The benefits of a root canal treatment when you have a tooth that is infected or injured are significant. First and foremost, you keep your tooth. Root canals also effectively reduce tooth pain, decrease the chance that serious dental infection will spread to adjacent teeth, and prevent the loss of bone density in the jaw, a common after-effect of tooth loss.
With all these advantages, the longer a root canal treatment can contribute to preserving a natural tooth, the better. The lifespan of a root canal treatment can vary considerably, depending on the circumstances. Here are several important factors that can play a role in how long your root canal treatment may last.
Factors Impacting Root Canal Success
Which tooth needs the root canal? The position of the compromised natural tooth will influence how complex the root canal procedure will be. Front teeth typically have only a single tooth root. Your molars, on the other hand, have two or even three root canals to be cleaned and filled, and will require a crown to protect the natural tooth afterward.
How bad is the damage to the tooth? Severe tooth decay or a crack or chip in a tooth can lead to inflammation or infection so bad that an abscess forms. If the outer structure of the tooth is still intact, there is a better chance that a root canal will last longer.
Who will perform the root canal? Endodontists are specialists in saving natural teeth. Surveys indicate that endodontists perform, on average, 25 root canals a week; general dentists average far fewer. One study found that 98 percent of root canals done by endodontists are successful, along with 90 percent done by general practitioners.
Will additional treatment be needed? The overall health of the tooth impacts whether a root canal is the best treatment. If the structure of the tooth itself is weak, a post and core procedure may be performed after the root canal to help anchor the crown and hold the natural tooth together.
Are you motivated to take care of your natural teeth? Patient involvement in the root canal process is critical to ensuring its long-term success. Contact your practitioner if you have unusual postoperative pain or if your temporary crown falls out; get the crown for the treated tooth promptly; and contact your dentist or endodontist if you have symptoms indicating tooth root infection at any point.
Dr. Susan L. Wood, who practices with the Phoenix Endodontic Group, says, “Root canals can preserve natural teeth for years or even decades – and for some, they can last a lifetime. Our practice can instruct you in all the ways you can ensure your root-canal treated tooth stays healthy for as long as possible.”