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.

Root Canal Decision Checklist

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10 Questions to consider before getting or removing a root canal. 

Root Canal Decisions Checklist

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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.

Are your teeth trying to tell you something that you can’t quite make sense of?

In this free live Masterclass you’ll learn how to:

  • How to tell the difference between oral health symptoms and the underlying causes
  • Understand the metaphysical meanings of your teeth and gum issues
  • Practice a simple way to tune into your teeth that you can use any time

Removing Root Canals

Removing Root Canals

How long can a root canal last?

In Part 1 of this two part article about root canals, I told the story of my first, traumatic, root canal on a front tooth more than thirty years ago.

I still have that root canal right in the front of my mouth. Over the years it gradually became discolored. I called it my grey tooth and would try to hide it in photos.

It felt like the most visible marker of my bad teeth I could feel it growing weaker and tried to avoid biting into crunchy food on that side.

Then, about 8 years ago, it snapped in half on a cookie. Now my grey tooth was a blackened stump hovering over a gap.

It wasn’t painful, it wasn’t dangerous, but the shame was overpowering. To my mind, nothing screamed ‘desperately poor’ like a missing front tooth.

As soon as I could get to a dentist, I got a crown which involved inserting a post through the stump roots, into the gum, crowned to match the rest of my teeth.

Good news: no more grey tooth. Bad news: the crown was even more fragile than the dead tooth and snapped off within a few months, leaving me with a blackened stump/steel post/gap in the middle of my mouth, in the middle of a job search.

I had to find a new dentist and borrow money to pay for another crown. With the new crown I avoided biting cookies, carrots and apples. But within months it had broken on a piece of toast.

I asked for the replacement crown to be made shorter for better stability. It has only needed to be replaced once in seven years. I don’t mind the short tooth, even though gives me a lisp.

Root canals and your health

There is a growing awareness of how a root canal can affect one’s general health due to toxification of bacteria in the tiny tubules of the roots. This can lead to inflammation in the mouth or elsewhere in the body, especially along the meridians (microscopic energetic channels) that connect each tooth to organs, sinuses, sense organs, vertebrae, muscles, tissues, joints and glands.

Root canals have been implicated in the onset of degenerative diseases such as arthritis, heart valve problems, breast cancer, gall bladder disease, eczema, cystitis, colitis, migraines, sinusitis, hypertension coronary artery disease and thyroid disease.

Many people have found that debilitating symptoms such as problems with digestion, fatigue, headaches or skin, that couldn’t be diagnosed or cured conventionally actually disappeared when they had a root canaled tooth removed.

There is a contentious debate between dentists who unquestioningly advocate doing root canals to ‘save the tooth’ and those who believe all root canals are toxic and must be removed for safety. On one side they compare a toxic root canal to an infection under your fingernail to treat with antibiotics, and other side they compare it to a gangrenous toe that must be amputated.

I believe that both and neither argument is correct, because some of us are more resilient and able to tolerate a root canal, and its potential toxicity, better than others. This resilience can change over time and in response to different circumstances.

Should you remove your root canal?

Many people can tolerate a root canal well and it is possible to live for decades without a root canal causing problems. 

My first root canal is now over 30 years old and of the five more I have had done since, two remain in my mouth.  My overall health is pretty good but I know that the longer a root canal is in place, the more one is at risk.

Symptoms of an autoimmune condition or degenerative disease would certainly make me question whether I should remove one or more of my root canals.

However, I work with a kinesiologist who monitors the level of toxicity in the root canal and any adverse affects through out the body, especially on associated meridians. I’m confident that I am managing the risk with a healthy lifestyle and close monitoring.

I’ve created a checklist of ten questions to help monitor the stability and potential impact of a root canal on general health, which you can download now.

This is my checklist of questions to ask both before getting a new root canal and when considering removing one. Most of the questions are the same in both situations, and the checklist includes a separate discussion for how to interpret your answers when considering a removal.

Root Canal Decision Checklist

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10 Questions to consider before getting or removing a root canal. 

Root Canal Decisions Checklist

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Assessing your root canal

If, like me, you have root canaled teeth in your mouth right now, what should you do?

Some professionals will advise removal in every case.

However, many people can cope with one for years, or at least tolerate the consequences of root canal toxicity for years.

The first question to ask about your existing root canal is whether you have symptoms that suggest toxic influences from the root canal.

If you have a degenerative disease or symptoms in related body parts for that tooth, there is a reasonable likelihood of a root canal connection.

Conventional medical tests will probably not pick up whether the tooth is connected, but alternative tests such as Applied Kineseology or AEV (Electro-acupuncture) or consulting with a Medical Intuitive or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner may help give you some guidance.

If there are no obvious symptoms, but you are concerned about future risks, I recommend going through the Root Canal Questions Checklist for a holistic perspective on your options.  Maintaining a healthy, low stress lifestyle and monitoring your health closely can help you to manage the risks of living with a root canal. 

On the other hand, if your root canal seems to be connected to serious health problems in the rest of your body, removing the tooth may alleviate your symptoms or may even cure the disease.

Extracting a root canal

Removing an existing root canal means extracting the tooth.

Extraction carries it’s own risks which are increased when the underlying problem that led to the root canal procedure and/or contributed to it’s intolerable toxicity has not been addressed.

If jaw tension, poor nutrition, poor hygiene or emotional issues triggered the infection or decay that led to your root canal, those same issues may also make you more vulnerable to a ‘failed root canal’, may provoke disease elsewhere along your meridians, may lead to cavitation after an extraction or an implant being rejected by the body.

Cavitation is an infection in the jaw bone which can gradually erode bone density and lead to inflammation in the mouth and elsewhere in the body especially those parts connected to the tooth’s meridians. Cavitation (which is a risk associated with all types of extractions) can take years to develop noticeable symptoms.

Watch this space

Eventually extractions (of any kind) may lead to bone loss, misaligned teeth, and perhaps issues with the opposing teeth as well (the risk is higher if the gap is left unfilled).

You will have to choose between an implant, a partial (false tooth) or leaving a gap. 

None of these is an ideal option and for many people losing a tooth is a major barrier to choosing to remove a root canal tooth, especially if there are no obvious symptoms of toxicity.

Furthermore, few conventional dentists seem willing to remove an apparently healthy (at least by conventional dental standards) root canaled tooth.  There are actually very few dentists worldwide who actively encourage the removal of root canals (they generally prefer to do over the root canal – do overs of failed root canals account for two of my six root canal procedures).

Working with a root canal removal specialist can cost $10,000* for multiple visits to prepare for the extraction, laser clean after extraction to prevent cavitation and eventually filling the gap with an implant (*this kind of service seems to cost about the same in both USD and AUD).

Living well with your root canal

For many people, removing a root canal is not affordable, accessible or perhaps even desirable.

Once you have a root canal in your mouth there is no ideal outcome, so you need to feel confident that you are making the best decision for your unique needs and circumstances (recognising this may change over time). 

If the best decision right now is to keep your root canal in place, at least until you can find or afford a dentist to remove it safely and replace it appropriately, what’s next?

The same strategies that may heal and prevent decay in your living teeth are the foundation for tolerating a root canal, even if there is toxicity.

Nourishing food, herbs and supplements increase your body’s resilience and help your elimination organs to deal with root canal toxins effectively.

Relaxing the jaw enables your innate bodily systems designed to flush out toxins to function better.

Safe and effective oral hygiene habits help keep the oral cavity healthy to avoid provoking more toxicity in the root canal.

Perhaps most importantly though, working energetically with your meridians (and the rest of your energetic body) may help you to tolerate and perhaps even to heal a toxic root canal.  Some of the modalities that work energetically with meridians include kinesiology, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and the kind of intuitive healing that I practice with my clients.

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Are your teeth trying to tell you something that you can’t quite make sense of?

In this free live Masterclass you’ll learn how to:

  • How to tell the difference between oral health symptoms and the underlying causes
  • Understand the metaphysical meanings of your teeth and gum issues
  • Practice a simple way to tune into your teeth that you can use any time

Getting Root Canals

Getting Root Canals

Should I get a root canal?

These days, getting root canals is a controversial dental procedure but thirty years ago when I had my first root canal done at age 17, I didn’t question what was being done to me.

I will never forget the throbbing, terrifying and debilitating pain so deep inside my head that I didn’t even recognize it as toothache.  A friend drove me to the Otago Dental School where they couldn’t see a cavity to blame for the pain. After a consultation involving a crowd of students, the supervising dentist advised drilling a hole in the back of my right lateral incisor. An overpoweringly shameful smell of rotten meat seemed to flood the huge teaching clinic, confirming that they had pinpointed the infected tooth.

In the three decades since my first root canal, books like The Toxic Tooth by Robert Kulacz and Root Canal Cover-Up by Dr George Meinig have raised public awareness that a ‘high percentage of chronic degenerative disease can originate from root filled teeth’ (Meinig).

However, most dentists continue to recommend and perform root canals without hesitation while most holistic dentists believe all teeth with root canals should be removed.

When professionals are so divided it can be hard to make a decision for your own teeth, especially if you are in pain.

I believe that because everyone is unique, with different combinations of genetics, lifestyle, dental history, family histories, personal health, budgets and priorities there can be no simple answer to the question ‘should I get a root canal?’.

That’s why I’ve developed a list of questions designed to help tease out the aspects of each unique situation that may have a bearing on a root canal decision.

The majority of questions to be considered are actually the same for either getting or removing a root canal. However, your answers may lead you to a different conclusion, depending on whether you are getting new root canal or having an old one removed.  

This article is split into two parts, Part 1 (this post) is for people who are considering a new root canal. Part 2 is for people who have a root canal already and who are considering its removal.

DisclaimerPlease be aware that I am not a dental professional and I am offering information for educational purposes only. If you are thinking about acting on the basis of any information in this article, I encourage you to do your own additional research, use your own common sense and take responsibility for your own health choices. However, do not delay in addressing any infection in your mouth, because if left untreated, there can be serious, long-term health consequences, up to, and including, death.

Root Canal Decision Checklist

Free to Download Now

10 Questions to consider before getting or removing a root canal. 

Root Canal Decisions Checklist

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

What is a root canal?

The root canal procedure involves the removal of the pulp (nerve, blood and lymphatic tissue) from within the hollow roots (canals) of the tooth.

The canal is sterilized and then packed with a material that seals off the canal. The idea is to quarantine the sterilized canal to keep it free from further infection.

Once the root is packed and sealed, a crown or filling is built up to recreate the original shape of the tooth and provide a biting surface (this is often done at a second appointment, with a temporary filling in place for a few weeks between).

To understand why so many people consider root canals to be a health risk, you need to know the anatomy inside your teeth.

Enamel is the outside covering of the tooth, dentin is the material under the enamel and pulp fills the canal at the center of the tooth, extending down into the roots.

The dentin is made of millions of tiny tubes whose job is to transport nutrients and oxygen from the pulp out to the enamel, which like dentin, is made up of microscopic tubes.

These tubes in the dentin and the enamel can also carry fluids from the saliva into the enamel and through the dentin down into pulp and eventually via the bloodstream to the rest of your body.

The tubes are so tiny, and so numerous that if the tubes from just one tooth were laid end to end they would be three miles long!

Mark A Briener, dentist and author of Whole Body Dentistry declares ‘it is absurd to believe all those millions of tiny tubules could possibly be “sterilized” during the process of performing a root canal.’

After the procedure, any bacteria unavoidably left behind in the sealed tubes begins to metabolise anaerobically and give off toxins that can enter the bloodstream and attack the parts of your body that are genetically weak or under stress.

Assessing root canal risks

Before you decide to get a root canal, its a good idea to assess how much you are at risk.

To help you to make a personal risk assessment quickly and comprehensively, I’ve discussed the 10 questions below into a downloadable checklist to help you interpret your answers to make a decision.

Print or save the The Root Canal Decision Checklist and use it to help make a decision about treatment quickly, even if your thoughts are fogged with pain or drugs.

Some of the questions are for yourself and your family to answer.

Some your dentist or doctor or other health professionals may be able to answer based on an examination or interview.

You may also choose to get some tests to get more certainty.

      1. How strong is my immune system? 
      2. How good is my overall health? 
      3. Is there a family history of degenerative diseases?
      4. What other body parts does this tooth relate to and how resilient are they? 
      5. Am I willing to risk bacterial infection?
      6. Is a root canal being recommended for a cavity that has already exposed the root?
      7. Do we know for sure exactly which tooth is causing the problem?
      8. Is laser sterilization an option?
      9. Could I live without this tooth for chewing or looks? 
      10. What is my budget? What are the costs of the root canal, alternatives or possible follow up procedures? 

I hope these questions help you to make the best decision about whether or not to get a new root canal. If you already have a root canal, and are considering having it removed,  read Part 2 of this article about existing root canals.

Further Reading

I love recommending books and I love the Book Depository so I have partnered with them for my recommendations. If you choose to purchase through my link I may receive a commission- win win! Yay!’

Are your teeth trying to tell you something that you can’t quite make sense of?

In this free live Masterclass you’ll learn how to:

  • How to tell the difference between oral health symptoms and the underlying causes
  • Understand the metaphysical meanings of your teeth and gum issues
  • Practice a simple way to tune into your teeth that you can use any time

Getting Root Canals

The root canal is a controversial dental procedure yet most dentists continue to recommend root canals without hesitation while other dentists believe all root canals should be removed. I believe that because everyone is unique, with different combinations of genetics, lifestyle, dental history, family histories, personal health, budgets and priorities there can be no simple answer to the question ‘should I get a root canal’. That’s why I’ve developed a checklist designed to help tease out the aspects of your unique situation that may have a bearing on your root canal decision. 

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...

Removing Root Canals

If you have an existing root canal should you get it removed? How can you know if its safe? What are the symptoms of a toxic root canal?