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How successful is root canal treatment?


How successful is root canal treatment? Do root canal restorations work?  When a tooth pulp becomes inflamed or infected, root canal retreatment can often solve the problem.  There are several reasons why root canals fail, but by seeking initial root canal treatment from an endodontist you can reduce the risk of root canal failure.

The ultimate reason why root canals fail is bacteria.  If our mouths were sterile there would be no decay or infection, and damaged teeth could, in ways, repair themselves.  So although we can attribute nearly all root canal failure to the presence of bacteria, there are some other common reasons why root canals fail, and why at least four of them are mostly preventable.

Although initial root canal treatment should have a success rate between 85% and 97%, depending on the circumstance, a large part of the endodontists day consists of re-doing failing root canals that were done by someone else.  Root canals often fail for the following five reasons:

  1. Missed canals.
  2. Incompletely treated canals – short treatment due to ledges, complex anatomy, lack of experience, or lack of attention to quality.
  3. Remaining tissue.
  4. Fracture.
  5. Bacterial post-treatment leakage.

The best way to prevent failure of a root canal treatment is to seek care from a practitioner like an endodontist that has experience, that has the proper equipment (including a microscope and possibly a cone beam CBCT 3D imaging), and to receive timely restorative treatment either as soon as the root canal treatment is completed or shortly thereafter.

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