Does Root Canal Treatment Last Forever?

Root canal treatments are inconvenient — but this is mostly related to the fact that you need one at all. However, they're not painful or traumatic. This might have once been true, but with advancements in techniques and pain relief, you're not going to be especially troubled by the procedure. But is this procedure really going to solve your dental problem? Anyone who's about to receive a root canal might be wondering if the treatment will last?

The Results

A root canal is one of those procedures where it's difficult for even a seasoned professional (your dentist, in this case) to tell you how long the results will last. But the odds are in your favor. As vague as it might sound, the results of a root canal can last anywhere from many years to indefinitely.

The Process

Root canal treatment removes the infected pulp (the nerve) from inside your tooth. The tooth's pulp chamber is cleaned out and filled before the tooth is closed with a filling, which is often reinforced with a dental crown. There are some patients who might experience what feels like an early failure of their treatment. 

A Second Procedure

If remnants of the infected dental pulp remain inside the tooth's pulp chamber and canals, you may experience a recurrence of symptoms (discomfort). This requires a second root canal procedure, which is considered to be part of your overall treatment. If needed, it's likely this will be noticed and addressed within weeks of your initial treatment. 

Oral Hygiene

Most patients won't need that second procedure, and then it's simply a case of maintaining the highest possible level of oral hygiene in order to prolong the life of your treated tooth. There are other factors that can shorten the life of successful root canal treatment, and the tooth has a greater chance of further deterioration if any decay was already advanced before the treatment was performed. If the underlying jawbone or periodontal ligaments were affected, the restored tooth may require additional treatment in the years to come, if it should destabilize.

The Tooth's Location

The actual location of the treated tooth can play a role in the longevity of the tooth and its restoration. An incisor or canine tooth has a less complex root system than a molar or premolar. This means the initial root canal treatment was less involved, and a recurrence of any problem is less likely. 

Since it's possible for a root canal to last indefinitely, this should be your goal. The best way to achieve that goal is to maintain an impeccable standard of oral hygiene while at home and to attend your regular dental checkups.