Root Cause Netflix Documentary Review

Root Cause Netflix Documentary Review

Root Cause is the Netflix documentary stirring up root canal concerns

I had to write this Root Cause review because root canals loom big in my life. I’ve had six root canals in five teeth, I still have three in situ. Their origins are, without exception, memorably traumatic, but their current status in my body is relatively benign.

Avoiding what would have been my 7th root canal by changing my diet seemed like a miracle that opened my eyes to the wonderful and wacky world of alternative oral health (or alt-oral as I like to call it).

In the seven years since healing that root naturally, I have become very familiar with the experts and arguments presented in the recently released Netflix documentary Root Cause.

Books by several Root Cause featured experts are on my shelves, but I don’t agree with everything they say. Particularly when their tone veers into fear-mongering, exaggerated extremes and conspiracy theories. Theories which aren’t part of the documentary, but are easy to find in most alt-oral discussions of root canals.

On one hand, it’s exciting to see the root canal debate enter mainstream awareness. Root canals are problematic and the dental profession’s excessive use of the procedure needs to be challenged, particularly when cavities or abscesses are not present.

The flip side to this is the manipulative way that director, Frazier Bailey, presents a mixture of facts, opinion and distortions lacks nuance. These very qualities are what make Root Cause so slick and watchable actually undermine the credibility of its central argument, that root canals can cause harm. And don’t even get me started on the film’s objectification of women – I’ll save that discussion until the end of this review.

Root Cause Netflix Documentary Review

Watch ‘Root Cause’ until the end

The best part of Root Cause is the second half, where some of the more sensible and balanced information and practical advice is presented. Although the ‘sexy dental hygienist’ trope was quite unnecessary.

My highlight was Dawn Ewing and Mark Briener‘s explanations of how every tooth sits on two or more meridians, which is the main mechanism for the whole body health impacts of root canals. This is incredibly useful information to apply to any oral health problem, not just root canals. I was thrilled to see it explained clearly in a mainstream context.

Almost as an aside towards the end, the Netflix documentary mentioned that everyone processes root canals differently. Some people are much more susceptible than others to being affected by toxic root canals.

Let me repeat that, because it wasn’t emphasized enough in Root Cause: not everyone gets sick from root canals.

The dangers of root canals which are explored in such great depth were eventually put into the context of the toxic overload that everyone of us is subjected to. Sustained, cumulative and insidious exposure to environmental toxins, toxic emotions, EMF (electro-magnetic frequencies including wifi), pathogens and of course junk food, overload the body which is already burdened with a root canal.

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Recoiling in fear

By half way through the Root Cause documentary, my cortisol was so elevated by the graphic, gruesome root canal footage paired with a barrage of cancer statistics. So much so that it was hard to actually hear those quiet voices of reason at the end.

Root Cause uses horror genre film-making techniques (e.g. structure, filters and music) to manipulate our emotions.The sunshine and humour of the first act, contrasted with the dark intensity of main act, are all very effectively scary and disempowering.

Unfortunately fear and powerlessness, along with anger and grief, are toxic emotions which may actually exacerbate the impact of root canals on our health.

Many Netflix viewers are urgently seeking ways to remove their root canals safely because it’s almost impossible to watch and not feel scared. Unless you reject everything Root Cause says.

There’s plenty of dental professionals (a majority) who are using Root Cause’s dodgy statistics and misquotes to dismiss the whole argument about root canal risks. Mainstream dentists are publishing mocking reviews and associations of dental professionals worldwide are lobbying Netflix to take it down on the basis of poor science. Update: it appears that Netflix has now taken down Root Cause*, though it’s still available on Amazon.

And that’s the real problem, because important information is half-hidden in amongst the dramatic license of Root Cause. Root canals are to frequently recommended with little regard to the risks they may carry for some people.

Balance and tolerance

The Root Cause documentary didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know from seven years of research into root canals. I was already familiar with many of the experts that were selectively quoted. Having read widely and in-depth enabled me to put the documentary’s messages in context that many viewers lacking background knowledge would miss.

Root canals can contribute to serious health problems for some people. Most root canals contain bacteria, and along with cavitations, may be a contributing factor with some cases of chronic degenerative and/or autoimmune conditions.

However, everybody is different. We all have a different ability to tolerate a root canal. 

Most people will not develop heart disease, cancer or chronic fatigue from their root canal. But for some people, removing the root canal may help you to recover your health.

Many people are able to tolerate a root canal without health problems for many years. Comparing a root canaled tooth to a toe with gangrene that must be amputated is inaccurate and unhelpful.

Not every case of breast cancer can be blamed on a root canal. The commonly quoted statistic that 90-something percent of breast cancer patients have a root canal on the same side cannot be traced to any published research. Even where a cancer patient does have an infected root canal, it not necessarily the cause.

Review of Netflix Documentary Root Cause

A broader holistic context

I’m a holistic oral health coach. When clients come to me with concerns about their root canal we also take into consideration the non-physical and energetic impacts of getting, removing or keeping it.

In addition to oral and whole body health impacts, we may explore:

  • family history
  • emotional issues
  • dental trauma,
  • social/professional consequences of extracting a tooth
  • the cost and accessibility of the procedure.

Root Cause follows the story of the director, Frazier Bailey. A white Australian man with the privilege of trying dozens of alternative therapies in his search for a cure to his mysterious malaise (the film includes a montage which seems to cover every new age modality- in mocking rhyme).

Once convinced that his root canal is behind his symptoms there seems to be no practical obstacles to getting it removed. Bailey never mentions the cost, or any difficulty in finding a co-operative dentist.

A safe removal and replacement of a single root canal can cost $10,000 and it’s common to need multiple appointments over 3-6 months. The removal process can also include:

  • the preliminary scan
  • tooth extraction
  • ozone cleaning of the jaw
  • rebuilding the jaw bone (if needed), and
  • installing an implant 3-6 months later.

That’s if you can find a dentist who will do it!

Not many dentists are willing to do this kind of procedure without evidence the the root canal has failed, so it’s not unusual to have to travel, sometimes internationally, if you are determined to have your root canal tooth extracted.

Removing a root canal safely is not an easily accessible option for many people, and this documentary has left them feeling scared for the root canals they have little choice but to keep.

There are holistic strategies, including herbs, homeopathics and energy healing that can help to mitigate the physical and metaphyscial impacts of root canals, so that the body can tolerate them well.

In conclusion

Admittedly, Root Cause set my teeth on edge from the very beginning with its sexist montage of women in bikinis. I tried to put aside my objections to the objectification of women’s bodies that cropped up all too often throughout the film… because what does the gratuitous male gaze have to do with root canals?  

I squirmed to see another condescending montage, as the main character rhymed his way through alternative therapies with no regard to the cultural context from which many of modalities have been extracted… because all those therapies weren’t the point of the documentary either.

Nonetheless, I kept watching, despite my discomfort with Root Canal‘s tone, because I want to know why so many people have suddenly started requesting my Root Canal Decision Checklist. This checklist is a free resource available on my website that didn’t get much attention until Root Cause was released on Netflix.

But in fact, the casual sexism and cultural insensitivity of Root Cause are completely aligned with its fear-mongering central message presented through a lens of privilege.

Mainstream dentist’s patronising and negative Root Cause reviews find plenty of material in the film that is deserving of valid criticism. So by itself the documentary is unlikely to sway any dental professionals currently committed to root canals.

The only way that the dental industry is ever going to look critically at the consequences of root canals is if a sufficient mass of their customers expect their concerns to be taken seriously.

Thanks to Netflix, mainstream dental practices are experiencing an increased number of patients refusing root canals, requesting removals and ultimately seeking more sympathetic providers.

Root Cause, for all it’s many flaws, is provoking a new wave of consumer demand that dentistry continues to dismiss at its own peril.

___________________________________

*Update: On the day I published this post, Root Cause was suddenly removed from Netflix. It was unexpected; Root Cause was not included in Vulture’s list of 42 movies planned to be removed from Netflix in February 2019. As yet, there is no explanation for this removal. Why did Netflix take down Root Cause? Was it responding to pressure from dental associations?

 

Has a dentist told you that your cavities or receding gums are your fault because you are drinking too much Coke, you don’t floss enough or you need to stop breastfeeding your baby? And you know that isn’t true!

I’m not going to blame you or shame you.
The underlying causes of your oral health issues are not your fault!

Nature or nurture, ancestry or environment, free will or systemic oppression, unconscious emotions or the degraded food system

These are the factors that make your teeth and gums vulnerable to disease.

Even though your tooth decay and gum disease is not your fault, it is within your power to change.

You can turn your oral health around with natural strategies and healthy habits.

Raw milk alternatives

Raw milk alternatives

Raw milk and Vitamin K2

This article offers some effective raw milk alternatives for integrating the essential teeth healing nutrient Vitamin K2 into your diet.

It doesn’t take very long when looking into nutritional teeth healing advice before you find out that raw milk is one of the most common and valuable recommendations for healing teeth and gums. 

However, raw milk isn’t an option for people can’t, or choose not to, eat any dairy products and even many people who are willing to consume dairy have difficulty accessing raw milk because of strict laws banning its sale.

My first raw milk alternative suggestions are for people who are willing to eat dairy but can’t access raw milk reliably.

The rest of my raw milk alternatives are completely vegan, for people who can’t or won’t eat any dairy products, whether raw or not.

Vitamin K2

All good quality dairy milks contain teeth-nourishing calcium but only unpasturized, raw, milk contains Vitamin K2 (aka Activator X) because K2 is destroying in the pasteurization process.  Vitamin K2’s presence in milk helps your body to utilize milk’s calcium content.

Vitamin K2 is found only in some animal products and a few fermented foods, all of which are rare in Western diets today.

One of it’s functions is to activate proteins that regulate calcium deposits in your body to build strong teeth and bones and prevent calcification in blood vessels and your kidneys.  It also helps to prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.

Young bodies are much better than older bodies at generating Vitamin K2 in the gut, or converting it from Vitamin K1 plant foods. I think this is probably because young bones and teeth are growing so fast that they need more Vitamin K2, so growing bodies are programmed to prioritise the nutrient. 

Broad spectrum antibiotics are believed to contribute to Vitamin K2 deficiency which I think explains why exposure to antibiotics in the womb or after birth is sometimes associated with severe decay in babies’ teeth.  

 

Raw milk alternatives: dairy

Raw milk is very inaccessible, and even illegal, in many countries including most of the United States and Australia. For example in New Zealand, where I live raw milk can only be sold directly from the ‘farm gate’ so it’s expensive and complicated for urban dwellers to buy. Even in countries where raw milk is not legally restricted, it’s usually rare and expensive because it is a bespoke product with a short shelf life and low demand.

If you are willing to eat dairy but you don’t have access to raw milk, I recommend milk kefir.

Milk kefir mimics raw milk

Milk kefir is a tangy, fermented milk product similar to yogurt but with a unique SCOBY* that mimics the nutritional profile of raw milk, essentially reintroducing the Vitamin K2 lost in pastueurization. 

*A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast that causes fermentation

If you buy ready-made kefir,  make sure that it’s organic, free from additives and unpasturized after fermentation.

Try making your own milk kefir using milk kefir grains (the SCOBY) with the best quality, full cream, grass fed, pasturized milk you can find, (preferably organic).

I don’t recommend using the powdered starter culture for milk kefir which contains fewer probiotics.

Milk kefir grains produce more Vitamin K2 and can be reused indefinitely, unlike the powder. You can find milk kefir grains through whole foods communities, buy it online, or in your local health food store, where hopefully you can buy good quality milk as well.

More Vitamin K2!

  • If you have access to raw milk, you can turn it into milk kefir and boost the intrinsic level of Vitamin K2 even more.
  • For meat eaters: other sources of Vitamin K2 are liver (especially cod liver oil) and other organ meats; and shellfish.
  • Genuinely free-range, grass-fed, poultry produce egg yolks are high in Vitamin K2.

But what if you don’t eat any animal products?

 

Raw milk alternatives: plant-based

Teeth nourishing Vitamin K2 can be a challenge to integrate into a plant-based diet.

Vitamin K1 is found in dark leafy green vegetables such as parsley, collards and kale. Vitamin K1 is not known to support teeth health in the same way as Vitamin K2. 

When we are young, our bodies easily converts Vitamin K1 into some of the Vitamin K2 we need but conversion becomes less efficient as we age. But our body’s demand for Vitamin K2 is much greater while we are still growing. 

Growing bodies, and older bodies, on a plant-based diet need to eat additional sources of Vtiamin K2 found in some fermented foods.

Teeth healing natto

Natto has the highest levels of Vitamin K2 in a plant based food.  Natto is a Japanese fermented vegetable that has a very strong flavor which challenges many Western palates.  Some people describe it as a combination of marmite and old socks, while other people compare it to Camembert or Brie cheese.  It should be eaten in small quantities and tastes best when seasoned, for example with salt, sesame oil, soy sauce or mustard.

Many Vitamin K2 supplements (aff) are made from natto so if you can’t access natto (or can’t stand the flavor) then supplements are a good idea.

Coconut Milk Kefir for teeth

Many people find a more palatable source of plant based Vitamin K2 is coconut milk kefir. The coconut milk should be unpasturized and of high quality, the SCOBY must be milk kefir grains.

Coconut milk kefir doesn’t have as much Vitamin K2 as dairy milk kefir, but it’s the second best plant-based source after natto. Every little bit will help to nourish your teeth towards better health.

Other plant based sources of Vitamin K2

There are small proportions of Vitamin K2 in other kinds of fermented foods like miso, kimchi and sauerkraut. I recommend eating fermented foods every day. 

There is a tiny amount of Vitamin K2 in unpasturized kombucha. However, the phosphorus in kombucha bubbles binds to the calcium in your teeth and weakens the enamel. It’s a poor tradeoff for the small quantity of K2 it contains. (All bubbly drinks contain phosphorus and can damage teeth in this way).

 

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Cure Tooth Decay with Cloud Bread

Cure Tooth Decay with Cloud Bread

How does Cloud Bread cure tooth decay?

(Scroll down for the recipe)

Cloud Bread is a godsend for people seeking to find out how to avoid phytic acid in their diet.  In Cure Tooth Decay, the foundational book about nutrition and teeth health, Ramiel Nagel recommends avoiding phytic acid.  Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in grains, nuts, seeds and legumes that undermines the body’s ability to digest and utilize certain nutrients needed to remineralize teeth and regenerate gum tissues and bones  

Most people, when trying to avoid phytic acid, find that bread is one of the most difficult foods to do without. Genuine long ferment sourdough has less phytic acid than bread made with yeast, but it still has some.  Gluten-free bread still has plenty of phytic acid, because it is not related to gluten at all.

And so Cloud Bread is a gift for teeth healing because it is made with absolutely no grains, nuts, seeds or legumes.  In fact, it’s ingredients actually support your teeth health. Cloud bread is high in protein from whole eggs and cream cheese. Cream cheese, even when pasteurized, delivers some valuable nutrients for your teeth including Vitamin A and trace minerals. It also contains the valuable pairing of calcium and phosphorus (which are particularly vulnerable to phytic acid).

Versatile Cloud Bread

Cloud Bread appeals to children and adults alike.  It fills the bread-sized gap in your diet, but also can take the place of cake, cookies, crackers, pizza bases or pancakes. You can even use the batter to make waffles.

Cloud Bread is as soft and bland as Wonder Bread, yet it is filling, nutritious and sturdy enough to contain a burger or sandwich. You can butter it without breakage (and butter is great for teeth). 

It takes only 3 ingredients, and the recipe is simple- but requires care.  You need an electric beater (or really strong arms to whisk the egg whites stiff). And you have to be careful not to let a drop of yolk contaminate the egg whites. The cream of tartar helps the white to quickly achieve stiff peaks and hold their foamy volume. You need a light hand to fold the yolk mixture into the egg whites so you don’t lose any lightness.

You can sweeten the mixture before you bake it, or dress up plain Cloud Bread with fruit and cream. You can make a rich and savory snack with herbs and cheese stirred in, or sprinkled on top. Basically, the variations are only limited by your imagination!

 

Cloud Bread Recipe

Ingredients

3 Eggs
3 Tablespoons cream cheese (room temp) or mayonnaise to make it dairy-free
1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Optional
Make it sweet with a little stevia, honey or maple syrup to taste
Make it savory with fresh herbs, garlic, turmeric or Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 300F/150C
Line a baking tray with baking paper’
Separate egg whites and yolks- being careful to avoid any yolk in the the whites
​​Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer until stiff peaks form​.

Mix cream cheese with egg yolks until no cheese is visible. Add any flavorings.
​Gently fold yolk mixture in to egg whites
Spoon on to tray to form 9 small buns or whatever shape you like e.g. big slab for a pizza base or wrap.

Bake for 20-30 minutes – the middle will spring back when it’s ready.​

Cover and store in the refrigerator.Variation: Use the mixture as pancake batter.

Share your Cloud Bread photos on Instagram with #cloudbread and #holistictoothfairy

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Gentle toothbrushing for healthier gums

Gentle toothbrushing for healthier gums

Healthier gums need gentle brushing

In this video I demonstrate how to brush your teeth correctly so that you can clean the enamel thoroughly, without hurting your gums in the process.

Incorrect toothbrushing technique can contribute to receding gums, bleeding gums and even gum disease so brushing the right way does more than just clean your teeth, it protects your gums.

Choosing a toothbrush

Electric or manual, the most important quality is the softness of the bristles. Always choose the softest bristles you can find.

An electric toothbrush will exaggerate the risks of poor brushing technique so I recommend practicing correct brushing with a manual toothbrush before you start using an electric.

Electric brushes are especially valuable for people who have trouble keeping their wisdom or back molars clean.  They are also helpful for people who don’t have enough strength or stamina to brush thoroughly for 2-3 minutes at a time.

 

 

No white knuckles

Are you squeezing the toothbrush handle in a death grip? A tight, white knuckled grip at the base of the handle means you are probably brushing too hard!

Practice holding the brush lightly between your finger tips, near the bristles. This way you have more fine motor control. 

Don’t scrub

Gently polish each surface of each tooth individually with a gentle flicking motion, moving the bristles away from the gums.

One of the ways that gums are attached to the teeth is with microscopic fibres that can break really easily, so never push the tips of the bristles into the gum line.

To clean the enamel closest to the gums place the sides of the bristles against the gum line, so the tips of the bristles are touching the enamel. Then just wriggle the bristles in place. It will be easier to understand if you watch the video!

Take your time

If this is a new way of brushing for you, take as long as you need to retrain your muscle memory to the new grip and motions of gentle brushing. Even once you have the hang of it, toothbrushing thoroughly and gently should take you at least 2-3 minutes each time.

Rather than resenting and rushing through your oral hygiene every day, treat it as a mini moving meditation where you have a chance to lavish yourself with loving attention.

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My 5 Best Websites for Natural Oral Health

My 5 Best Websites for Natural Oral Health

As soon as you start searching for information about oral health on the internet you can quickly become overwhelmed by thousands of choices, most of them fronting small dental practices or large toothpaste manufacturers. Almost all offer the same tired mainstream advice about brushing with fluoride as the best form of prevention.

When you narrow your search down to natural teeth care,  it’s a bit like entering a parallel universe dominated by alt-oral clickbait. You have to navigate through minefields of conspiracy theory and wacky home remedies to find the nuggets of gold.

I try to make sure that the Holistic Tooth Fairy is one of the best websites for natural oral health. If you like this site, you might also like this personal selection of my five favorites:

Healing Teeth Naturally is comprehensive in covering natural, holistic and conventional approaches to oral health in a well-organised manner. The site is all text, few images (except of crystals) and no videos. It’s published in English but translations of some pages are available in German, French, Greek,  Spanish, Slovene and Italian. Ulla Schmid describes her site as ‘humanitarian’  and she isn’t selling anything.

Hippy friendly. 

Ora Wellness offers tons of excellent information about natural oral health, and lots of useful but low-fi videos. Will and Susan Revak have developed their own range of natural products for teeth and gums, which I haven’t tried because shipping from Hawai’i to New Zealand is stupidly expensive.

Family friendly.

Wellness Mama is a natural living website with a smattering of very good blog posts about oral health, including home made toothpaste and toothpowder recipes. Katie Wells is a solid researcher backed by a team, and she has built a substantial business with her natural living blog, books and podcast (while home schooling six children). There’s plenty of valuable free content grounded in her genuine passion for natural teeth healing, just sometimes it’s buried in a mountain of affiliate promotions and advertising.

DIY friendly.

 

Cure Tooth Decay is the website of the book of the same name (which I reviewed here). The site covers a lot of the same material as the book and is easier to search, though still heavy reading. This website was my first experience of alt-oral, and even before I read the book I was able to prevent a root canal by following the dietary advice I found on the site. The book’s author, Ramiel Nagel, sadly passed away last year, yet I find it slightly creepy that his online bio hasn’t changed since he was alive. 

Carnivore friendly.

 

Any dentist can call themselves ‘holistic’ even if their practice is entirely conventional. Because it’s a coveted search term with no regulation, finding a holistic dentist you can trust can be tricky. When you are searching for a local dentist who is truly holistic, try comparing their website to Evolve Dental.  Not many dentists have a blog as good as Evolve’s but if their services and philosophy are similar (e.g. safe amalgam removal and a dietary approach to prevention), then they are probably genuinely holistic. 

‘Looking for a holistic dentist’ friendly

 

Optimize your oral hygiene habit e-book

Tailor your daily teeth cleaning routine into a FUN FRESH EFFECTIVE
ritual that really helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Usually priced $8AUD, get it FREE for a limited time!

Optimize Your Oral Hygiene Habit E-Book

I take your privacy seriously. No spam. See Privacy Policy

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