Patients Don’t Mind Root Canals So Much After All

Dentistry Today


Root canal work isn’t as bad as people think compared to other dental procedures, say researchers at the University of Adelaide Dental School. According to their study, self-reporting of dental health suggests that patients find root canals no worse than other dental work. 

“Information about 1,096 randomly selected Australian people aged 30 to 61 was collected through questionnaires, dental records, and treatment receipts in 2009,” said Tallan Chew, BDS, a postgraduate student at the school and coauthor of the study.

“Their self-rated dental health score was checked when they had their dental work and two years later. Patients who had root canal work reported similar oral health-related quality of life as people who had other types of dental work,” Chew said.

“The effect of root canal work on patients’ oral health-related quality of life was compared to other kinds of dental work such as tooth extraction, restoration of teeth, repairs to the teeth or gum treatment, preventative treatment, and cleaning,” said Chew. 

More than 22 million root canal treatments are performed in the United States each year, with millions more performed around the world. According to the researchers, these procedures may have a profound positive effect on the quality of life of these patients. 

“There is growing interest in the dental profession to better understand the effect and impact oral diseases and their associated treatment, such as root canal work, have on patients’ quality of life,” said professor Giampiero Rossi-Fedele, DDS, MClinDent, PhD, head of endodontics at the school and coauthor of the study.

“A biopsychosocial view of health is increasingly replacing a purely biomedical model. Treatment outcomes need to be re-examined from a patient-based perspective using self-reported measures, as this more accurately reflects the patients’ perception of treatment outcomes and the effect it has on their overall well-being,” said Rossi-Fedele.

“Patient-reported treatment outcomes are now the principal driving force behind treatment needs, as opposed to clinician-based treatment outcomes,” said Rossi-Fedele.

“With this change in emphasis, the perspectives of patients and their relatives are important factors in identifying need for treatment, treatment planning, and determining outcomes from any healthcare intervention as part of shared decision making,” said Rossi-Fedele.

The study, “Comparative Longitudinal Study on the Impact Root Canal Treatment and Other Dental Services Have on Oral Health-Related Quality of Life Using Self-Reported Health Measures (Oral Health Impact Profile-14 and Global Health Measures),” was published by the Journal of Endodontics.

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