Endodontics is a dental specialty focusing on the study and treatment of the dental pulp. While there are a variety of different procedures and endodontic services, root canal therapy is the most common and well known. Endodontic services are used to save a diseased or injured tooth to help patients avoid outright dental implants. Currently only about 10% of all U.S. dentists place implants, but that number is rising.
In a Question and Answer piece on the dentist and oral health news site, DearDoctor.com, doctor Susan Wolcott, an edodontic services expert, answered a reader's question regarding how long he can expect his tooth to last after getting root canal therapy. The information provided was also endorsed by the American Association of Endodontists.
"Today, root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment ("endo" – inside; "odont" – tooth), will save your natural tooth and allow you to keep it functional for decades if not a lifetime," Dr. Wolcott said. "But just as no two people are the same, teeth also vary widely, so that the success of root canal treatment depends on many factors."
Essentially what happens is the living tissue contained inside the tooth becomes inflamed and/or infected. If this isn't dealt with in a timely manner it can spread to other parts of the mouth and cause serious consequences. Early treatment also unsurprisingly has a positive correlation to longevity in root canals fillings.
Pretty important when you consider 96% of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex and virtually everyone (99.7%) believe a healthy smile is socially important, according to a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).
The specific tooth that's affected plays a role in predicting outcome. According to Wolcoot, the front teeth only have one root and are easier to treat than the back molars. Of course, the age of the patient and overall health will have an impact on the ultimate result of endodontic services as well.