In 2013 I underwent a minor dental surgical procedure known as ‘cavitation surgery’. I was having pain in my lower left jaw and couldn’t figure out what was causing the pain. It felt like a nagging throb behind my last molar, where my wisdom tooth had been.
Maybe a little backstory would help…
Like many people here in the US and around the world, I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 18 because “that’s when you have wisdom teeth removed”, right?
What I didn’t know back then was that it’s rather common for the site where a wisdom tooth is removed to become infected and develop what is called a ‘cavitation’. While not recognized by mainstream dentistry (yet), cavitations are another lurking ‘dark corner’ of dentistry that many in the profession know exist but don’t want to admit.
You see, if mainstream dentistry officially recognizes cavitations as real problems, they would essentially be admitting guilt for causing them based on the practices they teach for wisdom tooth extractions. That said, the well respected Weston A Price Foundation has publicly recognized the risks of cavitations.
A cavitation is an infection in the jaw bone where a tooth was extracted. In the dental literature, this is called ONJ, osteonecrosis of the jaw, and it’s a very real issue.
Dr Hal Huggins shared with us during an interview before his death that almost all wisdom teeth extraction sites cavitate. In other words, the site of the extraction becomes infected, then heals over with gum tissue. This infected tissue in the jaw bone continues to rot (yes, rot) over the years.
As you can imagine, the results of cavitations aren’t good.
Just looking ‘locally’, cavitations can cause the jaw bone to rot away. This lessening of the jaw bone is closely related to advanced gum disease, tooth loss, tooth decay, and chronic sinus issues, just to name a few.
The Whole-Body Risks of Cavitations
When we look broader at the impact of jaw infections throughout the whole body, the result of cavitations is similar to what can happen with root canals, where the dead tooth becomes an ‘enemy inside the gates’ of our bodies that can dump toxins into the bloodstream.
We believe that in the coming years, more and more of us will awaken to realize the profound impact that these small, chronic infections play in taxing our immune system and wearing down our adrenal function as the body continuously has to mount an immune response to the pathogenic microbes these diseased tissues harbor. (What we mean by ‘small infections’ is they aren’t going to kill us tomorrow, but they have a chronic draining impact over time.)
Chronic infections like cavitations are a major contributor to chronic systemic inflammation in our global culture. As we’ve discussed in other articles, chronic inflammation is never a healthy situation. In fact, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the only cause of disease is stagnation. Inflammation is the western medical way to say ‘stagnation’.
In fact, some experts consider chronic infections in the mouth to be the cause of many common diseases these days.
Dr Josef Issels, perhaps the most famous integrated oncologist (whole-body cancer doctor) of the last century once said, “97% of all cancers have a causal relationship with the mouth, teeth, jaw and tonsils.” If you ponder that quote for a moment, it’s a rather heavy statement suggesting that almost all cancers are actually caused by problems in the mouth first.
Thankfully, I felt something brewing…
When I finally had the cavitation surgery, the dentist confirmed that indeed the lower left wisdom tooth site oozed a green fluid with a very foul smell. (sorry for the graphics, but it’s true) Clearly, this was an infected zone buried under the gum tissue, in my jawbone!
So, what happened?
The dentist cleaned out the site with what is called a burr drill to remove any infected bone and gum tissue, then thoroughly cleansed the site with ozonated water several times to make sure that no infection remained prior to closing up the site. Our understanding of this procedure is to simply remove the infected tissue, cleanse the site well, and close it up.
The key to healing…
Like so many problems, once we remove the insult, the body does what it’s designed to do, it heals itself.
Within a few days, my jaw felt pain-free and has stayed so ever since. Interestingly, even right after the minor surgery, my jaw already felt better because the pressure was no longer throbbing (even though the discomfort of the recent surgery was present). The infection had been removed.
Do you have to have surgery to address cavitations?
No. We believe that chronic infections like this can be addressed by systemic immune support. It’s not necessary to have cavitation surgery. However, if you have a sense that an infection has been ‘cooking’ your system for many years, it’s definitely in your best interest to get some help to determine if an infection really is present.
How to identify if you have a chronic infection brewing in your mouth…
We recently wrote an article about a fairly new use for an emerging diagnostic technology called thermography. Thermography, also called thermal imaging, has been most notably used as an early screening tool for breast cancer.
However, this emerging technology also offers substantial benefit in identifying chronic heat patterns in the face. (Chronic heat is highly suggestive of chronic inflammation and infection.) While the focus of the article is on root canals, since cavitations are essentially the same chronic infection, there’s definitely common ground.
Here’s the article titled, “Is Thermal Imaging the Solution to Screen for Problem Root Canals”
How to find a dentist to help address a potential cavitation…
The most important tool a dentist can use to help properly cleanse the cavitation site is ozone. You can find a list of dentists who use ozone in their practice in our article detailing how to find a qualified dentist to help you.
You might also find benefit from our article on the 3 questions to ask your dentist about root canals, as this covers lots of similar issues as cavitations.
You can also download our FREE eBook, the OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry, where we propose several questions you can ask your dental team to determine whether they are ideally suited to assist you and your family to optimal oral (and whole body) health.
Subjects in this free eBook include: proper procedures to safely remove mercury fillings, questions about root canals, crowns and bridges, and a special chapter on children’s oral health including sealants. Download the OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry here.
Last, here’s a link to our meridian tooth chart, which is a powerful tool to help understand how each tooth is linked to various internal organs and body parts. A few minutes on this interactive chart can be very eye opening to help put the pieces of the puzzle together. (Ironically, on the meridian tooth chart, the wisdom teeth relate to the heart. Could having wisdom teeth removed be a contributing aspect to the risk of heart disease?)
In the end, we don’t know what we don’t know. We hope this article has helped you understand a bit more about the real but not often-discussed problem with having wisdom teeth removed.
In a future article, we will detail more of the pros and cons on the hotly debated subject of whether to have wisdom teeth removed or not…
Until next time, may your bright, healthy smile bless your life and the lives of those around you in many ways today!
Helpful, Related Resources:
The OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry [FREE eBook]
Weston A Price Foundation Dental Cavitation Surgery [article]
Is Thermal Imaging the Solution to Screen for Problem Root Canals? [article]
How to Find a Qualified Dentist to Help You [article]
3 Questions to Ask Your Dentist About Root Canals [article]
OraWellness Meridian Tooth Chart [interactive chart]
Is it Really Wise to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed? [article]