First US study analysing tooth survival after root canal finds 11.1-year average

tooth survival after root canal
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Teeth survive about 11 years after a root canal, according to new research from the US.

The groundbreaking study by a team at Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Dentistry is the first to analyse records from community dental practices, where most Americans receive dental care.

The research is published in the Journal of Dental Research.

“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,” first author Dr Thankam Thyvalikakath said. 

“This information can be used to inform dental practices, and help patients and dentists make better care decisions.”

Root canals are an important treatment to maintain natural teeth affected by disease. However, over time, the treated tooth eventually becomes brittle and dies. Understanding the outcomes of the procedure is essential to improving dental treatments. 

For this study, the research team gathered deidentified electronic dental records from the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network, consisting of 99 small group and solo dentistry practices from around the country. The data covered more than 46,000 patients who received root canals. 

Data analysis revealed that the median survival time of a tooth after a root canal is 11.1 years. However, several factors can impact that, including follow-up treatments. There were also wide disparities in longevity among geographic regions, and insurance status likewise played a significant role in tooth survival time.

This study provides more representative data of the overall population than previous studies. It also demonstrates that meaningful insights can be gained through analysis of existing data from routine dental care.

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