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When the pulp of a tooth becomes infected or inflamed, root canal treatment can prevent the need for extraction. An endodontist can save your natural tooth, potentially preserving it for years, decades or even a lifetime, by extracting the pulp and cleaning, shaping and disinfecting the root canals. Although the tooth no longer contains living pulp tissue, it is secured in place by the periodontal ligament, ensuring that it can continue to function like your other teeth after the pulp has been removed. While root canals can last a lifetime, there are some circumstances where your tooth might need retreatment. The following blog post answers the question, "How long does a root canal take?" and explains some of the factors that influence its useful life.

Root Canal Treatment Success Rate
The success rate of endodontic treatment is very high. This is something we see firsthand with patients in our practice, and scientific research backs up our observations. One of the most detailed studies on the subject examined the long-term efficacy of 487,476 root canals. According to this report, 98 percent of root canals last one year, 92 percent last five years, and 86 percent last ten years or more. Molars treated by endodontists had a significantly higher 10-year survival rate than molars treated by general dentists.

These figures are helpful in giving patients a general understanding of how long root canals last and why they are worth considering, but it is important to understand how your specific circumstances may affect the length of treatment.

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of Root Canals
What distinguishes a root canal that lasts a lifetime from one that needs to be re-treated after a few years? What steps should a patient take to increase the chances of a good outcome? Here are some points to consider.

Time of Treatment
Timely treatment provides better results than delayed treatment. Complications are more common when a tooth's condition worsens before it is treated, especially when the root canal infection spreads to the jawbone.

Timing and quality of restoration
You will need a permanent dental filling or crown to restore the tooth after root canal therapy. The quality of this restoration, as well as its time, is essential. The sooner you see your dentist to restore your tooth, the better. If you wait longer than the recommended period between the root canal and the restoration, your tooth will be at higher risk of complications.

Tooth location
Endodontic care of a front tooth is less complicated since it only has one root canal. Also, since these teeth are used for biting and cutting rather than grinding, they are subject to less force and stress. Since posterior teeth have two or three roots, they are more complicated to treat and bear more bite force when eating. This makes them more vulnerable to problems caused by fracture-damaged restorations.

Patient Age
Our teeth become brittle and more susceptible to breaking as we age. This will also affect the duration of the root canal. When it comes to restoring molars, dental crowns will help protect the tooth from stress, which is why they are often preferred over dental fillings in these circumstances.

The Bottom Line
We cannot say how long your root canal will last because there are so many variables involved. However, we know that a root canal is an effective treatment option that allows you to save a compromised tooth and, when performed by a board-certified endodontist, is likely to last a decade or more.

Schedule A Consult
If you need a root canal treatment, contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation at one of our six locations throughout the North Shore and Boston area.