Root canals are often the treatment of choice when you develop a serious infection involving your natural tooth’s pulp, or if your tooth has been chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged. However, while root canals have a high success rate and a high patient satisfaction rate, not every root canal ends up being a permanent solution.
The factors that initially bring a patient to the endodontist influence whether their tooth can be saved by a root canal. Here is a short list of conditions that can make saving a tooth with a root canal treatment more challenging.
Teeth with long or unusually curved roots. Endodontists use special tools and seal the roots. If a patient’s canals are hard to clean, it may be less likely that the treatment will be permanently successful.
A crack in the tooth root. Even though teeth treated with a root canal are protected above the gum line with a restoration such as a crown, if the root itself develops a crack, infection can re-enter the tooth.
Advanced periodontal disease. Your gums play an integral role in your oral health and if you have severe or recurrent gum disease, saving your natural tooth through a root canal is far less likely to be successful.
Previous root canal treatment of the tooth. There are ways to treat a tooth if the original root canal fails, such as a retreatment or an apicoectomy. However, the success rates for additional procedures are not as high as for a first-time root canal treatment.
“Although root canal treatment often provides a lifelong solution for a damaged or infected natural tooth, it isn’t the best choice for every patient,” says Dr. Susan L. Wood, an endodontist who practices with the Phoenix Endodontic Group. “Our staff can perform a thorough examination and advise you on your best treatment options.”