This week I’m discussing Root Canal Treatments and their longevity. The subject is a complex one because the success and longevity of treatment depends on many factors. First I’d like to explain what an ideal root canal treatment and tooth restoration would be. Then, I will discuss common reasons for failure as well as statistics for treatment longevity. I hope you will find this article interesting!
Root Canal Treatment: Ideal Conditions & Longevity
When root canal treatments are completed thoroughly and the treated tooth is restored properly, you can expect a great long-term result. In fact, a University of Toronto Research Study in 2003 showed that the success (or “healed”) rate for 450 treated teeth was 81% at 6 years post-treatment. Unfortunately, studies following root canal treated teeth for more than 10 years are almost non-existent. However, some do exist showing a 75-80% success rate even at 10 years.
There are several key components to a successful treatment outcome. They include:
- Complete disinfection and a proper seal of the root canal system. If roots are not cleaned and sealed right to the root tip, the chance of failure goes up significantly.
- Placement of a post-operative dental crown or “cap. A large portion of long-term failures are due to cracking, leakage and re-infection. A dental crown reinforces the tooth to minimize the likelihood of cracking and fracture.
- Management of grinding habits and diet. Even with a post-operative crown, patients will still want to be careful to manage any night time grinding habits. Night time grinding can involve biting forces 5-10 times greater than your average chewing force. So, if you grind your teeth, make sure that you wear a night guard when sleeping.
When you take care of the 3 items above (unfortunately, the first one is not exactly under your control) you have an excellent chance of long-term success following root canal treatment.
As a Dentist, you see failed root canal treatments and the pattern of factors is almost always the same: a tooth cleaned and filled short of the root tips and often no post-operative crown placement. And, even the great looking root canal treatments can fail long-term due to cracking in the absence of a dental crown. When a good treatment is followed by dental crown placement and sound long-term maintenance, you can expect a long-lasting result!
Thank you for reading! I hope the article was informative to you.
If you would like to read more about Root Canal Treatment, please feel free to explore the Canadian Dental Association’s helpful content, here.
By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.