Oral health is more than just fresh breath, pearly white teeth and a great smile. Poor oral hygiene has the potential to compromise your immune system and your overall health. In fact, the commonly performed root canal procedure - of which 25 million are carried out each year in the U.S. - can lead to chronic disease, according to Dr. Mercola's natural health website. Root Canal Dangers Exposed For years, those in the field of science have warned of the dangers of this dental procedure. Yet each day, 41,000 patients undergo a root canal, according to the source. Intended to save the natural tooth, these procedures hollow out the tooth and fill it with a substance which cuts off the blood supply. The tooth then remains in the mouth without this supply of blood, while cultivating many tiny areas that enable bacteria growth. In some cases, this toxic anaerobic bacteria can spread throughout the body and cause several medical complications including degenerative diseases like cancer. Since antibiotics cannot penetrate the tooth, they are not useful in killing the infections."Root canals stress the immune system," explained Hallelujah Diet health expert Olin Idol. "After decades of stress, cancer may develop in a genetic weak area as the immune system is no longer able to maintain health. It is thought by many who are knowledgeable about the dangers of root canals, cavitations and mercury fillings that oral pathology may be an underlying factor in up to 85 percent of ALL chronic diseases." Living with Cancer As Ann Malkmus writes in "Unravel the Mystery," one of the first things she urges people to do upon being diagnosed with cancer is to have any root canals evaluated, mercury amalgams removed and cavitation repaired. Making a visit to a biological dentist is also on her cancer recovery checklist. Tissue and gum health, as well as oral health as a whole, need to be addressed as there is far too much evidence proving the connection to cancer, according to Ann. Put even more directly by the Center for Advancement in Cancer Research, "Until a cancer patient gets rid of the root canal-filled teeth and cavitations, they don't get well." If you have had a root canal performed, these teeth should be removed before the age of 50 or even sooner, to avoid illness. "I would absolutely discourage anyone from having a root canal and if they have any, get them removed," said Idol. "A competent and knowledgeable holistic or mercury-free dentist will be able to work with a person and save a tooth that is potentially headed for a root canal. But, if it can not be saved apart from a root canal, you should have it pulled." Root Canal Alternatives Dr. Mercola explains several alternatives to the root canal if you have a tooth removed. For the easiest and most cost-effective option, you can have a removable denture put in, known as a partial denture. For something slightly more permanent, you can opt for a bridge. This will be more expensive and involved. And though there are some complications due to the metals used, a permanent artificial tooth can be implanted.When it comes to oral health, there are preventative measures that one can take. Regular flossing, brushing and use of Hydro Floss daily are among the best practices for promoting dental hygiene. It's also beneficial to use an oral probiotic supplement that can help to maintain favorable balance of flora in the mouth, according to Idol. "When friendly flora predominate, an environment is created that makes it difficult for pathogenic bacteria to thrive," he explained. Neglecting your oral hygiene may endanger the benefits you gain by following a biblical, plant-based diet. Maintaining your oral health will help provide you with a life of improved overall health, free of chronic disease.