How Long Does Root Canal Tooth last?

A tooth with properly finished root canal and crown can last for long time.

Ms. Yang came to our office with toothache 6 years ago.  A molar tooth needs root canal.  Fig.1 shows that the tooth has root tip infection (white <).  Root canal just starts with insertion of 2 thin files (black <) into 2 root canals in one of two roots for cleaning and shaping.  Gradually larger and larger files are being used to remove as many germs as possible from the root canals.  Finally the cleansed root canals are filled (Fig.2 *).  Compare the size of filling (*, two of them, but close to each other) with that of the files in Fig.1.  You may realize how much work has been done.  Look again at the extent of root tip infection in Fig.2 (<).

After root canal is done, filling is used to close the opening for root canal, so called build-up (Fig.3 B) to prevent germ getting into root canals again.  Ms. Yang should return to office immediately to get a crown to further prevent germ contamination and protect the tooth.  But she returns for this procedure 2.5 years later, because of minor chip of the tooth.  Fortunately, root tip infection is completely gone (Fig.3 >).

With crown protection (Fig.4 C), Ms Yang is pain free and chews normally six years after root canal.  There is no sign of root tip re-infection (>, as compared to Fig.1,2). 

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 09/22/2011, last revision 09/22/2011