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    How successful are Root Canals Treatment?

    How successful are Root Canals Treatment?

    Our Root Canal Treatment Melbourne dentists at Coburg Dental Group often hear patients say or ask , “My friend says to not get a root canal treatment done because he’s had two of them and each of those teeth have been pulled.  Do root canals work?”  Like all medical and dental treatments, root canal failure can be a reality. It happens more often than it should but nevertheless it has a 95% success rate over 10 years. When a root canal failure is diagnosed, root canal retreatment can often solve the problem.  So why do root canals fail? How does seeking initial root canal treatment from a dentist with experience help reduce the risk of root canal failure?

    We can attribute nearly all root canal failures to the presence of bacteria. There are five common reasons why root canals fail, and four of them are mostly preventable.

    Root canals often fail for the following five reasons:

    1. Missed canals in the back teeth which usually have multiple roots
    2. Incompletely treated canals – short treatment due to ledges, complex anatomy, lack of experience, or lack of attention to quality.
    3. Remaining infected tissue which was not cleaned out properly.
    4. Tooth fracture.
    5. Bacterial leakage through a poor filling or crown.

    Missed canals

    The most common reason for root canal failure is untreated missed canals, most commonly in back teeth.

    Using cone beam (CBCT) 3-dimensional radiographic imaging, greatly assists in identifying the presence of all the canals. In addition, when a patient has a failing root canal, the CBCT is invaluable in helping us to definitively diagnose a missed canal.

    Incompletely Treated Canal

    The second most common reason for root canal failure is incompletely treated canals.  This usually comes in the form of “being short”, meaning that a canal is not treated all the way to the end of the root. Being short increases the chance of failure because it means that untreated or unfilled root canal space is present which bacteria can grow in to, and cause infection.

    Common reasons why a root canal treatment is shorter than it should be can be natural anatomy such as sharp curves or calcifications, ledges or dentist error such as incorrect measurements.

    Two factors that contribute to successfully treating a canal to length are proper equipment and experience.  One example of proper equipment is an extra fine root canal file which we stock at Root Canal Melbourne at Coburg Dental Group.  Our digital x-ray system and electronic apex locators are other pieces of specialized equipment which we utilize regularly.


    The third reason for root canal failure is infected tissue that has remained in the tooth at the time of the root canal treatment. This tissue also acts as a nutrient source to bacteria that can re-infect the root canal system.

    At Coburg Dental Group Root Canal Melbourne, we have the most up to date root canal equipment and medications required to make your treatment successful. If there is any doubt about any residual infection, the treatment is spaced out over 2 appointments so that an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication is placed in the canal(s) to eliminate the last remnants of infection.


    Another less common reason for root canal treatment failure is root fracture. This may not be directly related to the root canal treatment in some situations.  Cracks in the root allow bacteria to enter the canal system and cause symptoms like an infected tooth. Some cracks can be due to trauma, large and deep fillings, or grinding of teeth. Some cracks are simply not preventable.

    Often, theses cracks cannot be seen on a conventional dental x-ray and a special x-ray known as a CBCT is required for a definitive diagnosis.

    Some teeth with cracks can still have root canal treatment to preserve the tooth whilst other teeth need to be removed and replaced with a prosthetic tooth such as an implant supported crown.


    The goals of root canal treatment are to remove the canal tissue, kill all of the bacteria, and seal the canal system to prevent re-entrance of bacteria and re-infection.  It is therefore important that a correctly placed filling and/or crown is placed over the tooth to ensure that there is no leakage after the root canal treatment.

    The best way to reduce the chance of bacterial leakage is to have a permanent filling placed at the same time as the root canal treatment is finished.  A crown which is then placed at a subsequent appointment will ensure that the tooth is sealed as much as possible against bacterial leakage.

    Further Information

    For further information or to make an appointment to see one of our experienced dentists, please call (03)9386 1805

    Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.