the entire root canal system (Chevigny
et al, 2008).
is only through considering the breathing retraining process that the full picture
of the relationship between the focal infection and chronic disease can be
provided. Dr. Buteyko and his colleagues clinically observed, tested and developed their theory of focal
infections. They suggested that the ideal situation for the clinical remission
from chronic disease is to have holistically oriented dentists and otolaryngologists who are familiar with breathing
training, know about the effects of focal infections on the health of Buteyko
students, and treat the focal infections with the goal of breathing
normalization. Let us consider some of these effects.
The presence of focal infections interferes with the ability of patients
to increase their CPs, normalize breathing, or even to recover from relapses
of the main disease (if present). The focal infections cannot be eliminated using
the Buteyko breathing exercises and lifestyle changes. Moreover, due to the "rebound effect", the
health of patients who have focal infections may get even worse
when the breathing exercises are practiced and higher CPs are temporarily
The effect of dead or degenerated tonsils on one's health and CP is easy
to understand using a practical example. Imagine an asthmatic, who starts with about a 10
second CP and raises it up to 20-25 s. His asthma is then under control (no
attacks at all) when his CP gets up to 20-23 s, but if this patient has, for
example, dead tonsils, further progress (beyond 25 s CP) would cause
a high-grade fever and throat pain with coughing, angina, and copious mucosal
discharges, all due to the severe reaction of the immune system which tries
to fight the bacteria and toxins generated in the dead
The problem is that the degenerated tonsils have no normal blood supply
and the immune cells in the blood cannot reach the pathogens hiding in his tonsils.
As a result, the immune system creates inflammation in the
surrounding tissues and the pathogens use this inflamed area to their
advantage as a new breeding ground. That leads to fever and infection with
heavier breathing and sudden CP drop down to about 10-15 s. As a result,
this student may again get his asthma attacks due to the fact that the focal
infection in the dead tonsils became worse due to the higher CP achieved (25-30 s)
and this made the CP drop back down due to the rebound effect caused by
his dead tonsils. This vicious circle (Breath work and better health
→ Higher CP
→ Tonsillar infection and fever → Low CP and recovery from the infection →
Breath work and better health →
Higher CP → Tonsillar infection and fever → Low
CP ) can go on forever due to the rebound effect, even with
application of other therapies (medication and antibiotics, throat gargling
with best natural remedies, and many others), if these techniques do not
kill the pathogens in the tonsils.
These adverse reactions cause the students with focal infections to lose
their enthusiasm for practicing the Buteyko method, as Russian MDs
reported, and resulted in their quitting therapy (e.g., Souliagin, 1991).
Indeed, why should one continue to do something that causes strong adverse effects?
As another example, imagine that a student has cavities in her teeth.
This person can improve her breathing, and thus recover from a chronic
health condition. When her CP rises up to about 30-40 s, her immune system can turn
its attention to cavity-causing pathogens, but cannot defeat them since
these pathogens reside on the surface of the teeth with no blood access. More breath
work leads to an even stronger immune response, but this enemy (cavities) is
beyond the immune systems' abilities. Therefore, no further progress is possible
although here there is no noticeable rebound effect if the student maintains
good or normal dental hygiene. (Poor hygiene with higher CP will favor the
advance of cavities in other
If a student has low CP (e.g., below 20 s), his athlete's foot infection
usually remains dormant. While there could be an affected area between
the smallest fingers/toes and light skin peeling, there is no redness, bleeding or
feeling hot. This status quo can be present for years. However, when his CP
rises up to 25-40 s, mycosis of the feet advances to neighboring areas causing
intense skin peeling, redness, deep lesions, bleeding and a sensation of heat in the foot. The higher the CP achieved, the worse the spread of
this fungal infection due to the same rebound effect.
The toxins produced by mature intestinal parasites intensify breathing
regardless of the CP (immature parasites do not affect breathing to the same
extent). Their negative effects depend mostly on their types and load, as
well as their feeding cycles and food availability. Generally, depending on
these factors, the presence of intestinal parasites restricts the CP to the
20 and 40 s CP.
This is the most unpredictable focal infection. It can be deadly for some
patients or hardly noticeable at medium CP levels depending on the quality of
periodontal work done. Properly done root canal treatments, with the right
disinfection and correct sealing procedures, would probably not cause any big
problems for a person with a moderate CP (about 25-30 s). In this case, the
immune system is strong enough to prevent the interaction of bacteria from dead
teeth with other organs, while the toxins can be safely eliminated by the immune
system of the
If one's tonsils have been infected for several years, it is impossible to
restore their functional abilities. In this case, tonsillectomy is necessary
for breathing normalization and going beyond 25-30 s CP. Children who have
had infected tonsils for only 1-2 years can sometimes restore their
tonsils using special conservative and prophylactic measures.
Regular visits to a dentist are important for general health. However,
sometimes caries can develop in the tiny cracks of treated teeth (between the
filling and tooth) so that they are invisible even during dental
examination, but still a very small amount of toxins are able to leak out.
When the Buteyko student gets a daily CP of over 40-50 CPs,
while following the Level 3 course, he may notice that something prevents
his further CP progress, while the morning CP remains below 40 s.
Gargling the mouth with a strong antiseptic
solution for several minutes 3-4 times per day can suppress the pathogens and that can allow him to temporarily
achieve much higher CP numbers (e.g., 10 s more with the application of this
method) and maybe even temporarily break through 40 s. If the use of this
method does not yield any CP improvements, there are no cavities present.
The application of over-counter creams and the disinfection of all shoes and
socks are necessary to deal with this fungus causing athlete's feet. There are new creams available
on the market that have a double action. The cream is to be applied exactly as
instructed: usually twice per day using a very thin layer, but for the whole
affected area. The therapy should continue for some 5-7 days after all signs
of the infections have disappeared. Natural remedies (including essential oils,
garlic, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, urine, and many others) have a notoriously poor
success rate against athlete's foot.
When the parasitic load is high, the student can easily notice that while
she eats more food, she does not gain weight, but may possibly even lose it. If
this is the case, a family physician can take fecal samples (2-3 times may be
required since many worms have cycles of laying eggs). Then either the standard
medication or some natural remedies (papaya diet and/or water fasting and
certain herbs) can be used. It is much more difficult to identify the presence
of intestinal parasites, when there are only a few worms, which are not large
in size. Paying attention to symptoms is useful in such cases: for example,
activities of hook worms usually cause anal itching (since these worms lay
their eggs at night near the anus), roundworms cause cold feet even at high
are people who achieved up to 2-3 min CPs. However, any student with a serious chronic health problem (cancer, COPD, ephysema, diabetes,
arthritis, combinations of 2 or more chronic conditions, and some other cases) should not have root canals
The root canal not only generates toxins due to anaerobes and other
pathogens living inside about 20 km tiny tubules (former blood vessels of
the live teeth), but in addition there is a film formed around the dead
tooth and, when the CP is below 20 s, even temporarily, the tissues of the
dead-end artery leading to this tooth and the vein leaving the same tooth often
become the source of infection and toxicity. Indeed, when the
artery leading to the healthy live tooth is cut, the stagnated blood cannot
offer resistance to pathogens at low CPs. Furthermore, these dead blood
vessels, since they become available to pathogens often cause the appearance of
cardiovascular problems due to activities of the same pathogens in other
parts of the human body causing the spread of this systemic disease. These
processes and blood bacteremia are very active when the CP drops below 10 s
(e.g., during early morning hours), since the immune system does not offer
its resistance to bacteria, viruses and fungi in the blood for the last 2
stages of the disease (see the
Buteyko Table of Health
Zones for other parameters of the last 2 terminal stages). Even when the
CP is between 10 and 20 s, the immune processes are severely suppressed by
hyperventilation and cell hypoxia.
If the CP remains low (less than 20 s) for weeks after the root canal operation, these
dysfunctional tissues putrefy and become the source of spreading
infection and inflammation that, at a certain stage, is even visible on X-Rays
(see the picture at the top of this web page).
The presence of long-standing health problems often results in a situation
where bacteria from the teeth start to interact with the pathogens existing
in other diseased organs (that can probably happen due to their mutations
since a long time is available for these enemies to unite against
the immune system). As a result, the treatment of other health problems
becomes impossible (the teeth bacteria, which are inaccessible, provide a
support for other pathogens) unless the dead teeth are extracted.
Therefore, in cases of poor health, long-standing serious health problems or
the weakened immune system, it is advisable to extract the dead teeth as
soon as possible even without cardiovascular-problem manifestations.
Several published studies found a link between root canals and an increased
incidence of the heart diseases (Mattila, 1993; Mattila et al, 2000; Dorn et
al, 2002; Willershausen et al, 2009). In my view, the existence or appearance of
any cardiovascular problem is the definite indication of the necessity of
removing one's root canals. Only then progress with breathing training and higher CP is more
Conclusions. The student may do the best breathing exercises, follow the best
dietary suggestions and the optimum plan for physical activity, but if he or
any of these focal problems, he/she will be forever stuck at the level of about
25-40 s CP or even less.
If somebody cannot eliminate any of these focal infections (e.g., an old
person with severe periodontal disease does not want all his teeth to be
extracted), it is not advisable and is even dangerous to increase the CP beyond
30-40 s (Souliagin, 1991).
This is not the classical Buteyko focal infection, but the biochemical
and physiological effects of silver amalgam fillings, which are more than
50% mercury and which are often associated with chronic fatigue syndrome,
digestive problems, and nerve diseases, are similar, in many ways, to
cavities and root canals. There were separate
cases when some Buteyko students, with no serious chronic health problems,
were able to achieve very high CPs (up to 1-2 min) even with mercury
amalgams present. However, with the
presence of chronic diseases, mercury amalgams can become and often do become
the main factor that prevents personal recovery.
When mercury amalgams are present, consider using Selenium-antioxidant
supplementation (about 200 mcg per day). Selenium forms an insoluble and
absolutely harmless salt with mercury SeHg even in blood plasma (e.g.,
Yoneda & Suzuki, 1997; Cherdwongcharoensuk et al, 2010). Furthermore, if one
chews the Se tablet and keeps it in the mouth for some 2-3 minutes, the selenium
should even react with the mercury present on the surface of the amalgam and
form the same salt SeHg as a ceramic coating that prevents mercury leaking.
Mercury leaking takes place 24/7 at a rate of about 1-10 mcg/day (depending
on the total area of the mercury amalgams) and especially during chewing or
having chemically active substances in the mouth (e.g., acids). Adding
seaweeds to one's diet will also help to chelate Hg from the body, since
seaweeds, especially when they are eaten in a raw form, are the best natural
absorbents of heavy and radioactive metals.
When the disks of the spine are not correctly aligned, various pains can appear, including chest pain, angina pain,
stomach pain, appendix pain, etc. However all these organs
may be healthy, and in such cases the student and his doctors cannot
find the cause of pain since all tests would be negative. If the spine is
poorly aligned, only manual correction can help. Moreover, pathological processes in
the spine due to displacement of its disks can lead to inflammation,
infections, bone overgrowth, intensive wear, and other negative effects. For
these reasons Doctor Buteyko and his wife, Ludmila Buteyko learned
professional chiropractic techniques to help their patients. If a student
suspects that the spine requires manual
adjustment, a visit to a good chiropractor would be as important, in
relation to his or her health normalization and CP growth, as fixing dental cavities or
removing intestinal worms.
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Combinations of bacterial species in endodontic infections.
Peters LB, Wesselink PR, van Winkelhoff AJ.
Department of Cariology Endodontology Pedodontology, Academic Center for
Dentistry Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
AIM: This study was undertaken to investigate combinations of bacteria found
in root-canal infections of teeth with periapical bone destruction without
clinical signs and symptoms.
METHODOLOGY: Endodontic samples from 58 root canals were cultured
anaerobically and microorganisms were counted and identified. Eighty-one
combinations of microorganisms were found and tested for a symbiotic
relationship using the Fisher's exact test and Odds ratio calculation.
RESULTS: All samples contained microorganisms with a median CFU mL(-1) of
8x10(4) per sample. Strict anaerobic species accounted for 87% of the
microflora. The most prevalent bacteria were Prevotella intermedia,
Peptostreptococcus micros and Actinomyces odontolyticus, present in 33, 29
and 19%, respectively, of the cultured canals. A significant relationship
(P<0.05) and an Odds ratio >2 were found between P. intermedia and P.
micros, P. intermedia and P. oralis, A. odontolyticus and P. micros,
Bifidobacterium spp. and Veillonella spp. Conclusions: These results
indicate that endodontic pathogens do not occur at random but are found in
Ann Periodontol. 1998 Jul;3(1):281-7.
Anaerobic bacteremia and fungemia in patients undergoing endodontic therapy:
Debelian GJ, Olsen I, Tronstad L.
Division of Endodontics, Dental Faculty, University of Oslo, Norway.
Oral focal infection, a concept neglected for several decades, is a subject
of controversy. Recent progress in classification and identification of oral
microorganisms has renewed interest in focal infection. The aim of this
study was to use phenotypic and genetic methods to trace microorganisms
released into the bloodstream during and after endodontic treatment back to
their presumed source--the root canal. Microbiological samples were taken
from the root canals of 26 patients with asymptomatic apical periodontitis
of single-rooted teeth. The blood of the patients was drawn during and 10
minutes after endodontic therapy. Microorganisms in blood were collected
after anaerobic lysis filtration and cultured anaerobically on blood agar
plates. The phenotypic methods used for characterization and tracing of
microorganisms in blood and root canals were: biochemical and antimicrobial
susceptibility test, SDS-PAGE of whole-cell soluble proteins, and gas
chromatography of cellular fatty acids. Phenotypic data were verified by DNA
restriction patterns and corresponding ribotypes of the root canal and blood
isolates by using a computer-assisted system fro gel analysis. All root
canals contained anaerobic bacteria. The frequency of bacteremia varied from
31% to 54%. The microorganisms from the root canal and blood presented
identical phenotype and genetic characteristics within the patients
examined. These characteristics differed between patients. The present study
demonstrated that endodontic treatment can be the cause of anaerobic
bacteremia and fungemia. The phenotypic and genetic methods used appeared
valuable for tracing microorganisms in the blood back to their origin.
Endod Dent Traumatol. 1995 Feb;11(1):15-9.
Microbial flora of sinus tracts and root canals of non-vital teeth.
Weiger R, Manncke B, Werner H, Löst C.
Department of Conservative Dentistry, University of Tübingen, Germany.
The occurrence of bacteria in 12 endodontically induced periodontal lesions
associated with sinus tracts was examined. The microbial flora encountered
in the sinus tract was compared with that of the root canal of the involved
teeth which had not experienced any prior endodontic therapy. All
microbiological samples taken from the sinus tract and from the root canal
system contained bacteria. Seventy-one strains were detected in the
extraradicular lesions. Of the anaerobic species, Fusobacterium nucleatum (7
strains), Prevotella intemedia (4 strains) and P. oralis (4 strains) were
most frequently found. In the group of the facultative anaerobes
Streptococcus spp. were predominant. Ninety-four strains were isolated from
the root canal system of the 12 teeth. P. intermedia (6 strains), P. buccae
(5 strains), F. nucleatum (5 strains) and Lactobacillus plantarum (5
strains) were most common. In 9 cases, species present in the root canal
could be revealed in the extraradicular lesions. It was concluded that a
variety of microorganisms were capable of colonizing endodontically induced,
extraradicular lesions clinically characterized by sinus tracts.
Int Endod J. 2006 May;39(5):343-56.
Consequences of and strategies to deal with residual post-treatment root
Wu MK, Dummer PM, Wesselink PR.
Department of Cariology Endodontology Pedodontology, Academic Centre for
Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Bacterial sampling of prepared root canals is used to determine the presence
and character of the remaining microbiota. However, it is likely that
current sampling techniques only identify organisms in the main branches of
the root canal system whereas it is unlikely that they can sample areas
beyond the apical end-point of preparation and filling, or in lateral
canals, canal extensions, apical ramifications, isthmuses and within
dentinal tubules. Thus, it may be impossible by current techniques to
identify residual post-treatment root canal infection. In histologic
observations of root apices, bacteria have been found in inaccessible
inter-canal isthmuses and accessory canals often in the form of biofilms.
There is no in vivo evidence to support the assumption that these bacteria
can be entombed effectively in the canal system by the root filling and thus
be rendered harmless. As a consequence of this residual root infection,
post-treatment apical periodontitis, which may be radiographically
undetectable, may persist or develop as a defence mechanism to prevent the
systemic spread of bacteria and/or their byproducts to other sites of the
body. Histologic observation of root apices with surrounding bone removed
from either patients or human cadavers has demonstrated that post-treatment
apical periodontitis is associated with 50-90% of root filled human teeth.
Thus, if the objective of root canal treatment is to eliminate apical
periodontitis at a histological level, current treatment procedures are
inadequate. It is essential that our knowledge of the local and systemic
consequences of both residual post-treatment root infection and
post-treatment apical periodontitis be improved. The continued development
of treatments that can effectively eliminate root infection is therefore a
priority in clinical endodontic research. Post-treatment disease following
root canal treatment is most often associated with poor quality procedures
that do not remove intra-canal infection; this scenario can be corrected via
a nonsurgical approach. However, infection remaining in the inaccessible
apical areas, extraradicular infection including apically extruded dentine
debris with bacteria present in dentinal tubules, true radicular cysts, and
foreign body reactions require a surgical intervention.
J Endod. 2008 Mar;34(3):258-63. Epub 2007 Dec 21.
Treatment outcome in endodontics: the Toronto study--phase 4: initial
de Chevigny C, Dao TT, Basrani BR, Marquis V, Farzaneh M, Abitbol S,
Discipline of Endodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Outcome 4-6 years after initial treatment was assessed for Phase 4
(2000-2001) of the Toronto Study. Of 582 teeth treated, 430 were lost to
follow-up (99 discontinuers, 331 dropouts), 15 were extracted, and 137 (32%
recall minus 15 extracted teeth) were examined for outcome: healed (no
apical periodontitis, signs, symptoms) or diseased. When pooled with Phases
1-3, 439 of 510 teeth (86%) were healed. Logistic regression identified 2
significant (P < or = .05) preoperative outcome predictors: radiolucency
(odds ratio [OR], 2.86; confidence interval [CI], 1.56-5.24; healed: absent,
93%; present, 82%) and number of roots (OR, 2.53; CI, 1.25-5.13; healed:
single, 93%; multiple, 84%). In teeth with radiolucency, intraoperative
complications (OR, 2.27; CI, 1.05-4.89; healed: absent, 84%; present, 69%)
and root-filling technique (OR, 1.89; CI, 1.01-3.53; healed: lateral, 77%;
vertical, 87%) were additional outcome predictors. A better outcome was
suggested for teeth without radiolucency, with single roots, and without
mid-treatment complications. The predictive value of root-filling technique
in teeth with radiolucency requires validation from randomized controlled
Int Endod J. 2007 Dec;40(12):921-39. Epub 2007 Oct 10.
Outcome of primary root canal treatment: systematic review of the literature
- part 1. Effects of study characteristics on probability of success.
Ng YL, Mann V, Rahbaran S, Lewsey J, Gulabivala K.
Unit of Endodontology, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, University College
London, London, UK.
AIMS: The aims of this study were (i) to conduct a comprehensive systematic
review of the literature on the outcome of primary (initial or first time)
root canal treatment; (ii) to investigate the influence of some study
characteristics on the estimated pooled success rates.
METHODOLOGY: Longitudinal clinical studies investigating outcome of primary
root canal treatment, published up to the end of 2002, were identified
electronically (MEDLINE and Cochrane database 1966-2002 December, week 4).
Four journals (International Endodontic Journal, Journal of Endodontics,
Oral Surgery Oral Medicine Oral Pathology Endodontics Radiology and Dental
Traumatology & Endodontics), bibliographies of all relevant papers and
review articles were hand-searched. Three reviewers (Y-LN, SR and KG)
independently assessed, selected the studies based on specified inclusion
criteria, and extracted the data onto a pre-designed proforma. The study
inclusion criteria were: longitudinal clinical studies investigating root
canal treatment outcome; only primary root canal treatment carried out on
the teeth studied; sample size given; at least 6-month postoperative review;
success based on clinical and/or radiographic criteria (strict, absence of
apical radiolucency; loose, reduction in size of radiolucency); overall
success rate given or could be calculated from the raw data. The findings by
individual study were summarized and the pooled success rates by each
potential influencing factor were calculated for this part of the study.
RESULTS: Of the 119 articles identified, 63 studies published from 1922 to
2002, fulfilling the inclusion criteria were selected for the review: six
were randomized trials, seven were cohort studies and 48 were retrospective
studies. The reported mean success rates ranged from 31% to 96% based on
strict criteria or from 60% to 100% based on loose criteria, with
substantial heterogeneity in the estimates of pooled success rates. Apart
from the radiographic criteria of success, none of the other study
characteristics could explain this heterogeneity. Twenty-four factors
(patient and operative) had been investigated in various combinations in the
studies reviewed. The influence of preoperative pulpal and periapical status
of the teeth on treatment outcome were most frequently explored, but the
influence of treatment technique was poorly investigated.
CONCLUSIONS: The estimated weighted pooled success rates of treatments
completed at least 1 year prior to review, ranged between 68% and 85% when
strict criteria were used. The reported success rates had not improved over
the last four (or five) decades. The quality of evidence for treatment
factors affecting primary root canal treatment outcome is sub-optimal; there
was substantial variation in the study-designs. It would be desirable to
standardize aspects of study-design, data recording and presentation format
of outcome data in the much needed future outcome studies.
Int Endod J. 2008 Jan;41(1):6-31. Epub 2007 Oct 10.
Outcome of primary root canal treatment: systematic review of the literature
-- Part 2. Influence of clinical factors.
Ng YL, Mann V, Rahbaran S, Lewsey J, Gulabivala K.
Unit of Endodontology, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, University College
London, London, UK
AIMS: (i) To carry out meta-analyses to quantify the influence of the
clinical factors on the efficacy of primary root canal treatment and (ii) to
identify the best treatment protocol based on the current evidence.
METHODOLOGY: The evidence for the effect of each clinical factor on the
success rate (SR) of primary root canal treatment was gathered in three
different ways: (i) intuitive synthesis of reported findings from individual
studies; (ii) weighted pooled SR by each factor under investigation was
estimated using random-effect meta-analysis; (iii) weighted effect of the
factor under investigation on SR were estimated and expressed as odds ratio
for the dichotomous outcomes (success or failure) using fixed- and
random-effects meta-analysis. Statistical heterogeneity amongst the studies
was assessed by Cochran's (Q) test. Potential sources of statistical
heterogeneity were investigated by exploring clinical heterogeneity using
meta-regression models which included study characteristics in the
RESULTS: Out of the clinical factors investigated, pre-operative pulpal and
periapical status were most frequently investigated, whilst the
intra-operative factors were poorly studied in the 63 studies. Four factors
were found to have a significant effect on the primary root canal treatment
outcome, although the data heterogeneity was substantial, some of which
could be explained by some of the study characteristics.
CONCLUSIONS: Four conditions (pre-operative absence of periapical
radiolucency, root filling with no voids, root filling extending to 2 mm
within the radiographic apex and satisfactory coronal restoration) were
found to improve the outcome of primary root canal treatment significantly.
Root canal treatment should therefore aim at achieving and maintaining
access to apical anatomy during chemo-mechanical debridement, obturating the
canal with densely compacted material to the apical terminus without
extrusion into the apical tissues and preventing re-infection with a good
quality coronal restoration.
Eur Heart J. 1993 Dec;14 Suppl K:51-3.
Dental infections as a risk factor for acute myocardial infarction.
First Department of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.
The so-called classic risk factors of coronary heart disease (CHD) do not
explain all its clinical and epidemiological features. Recent evidence
suggests that certain infections, among them dental infections, are involved
in the pathogenesis of CHD. Case-control studies have revealed an
association between dental infections and acute myocardial infarction and
chronic coronary heart disease. A large epidemiological survey revealed
an association between missing teeth and CHD and a recent 14-year follow-up
of 9760 individuals showed that periodontitis is associated with an
increased risk of coronary heart disease. Preliminary results suggest
that the severity of dental infections correlates with the extent of
coronary atheromatosis. Individuals with severe dental infections also have
higher level of von Willebrand factor antigen, leukocytes and fibrinogen.
Streptococcus sanguis has been shown to aggregate human platelets in vitro.
The mechanism behind the association between dental infections and CHD could
be the effect of bacteria on the cells taking part in the pathogenesis of
atherosclerosis and arterial thrombosis.
J Dent Res. 2000 Feb;79(2):756-60.
Age, dental infections, and coronary heart disease.
Mattila KJ, Asikainen S, Wolf J, Jousimies-Somer H, Valtonen V, Nieminen
Dept of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.
Epidemiological and intervention studies have suggested that infections are
risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). Dental infections have
appeared as cardiovascular risk factors in cross-sectional and in follow-up
studies, and the association has been independent of the "classic" coronary
risk factors. This case-control study aimed at detailed assessment of the
dental pathology found in various CHD categories (including elderly
patients). Altogether, 85 patients with proven coronary heart disease and 53
random controls, matched for sex, age, geographic area, and socio-economic
status, were compared with regard to dental status, assessed blindly with
four separate scores, and to the "classic" coronary risk factors (seven of
the controls had CHD, and they were not included in the analyses). The
dental indices were higher among CHD patients than in the controls, but,
contrary to previous studies, the differences were not significant (between
the CHD patients and their matched controls or among the different CHD
categories). This result could not be explained by potential confounding
factors. The participants in the present study were older and had more often
undergone recent dental treatment in comparison with subjects in our earlier
studies. Age correlated with the severity of dental infections only in the
random controls but not in the coronary patients who, although young,
already had high dental scores. We believe that the higher age of the
participants in the present study is the most likely reason for the results.
Other possible explanations include an age-related selection bias among
older CHD patients, and the fact that those participating in studies like
this may have better general health and thus also less severe dental
infections. Thus, the role of dental infections as a coronary risk factor
varies according to the characteristics of the population studied.
J Endod. 2009 May;35(5):626-30.
Association between chronic dental infection and acute myocardial
Willershausen B, Kasaj A, Willershausen I, Zahorka D, Briseño B,
Blettner M, Genth-Zotz S, Münzel T.
Department of Operative Dentistry, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz,
INTRODUCTION: In patients with cardiovascular diseases several risk factors
such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and drinking habits, genetic
disposition, and chronic inflammation must be considered. The aim of this
study was to investigate whether there is a correlation between dental
origin infections and the presence of an acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
METHODS: A total of 125 patients who had experienced a myocardial infarction
and 125 healthy individuals were included in this study. The oral
examination was carried out following the consent of the ethics committee
and the National Board for Radiation Protection and included the number of
teeth, endodontically treated teeth, periodontal screening index (PSI),
clinical attachment level, and radiographic apical lesions (radiograph
examination). The medical examination included, among others, blood glucose
level, C-reactive protein (CRP) serum levels, and leukocyte number. RESULTS:
The study demonstrated that patients with AMI exhibited an unfavorable
dental state of health. After statistical adjustment for age, gender, and
smoking, they exhibited a significantly higher number of missing teeth (P =
.001), less teeth with root canal fillings (P = .0015), a higher number of
radiologic apical lesions (P = .001), and a higher PSI value (P = .001)
compared with individuals without myocardial infarction. The medical data
showed a nonsignificant correlation between CRP and the number of radiologic
apical lesions. CONCLUSIONS: This study presents evidence that patients
who have experienced myocardial infarction also exhibit an unfavorable
dental state of health in comparison to healthy patients and suggests an
association between chronic oral infections and myocardial infarction.
Int Endod J. 2002 Apr;35(4):366-71.
Invasion of vascular cells in vitro by Porphyromonas endodontalis.
Dorn BR, Harris LJ, Wujick CT, Vertucci FJ, Progulske-Fox A.
Center for Molecular Microbiology, Department of Oral Biology, College of
Dentistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.
AIM: The objective of this study was to determine whether laboratory strains
and clinical isolates of microorganisms associated with root canal
infections can invade primary cultures of cardiovascular cells. METHODOLOGY:
Quantitative levels of bacterial invasion of human coronary artery
endothelial cells (HCAEC) and coronary artery smooth muscle cells (CASMC)
were measured using a standard antibiotic protection assay. Transmission
electron microscopy was used to confirm and visualize internalization within
the vascular cells. RESULTS: Of the laboratory and clinical strains tested,
only P. endodontalis ATCC 35406 was invasive in an antibiotic protection
assay using HCAEC and CASMC. Invasion of P. endodontalis ATCC 35406 was
confirmed by transmission electron microscopy. DISCUSSION: Certain
microorganisms associated with endodontic infections are invasive. If
bacterial invasion of the vasculature contributes to the pathogenesis of
cardiovascular disease, then microorganisms in the pulp chamber represent
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