Smilemomma and anyone else who has thoughts/information about this subject, I've searched the archives and have found many posts touching on my concerns briefly, or asking similar questions to my own, but I really haven't found any direct answers to what I want to know, part of which is why do so many dentists consider invasive treatment root canal, extraction the only acceptable treatment for abcess (as opposed to making any necessary changes in dietary and hygene habits and waiting for the body to heal itself)?
I have read Smilemomma and other dentists saying in many ways that it "just has to be this way" but I haven't found anything that describes exactly what *physically* prevents an abcess from healing the way other bodily infections heal naturally on their own (perhaps with non-surgical changes in diet, hygene, etc.), and I'd like to know how much of what is said really is as absolute as it's stated and how much varies (even slightly) based on different approaches. I would also like to know where dentists get these facts and how the studies are done.
I have noticed that many medical studies are done with an underlying assumption that is not necessarily true (as in medicalized childbirth, where studies rarely factor in the effects of the monitoring, testing and medical treatments themselves). In the case of dentistry, the assumption could be that "dental patients" represent an accurate control group. I wonder, could it be that folks who don't use dentists or participate in studies but who are also well educated and well nourished, practicing good hygene etc. may be having different outcomes than those that appear in studies, therefore causing the study results to miss the benefits of a conscientious non-invasive approach?
Here is a little snippet of something from the archives that Smilemomma posted that can help me draw out the questions I want answers to, I've included my questions in brackets:
"If the tooth is gray it is surely dead. Dead means necrotic, and necrosis produces toxins [before this statement SM said that she has seen teeth take from 2 weeks to 40 years to abcess, then she said the above, so does that mean "necrosis" doesn't always produce toxins? I'm thinking in terms of children's teeth here where they might fall out before 40 years is up.] which exit the tooth the only way they can; out the end of the root of the tooth [do the toxins really never exit the tooth any other way, or has it just never been recorded as do anything different?]. This bacteria, pus, dead cells, etc eats a little crater in the jawbone at the end of the root [does it always eat a little crater in the jawbone, that or is this just a possibility?]. This crater (abcess) gradually enlarges as the bacteria reproduce, etc. It can eventually eat a hole through the bone, out the gum, and then it drains. (Yucky, I know. But people talk of "gum bubbles" all the time! EWWW!)" [Is the crater in itself a problem? Where does the "problem" enter in? I have heard that the "problem" is that the infection can spread from the abcess to other parts of the body, but I know that any infection in the body can spread and I want to know *how* much more likely this is to happen with an abcess than any other common bodily infection, like an ear infection. If abcess infection really is more prone to spreading, what is the exact physical reason?]
"Anyway, the only way to get rid of this infection is to drain it out and clean it up [You just described how the body naturally drains the infection, is it impossible for the body to also clean out/kill the bacteria on its own? Is it really less likely to happen without surgery than, say the natural healing of a sinus infection?], either by extracting the tooth and thereby draining it directly, or by opening a hole in the tooth and draining it through the tooth (root canal, but really in a child it's termed pulpectomy). This may be successful, but because of all the changes in the area (new tooth developing and erupting, etc), it may not. Then it will require extraction."
One big thing I am not clear on is what is the exact reason that dentists want to do a root canal or extraction? Is it impatience with the body's natural healing? Belief that the body cannot or does not heal itself in this case? If so based on what? Studies? if so what are the specifics of those studies? Might they be based on dentists' experiences with two extremes, either patients who have done nothing to promote natural healing and then walk into a dentist's office in extreme pain and illness, or patients who followed dentist's instructions explicitly and still ended up seriously ill from abcess complications? Are they ever based on patients who conscientiously chose to promote natural healing and practice good dental hygene and wait patiently and ended up seriously ill instead?
How can we as "patients" recognize the difference between dental treatments and practices that are based on logic and reason, and those that are based in tradition and incomplete "science"?
Thank you very much for any insight you can give. Warmly, Laurie