Dental cavitations could be a source of stealth infection harming your health. But so many people have never heard of a cavitation before. What is it? How do you get them? And what are the potential problems with them?
I want to share my story about cavitations because it may also be part of your story. If you have symptoms or have been struggling with your health without much progress, this could be an issue for you too.
As I was doing research I wanted to read stories of other people who had experienced cavitation surgery and what the recovery was like. And I could only find a couple. But I wanted more, so I decided to share my story of my own cavitation surgery experience. From making my appointment for my cone beam scan to 5 weeks post surgery (that’s where I am as I type this).
Most dentists don’t have the knowledge or resources, or sometimes even the belief that cavitations are a thing. You have to find a dentist that is a specialist if you think this could be an issue for you.
What is a cavitation?
A cavitation is an unhealed hole of necrotic bone at the site of a tooth extraction. This hole houses bacteria and becomes infected and does not heal on its own. These infections are stealth (often hidden) and cause the body to work sub-optimally. It is estimated that 80- 90% of wisdom teeth extractions have cavitations. Root canals often have cavitations too, so it is not just extraction sites.
Cavitations contain infection, and that can subclincally make its way throughout the body. Or at least prevent someone from fully healing or make their body more sensitive. A cavitation infection won’t show up on bloodwork (or so rarely if at all), but it is still present in the body.
Why do cavitations form and the bone not heal?
There is actually a right and wrong way to do an extraction. Remember when I said that conventional dentists don’t acknowledge or know what cavitations are? Well, they are also not trained or aware of a better way to perform an extraction.
The proper way is to remove the periodontal ligament. You can think of that ligament having lots of little fibers on it. The fibers don’t allow the extraction site to heal fully. Plus, after a conventional extraction, you have an open hole. And that hole + the periodontal ligament still present encourages incomplete bone healing. And that is where you get the whole in the bone that causes the cavitation.
The extraction should be done with removing the periodontal ligament. And then they should make sure the hole in the bone is filled in with a clot and stitched up so it heals properly.
Why are cavitations a big deal? Or any dental issue?
Because your mouth is connected to the rest of your body. It has meridians and a certain tooth is connected to a certain gland/organ. That means anything off with your teeth, can produce symptoms in your body.
Hidden infections, periodontal disease, cavities, and poor oral microbiome can all contribute to dis-ease in the body. And put a stress on certain organs or not allow your body to fully heal.
How do you know if you have cavitations?
The medical imaging technique used to determine if you have a cavitation is called a Cone Beam CT. It is a device that moves around your head and captures images using a cone shaped x-ray beam. These images are then combined to created a 3D image of the patients maxillofacial region. On this image, a cavitation will looks like a black pocket in your bone.
Sometimes they can see a cavitation on an X-ray, but it isn’t very reliable. And often misses a cavitation. So the Cone Beam Scan is the best way to find them.
Many holistic/ biological dentists have them in their office. I had mine done right at my dentist’s office. I did pay out of pocket for the scan.
How do they remove a cavitation?
The simplest way they remove a cavitation is going in and removing the infection from the jaw. Really, super unscientifically, they dig and drill it out. There is a black tar like stuff in the cavitation and that is the stuff that forms the infection. Then they drill out the old necrotic bone and the capsule of infection is removed.
After that, you still have an area of open bone that, if not dealt with appropriately, could form another cavitation. They clean the area with ozone to make sure the bacteria and other pathogens are killed and the site is clean. Then they put a platelet rich fibrinogen clot into the hole in the bone and put a stitch or two in your mouth to make sure it will heal appropriately. They make that clot by taking blood from your arm and spinning it into a clot right in the office (it’s really cool!)
The clot makes sure there isn’t any open space to form another cavitation. And once everything is stitched up, they put more ozone in the area, just to make sure you gave your body the best chance of healing without any infection.
There is the option to have the cavitation sites sent in for testing to see what pathogens were growing in there. It tests some bacteria, mold and parasites. But my dentist told me that the test results always come back with very high results of almost everything. And they are $500 per cavitation site. That would have been an unnecessary $1000 in my opinion. I just assumed that it was full of pathogens. And we moved on to healing 😉.
My Cavitation Story
I have only ever had two teeth extracted, both wisdom teeth. I have a huge mouth and had all of the room for all four wisdom teeth. But the last tooth wouldn’t come in and an x-ray showed it would probably not come in and may have had a cyst around it. That could have been bad news for my whole mouth, so we decided to get it extracted. This was in 2007.
It needed an oral surgeon and I was put under anesthesia for my procedure. And it was honestly a good thing because it was a nasty extraction and had 3 roots. This took a long time to heal and I was in a lot of pain. In all honesty, my 2 cesarean births were less painful for a shorter amount of time than this wisdom tooth extraction.
About 2 weeks after my extraction I was set to start chiropractic school. I moved into a new apartment, was about to start a big graduate school program and was still healing from this wisdom tooth extraction. I don’t like taking Ibuprofen 2 weeks later for the pain and I try and not take any OTC Pain relievers. It was still that big of an issue. I was in pain, stressed, and I know that impacted my healing. I never got a dry socket or anything, but it was a slow healing process.
One thing I didn’t know at the time was this apartment I was moving into was going to be FULL of active mold. I didn’t know for over a year after moving in. But immediately I started to have symptoms and the gut symptoms I had intermittently would have started to be intense, constant and chronic. And new symptoms started developing. Like neck pain, stress, chronic fatigue, increased hunger, no awareness of satiety, and lack of focus.
I had known about cavitations for about 7 years but had not had myself checked. I didn’t know the process, I didn’t know who checked for them, and just assumed because I had no teeth issues or pain that I was cavitation free. Now that I am digging deeper into some of my chronic symptoms, its was time to see if cavitations could be a contributing factor.
So how did I get my second wisdom tooth extraction? About 5 years later, I had an upper wisdom tooth extracted because it was hyper-erupting becuase there was no tooth below it. It was a super easy extraction, I didn’t take a single pain reliever (either herbal or medication) and went on my way.
Since then, it has always been on my mind if that tooth actually healed well? Could it heal well in a stressful and moldy environment? And did the upper tooth heal well beings the periodontal ligament wasn’t removed with it?
When I look back at my symptoms, a lot started after my first wisdom tooth removal. My dentist shared a quote that said “you can’t dry off standing in the shower” meaning you can’t get fully well if you aren’t addressing a source of toxicity. In this case, in the mouth. And everything I have done in a decade of working on my health hasn’t gotten me well for a long period of time. The best I felt was right before and postpartum with my first kid. That was about 2 years time. In 14.5 years since my wisdom tooth removal.
In 2020, after the stress of moving during a pandemic and a house full of bacteria (we didn’t know this until later), my body crashed. And it took 9 months before I saw any progress with my symptoms. And since then, I am still healing from that crash, but I was determined to pull out all of the stops and dig into all of the sources of toxicity in my body.
That meant… looking into cavitations.
A quick story before I move on. I was still confused on where I got a cone beam scan and what the process was like. And while on vacation in Palm Springs with my family and parents my dear friend was in the same city, at the same time for work. So we got to stand in the pool, in the sunshine, and talk all about life and health and her recent cavitation surgery. It was literally an answer to prayer and a God-ordained time for us to be together. It was that conversation and her encouragement that inspired me to go into her dentist and get the imaging done.
My Cone Beam Scan
The results of my Cone Beam image was that I had cavitations at both extraction sites. These extractions were done well but not completely. The periodontal ligament wasn’t removed. The bottom one is larger and worse than the top one. But I was so surprised my top extraction site had a cavitation. Although I could probably bet good money that the bottom one was infected.
I was talking to my mom before I got my results back and she said “should we pray you have cavitations?” because they could be a big answer to your health and a source of toxicity in your body. And after she said that, I can honestly say I kind of wished I had them. Could they really be a big part of my health issues?
Now that I knew that I had the two cavitations, I had to get them fixed. I was excited to peel back another layer of my health puzzle. Especially because so many of my symptoms started around the time of my extractions. I scheduled it right away and gave myself about a month to prep my body.
I had a few questions: Will this eradicate my symptoms? Give me a crazy good turn around? Could this infection have triggered my mold genes? Could it keep the genes expressing and keeping me symptomatic? I had to know the answers! But I also wanted to keep one thing in mind… that even if I saw no change in my symptoms, it is still the correct choice to remove them. I wasn’t putting my hope in this surgery. My hope and healing is in Christ, and I was trusting this was my next right step, with or without symptom improvement.
Preparing for Cavitation Removal Surgery
I am one to be over prepared rather than under prepared. I purchased a lot of products to have on hand because I am not sure what I will need or what will help or what wouldn’t help.
I also had a very sensitive body at this time. I had seen 2 months of symptom improvement, but I was also not back to my usual normal. I don’t recommend this if you are very very sick or symptomatic. I couldn’t have done it 3 months prior. But I got the OK from my natural practitioner and we both felt I needed this done before I could move on in my mold/ Biotoxin protocol.
- Arnica Montana 200c. You can use this every 90 minutes- 3 hours for pain relief.
- Professional Formulas homeopathic Facial Pain Drops
- Herbal Eze from Nutridyn. This is my favorite go to for any type of pain. It has ginger, boswelia, black pepper and ginger in it. It helps for period cramps and we always have it on hand.
- Neuro Biologix Pea sooth support topical
- Leafy: very similar to Herbal Eze but in a great tasting liquid form. This was a go to early on when I couldn’t open my mouth as much and capsules were harder to swallow. A lot of people do well with liquid formulas vs capsules because they are more absorbable.
- Hypericum 30c Homeopathic. This is supposed to help nerve pain and can be helpful with facial pain too.
- CBD cream
- I also had ibuprofen on hand in case I needed it. I was going to handle the pain naturally as best as I could, but also, beings I go years between using ibuprofen (the last time was my c-section 3 years ago) I think it is ok to take when you need it. I ended up needing to take one tablet the first 3 nights. I choose getting sleep over fighting through the pain. And my more sensitive body needs sleep!
Other products: PurO3 Tooth & gum support to put on topically for healing.
Leading up to Surgery
Leading up to the surgery, I was at peace about it but still nervous. I knew this was the next step for my healing but also knowing that my body has been so sensitive for the last 10 months has made this more stressful.
The dentist I went to offers sedation for any dental procedure. There’s the oral sedative and the IV sedative. Oral is much easier to detox from. But the oral also can make you feel a little out of it and groggy for up to 24 hours. You don’t remember the surgery and essential are incredibly calm and no anxiety through the whole thing.
Beings I only had 2 cavitations and at max it would be 40 minutes, I opted (nervously) for no sedation. Just Novocain. I’m glad I choose that. I knew I could to this without it. Now, if I had more dental work to do, like root canal extractions or more sites, I would have chosen the sedation. And if you have a lot of dental anxiety, choosing the sedation is probably a good thing.
I asked the dental office a LOT of questions. I wanted to be prepared. I encourage you to do the same. Ask away! That is what they are there for. But also, I’m here to share what I learned from both talking to them and my experience. Maybe I can save you a little time and put your mind at ease.
Let me say that I was so nervous. I didn’t sleep well the night before and was overall at peace but still so worked up and nervous. Thankfully my surgery was at 8:30 am and I didn’t have to wait long. I scheduled it that way so I could have the whole day to rest and recover. My husband drove me, and I highly recommend it. If you are sedated at all, you are not allowed to drive yourself and need a driver. We are 45 minutes away from the dentist and I knew I didn’t want to try driving myself.
My holistic dentist’s office is amazing. I absolutely love them and they made the whole process so comfortable. They brought me into the operatory and we chatted a bit and we all made sure we had the right teeth and side and were all set to go.
That’s when the doctor took my blood in order to make the platelet rich fibrin clot to add to each of my cavitation sites to encourage healing.
They topically numbed me and then injected the Novocain. My body has been very sensitive the last year. I have had a lot of neurological symptoms and got my cavitations removed when my body was still fairly symptomatic. I supported my body a lot and prepared and rested for this surgery so I would be as strong as I could be.
After the Novocain my body got really wired. My heart was pounding and was elevated and was so loud in my body. This tachycardia isn’t new to me, but I thought I better mention it to my dentist and the assistant. We decided not to do nitrous oxide (because I don’t know if I have the MTHFR gene snip and you have a harder time detoxifying nitrous oxide).
They gave me oxygen and laid me back and my body calmed down. That tachycardia episode was from the epinephrine in the Novocain. I thought I was getting so nervous for the procedure my heart started beating and was nervous and I couldn’t get through the surgery or had to wait til another day (it was a fear I had leading up to surgery).
Overall the surgery was easy. I think it was easier than a tooth extraction. And they told me it was going to be more like an upper extraction, in terms of pain, and heal fairly quickly. Once the dentist started it took 20 minutes.
You may or may not want to read this… but this is the details of the surgery in the next paragraph.
First, they cut into your gums. You feel none of this. Although I could taste the blood a bit. They scrape out the “gunk” in the cavitation with an instrument. And from there the dentist drills the necrotic bone out down to the healthy bone. They cleaned out the site with ozone. Then, they place the clot and stitch up the area. They only used one stitch for me. And then the same thing on the next tooth.
I was numb, but felt so awesome to have it done, and then we went home for me to rest.
Pre-surgery body prep
This is what I did for my body and some things to consider. I believe in prepping your body for any procedure. I didn’t go overboard here, I just did a version of what I normally do and added in a few extra prep things.
- I did dry brushing, epsom salt baths, castor oil packs all to support my detoxification systems.
- The dentist and my functional medicine doctor both recommended glutathione, liposomal vitamin C and turmeric to prep. I was already on most of this. And it’s best to do IV nutrition. But my body may have not been strong enough to handle IV nutrition, so I took IV to Go and it worked very well. I prepped a few days before and a few days after. I went through almost 2 bottles.
- I made sure I got enough sleep and went to bed early. I have an Oura ring and my ring told me I was getting decent sleep, although I could tell based on a few numbers like HRV that my body was stressed out. But I did my best for my best sleep.
- This isn’t body prep, but I prepared and purchased a lot of liquid foods and soft foods. Soups, yogurt, smoothie, broths, noodles, canned green beans. I grabbed whatever sounded good to me.
Post surgery experience (the first week)
Overall, the surgery recovery wasn’t that hard. For me, it was emotionally harder that it was physically. Because my body has been more symptomatic and it was a very hard year symptom wise, I don’t have as much emotional resilience for symptoms.
My pain levels were very manageable with my natural products. The first day after the Novocain wore off was the worst, but after that it was annoying, but not unmanageable. Nothing like my extraction of my lower wisdom tooth.
I did take 3 ibuprofen. One each night before bed the first 3 days. I needed sleep more than I needed to avoid pain meds. And I rarely ever take them. Not even once a year. This worked for me.
I had some definite swelling. The first 2 days I couldn’t close my mouth. That meant I couldn’t chew anything. One of the hardest parts for me was not being able to eat normally and get my normal caloric intake and protein. Liquid diets are hard! But it’s what I had to do and I prepared for it.
I was apprehensive to chew, but I also couldn’t the first 3 days. I ate a lot of smoothies, pureed broth soups, canned soups (like tomato and squash), yogurt. But I was hungry. And I wanted to eat more but couldn’t. This was harder than the pain… not eating enough.
I ended up taking the spaghetti my family made and pureeing it smooth in the blender so I could get some more fat and actual animal protein in me. It made such a difference. So yes, it was weird to eat liquid spaghetti… but I felt good and I’m so glad I tried it.
If I would give you any word of wisdom on the food front, eat a lot of food before your procedure so you won’t be hungry for a while 😉
I also had some swelling and bruising. But it wasn’t horrible, but definitely there and present. I had the most bruising inside my mouth on the bottom side. And my throat was sore, no wonder why. It was swollen and bruised.
I was exhausted.
Not as much the first couple of days. But day 3-7 I was beyond tired out. I felt like I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, that unmovable and unrelenting exhaustion. It is hard to explain, but very different than my normal chronic fatigue. I watched a lot of movies, just laid around, and wasn’t able to do a lot with my kids.
Thankfully I had help from my parents, a weekend where Phil was with them, and then my mother in law came another day that week. My tip: plan for help with the kids if you have younger kids! The fog of fatigue lifted on the 8th day and I was finally able to function again. And surprisingly had a little more energy than before the surgery!
I couldn’t get through a day with out a nap, so I took a nap every day for the first 5 days. This first week. plan to feel tired. You are recovering from surgery. I thought I was going to sit in my bed and get some work done. Nope! I pretty much did no work this week. I wouldn’t have been able to go to work. But also, remember my body has been more sensitive, so this may not be your exact experience.
I did ask a few friends. They said about a week or two also. I have a friend with more extensive work done and she was finally able to do more after a month.
The week after my surgery my tongue was coated and my teeth on the side of my surgery felt coated, like I hadn’t brushed in days. And my breath was so so bad. I was detoxing from all of the junk in those cavitations. My mom is a dental hygienist and she said that my breath smelled necrotic even the first couple of days.
During this you are pushing a lot of toxins. I have had this infection in my teeth for 14.5 and 10 years and that has caused my body some issues. Healing and detoxing won’t be overnight things. It has ebbed and flowed the last few weeks. Sometimes I feel better than before the surgery, and sometimes I feel flared up and like I am living in mold again (I must be dumping a lot).
I am trying to keep on top of my detox and drainage strategies to keep those toxins leaving my body. During the week I try many things like dry brushing, fascia blasting, chi machine, red light therapy, ionic foot baths, liposomal vitamin C, my binders (for mold and biotoxins), sleep, morning sunlight, walking. I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but that’s what I did. Do the things you feel most comfortable with and what works for your body for detox.
This isn’t a cheap surgery. The cone beam scan was $375 out of pocket. And my surgery was $3500. Insurance should cover $2500, but I believe that is fairly rare for that kind of coverage. We haven’t seen a final bill from insurance, but that was preauthorization.
This is a bigger investment into your health. But I would say it is worth it for a lot of you and will allow greater healing!
How do I feel now?
I’m 5 weeks post surgery. And although I just went through a week in this post, I wanted to leave you with a little more. I am SO glad I got this surgery done. This was a root cause of me not getting well over the years. And they are now gone. I can keep healing and hopefully reach a level of healing I haven’t had in 15 years. That’s my goal.
I had the best 3 weeks after the first week of the surgery that I’d had in 11 months. So many symptoms subsided. My body calmed down a bit, my sleep has improved (still needs improvement), my brain got a bit clearer and I feel stronger as a whole. I’ve had a little flare up the last week as I enter into a new phase of detox, but that may just be my story of healing.
My Oura ring has showed that my body is feeling less stress than before my surgery. My HRV is higher and I can see that it is directly related to getting out a stealth infection in my body.
I plan on sharing more of how I have felt after a few months. My body still has a lot of healing that needs to happen to get me back to normal. This was a big step.
One other thing is that my coloring and face just looks healthier. I have had a few people say that. I look better than I did before (with or without makeup). And I’m so grateful, because that is a huge part of how healthy your body is internally too.
One thing I wish I would have done before was get these out earlier. I wished I would have known the process and gotten them removed before I had kids. Maybe my body wouldn’t have crashed as bad as it did. I won’t ever know. But God knew that this was the right time for me, and I trust Him and His plan for my health and healing!
Stay in the know with Dr. Meghan
Don't miss out on anything! Join my healthy living community for encouragement right to your inbox.