(By Dr. Joseph D. Lim and Dr. Kenneth Lester Lim, BS-MMG, DDM, MSc-OI)
TEETH survive about 11 years after a root canal.
Researchers at the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University (IU) School of Dentistry give deeper insight into the longevity of dental procedures.
The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, is groundbreaking “because it provides real-world data on a wider range of patients, not just those receiving care in large health systems,” said first author Thankam Thyvalikakath, DMD, MDS, PhD.
“This information can be used to inform dental practice, and help patients and dentists make better care decisions,” said Dr. Thyvalikakath, Director of the Regenstrief-IU School of Dentistry’s Dental Informatics Program.
The study is the first to analyze records from community dental practices, where most Americans receive dental care.
Root canals are an important treatment to maintain natural teeth affected by disease. Over time, the treated tooth eventually becomes brittle and dies. Understanding the outcomes of the procedure is essential to improving dental treatments.
The research team gathered electronic dental records from the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network, consisting of 99 small group and solo dentistry practices in the United States. The data covered more than 46,000 patients who received root canals.
Data analysis revealed that the median survival time of a tooth after a root canal is 11.1 years. However, several factors can impact that, including follow-up treatments.
Teeth that receive a root canal, and a subsequent filling and crown last about 20 years. Teeth that receive either a filling or a crown after a root canal last around 11 years.
Teeth that receive no restorative work after a root canal only last about 6.5 years.
“Oral health is a public health issue that significantly affects people’s overall health. Leveraging dental records can help us better understand ways to improve treatment, identify causal relationships and maintain the health of teeth and gums,” said Dr. Thyvalikakath who is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Informatics and Computing.
The study provides more representative data of the overall population than previous studies. It also demonstrates that meaningful insights can be gained through analysis of existing data from routine dental care.
Established in 2019, the Regenstrief Institute-IU School of Dentistry Dental Informatics Program is one of only a few in the United States, and perhaps the only one linked to a clinical data repository managed by a regional health information exchange.
The program uses both electronic dental and medical record data for clinical research to develop interoperable databases and advance the knowledge of oral health problems that cause, co-occur with or result from medical conditions. The goal is to implement findings into dental clinics and other points of care.
Founded in 1969 in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute is a key research partner to Indiana University. Regenstrief and its research scientists are responsible for a growing number of major healthcare innovations and studies.
Examples range from the development of global health information technology standards that enable the use and interoperability of electronic health records to improving patient-physician communications, to creating models of care that inform practice and improve the lives of patients around the globe.
Founded in 1879, Indiana University School of Dentistry is the only dental school in Indiana state and the alma mater of about 80 percent of the dentists practicing in the state.
Dr. Joseph D. Lim, Ed. D., is the former Associate Dean of the College of Dentistry, University of the East; former Dean, College of Dentistry, National University; Past President and Honorary Fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy; Honorary Fellow of the Japan College of Oral Implantologists; Honorary Life Member of the Thai Association of Dental Implantology; and Founding Chairman of the Philippine College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail or text 0917-8591515.
Dr. Kenneth Lester Lim, BS-MMG, DDM, MSc-OI, graduated Doctor of Dental Medicine, University of the Philippines, College of Dentistry, Manila, 2011; Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management, De la Salle University, Manila, 2002; and Master of Science (MSc.) in Oral Implantology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, 2019. He is an Associate Professor; Fellow, International Congress of Oral Implantologists; Member, American Academy of Implant Dentistry and Fellow, Philippine College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail ./PN