Recent research has been looking into how long a tooth typically lasts after being treated with a root canal treatment. Root canal procedures are usually used when a tooth has become infected. The researchers found that the average length of time that a tooth that has had a root canal treatment lasts is 11 years. This is an interesting finding, and shows that root canal procedures are effective, and can prolong the life of teeth for many years.
A root canal is a rather common dental procedure. It is a treatment that involves treating an infection that has affected the tooth. Root canal treatments have a high level of success, but are sadly not permanent fixes.
Now, a new study has looked into a large data set based on root canal treatments. The study has analyzed how long teeth that have had a root canal treatment done will typically survive.
The researchers found that on average, teeth survive approximately 11 years following a root canal treatment. However, the research also found that this can be dependent on a few different factors. Fortunately, the research does confirm that root canal procedures can be very effective.
What is a root canal treatment?
A root canal treatment is a type of dental procedure that is used to treat infection at the centre of a tooth . The aim in a root canal treatment is to save a tooth that may otherwise need to be removed completely.
The root canal itself is a root that extends from the crown of the tooth to the nerves in the jaws. An infection is typically caused by a filling becoming loose or falling out, trauma to the teeth, or tooth decay .
In a root canal procedure, a dentist will remove the bacteria from the root canal system. The root canal itself is then filled, before typically being sealed with a filling or crown .
While a root canal treatment typically extends the life of a tooth by many years, they are very rarely permanent solutions. Over time, the treated tooth will become brittle and eventually die.
The research was carried out by teams at the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University’s School of Dentistry . Subsequently, their research was published in the Journal of Dental Research .
This represented the first study where records from community dental practices were analyzed . These practices are where most Americans receive their dental care – which increased the relevance of this research.
For this study, the research team gathered anonymous electronic dental records from the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network . This is a collection of 99 small groups and solo dentistry practices from across the United States .
Overall, data from over 46,000 patients was used . All of these patients had been the recipient of a root canal treatment at some point in the past . The researchers looked at how long the tooth that received the root canal treatment had survived for in all 46,000 cases.
They found that the average survival time of a tooth following a root canal treatment was 11.1 years . This shows the effectiveness of a root canal procedure – given that without treatment, the affected tooth would normally need to be removed.
However, the researchers did note that several factors can impact this. They looked at the different combinations of restorative work for root canal procedures. They found that :
• Teeth that receive a filling and a crown after a root canal last approximately 20 years
• Teeth that receive either a filling or a crown after a root canal last approximately 11 years
• Teeth that have a root canal but no other restorative work done last approximately 6.5 years
Moreover, researchers found that there were many differences in survival rates among geographic regions . For example, those in northeast America had an average survival time of 20.5 years, while those in Western America had just 8.7 years as their average survival time .
What this means
Typically, not much can be done on a personal level to effect the survival time of an affected tooth – other than strong oral hygiene. This can protect the tooth and improve overall oral health. However, the factors mentioned above are interesting.
The research shows that the more restorative work that is done, the higher the chances are of long-term survival for the tooth . Therefore, both patients and dentists should factor this into treatment plans.
Thankam Thyvalikakath of the Regenstrief Institute, was the main author. He commented on the findings. He stated that “the findings of this study give deeper insight into the longevity of dental procedures because it provides real-world data on a wider range of patients, not just those receiving care in large health systems or those who are insured” .
This study was particularly useful given the fact that over 46,000 patients were used. Therefore, these represent reliable figures that can be provided to patients when explaining the merits of a root canal treatment.
1) In an ideal world, we would all avoid needing root canal procedures. However, they are procedures that are sometimes required – and can actually bring a tooth back from the dead. The best way of avoiding ever getting to this stage is to practice excellent oral hygiene. This includes attending the dentist for regular check-ups, and receiving any treatment that is required. We recommend that you book an appointment soon!
2) Have you had a root canal procedure in the past? If so, remember to get it checked out regularly by your dentist. If problems do arise with your root canal, then your dentist will be able to make recommendations, and potentially provide further restorative work to extend the life of the tooth further. The easiest way for all of this to happen is to attend regular check-ups with your dentist. Be sure to attend a dental practice soon!
hat we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that offer many services, including regular check-ups, cavity fillings and root canals.
It is important for oral problems to be addressed early. Any dental problems will be identified at check-ups. This helps to prevent the problem getting worse. If and when further treatment is needed after a check-up, our patients receive a clear treatment plan that is suited to their needs.
The best way of avoiding extra treatment is to have strong oral hygiene. This includes brushing our teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly, and getting a dental check-up at least twice a year. Avoiding sugary foods and drink and not smoking also helps.
Our Calgary-based dental clinic Taradale Dental also follows the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This means our prices are competitive, transparent and affordable.
 NHS. (2022). Root canal treatment. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/root-canal-treatment/. Last accessed: 21st May 2022.
 Thyvalikakath, T., LaPradd, M., Siddiqui, Z., Duncan, W. D., Eckert, G., Medam, J. K., Rindal, D. B., Jurkovich, M., & Gilbert, G. H. (2022). Root Canal Treatment Survival Analysis in National Dental PBRN Practices. Journal of Dental Research. (Pre-publication issue). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00220345221093936.
 Regenstrief Institute. (2022). First US study analyzing tooth survival after root canal in general population finds 11.1 year average. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-05-tooth-survival-root-canal-population.html. Last accessed: 21st May 2022.