Root Canal Facts from American Association of Endodontics

Fact Sheet

Root Canal or Extraction
Patients today have more options than ever before to treat their teeth. Understanding your choices and their impact on your future dental health and lifestyle is important. Read our tooth saving tips to learn why nothing is as good as your natural tooth and get simple tips for saving your teeth!

Endodontists
Endodontists are dentists with special training in diagnosing and treating oral and facial pain, and problems associated with the inside of the tooth. Endodontists must complete four years of dental school plus two or more years of advanced training in endodontics. Visit the Why Choose an Endodontist page to learn more about endodontists, specialists in saving teeth.

Common Endodontic Symptoms
Patients may need endodontic treatment, including root canals, if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • prolonged dental sensitivity to heat or cold;
  • tenderness of teeth to touch and chewing; or
  • facial or oral swelling.

You can learn more by visiting our dental symptoms page.

Root Canals
Root canal treatment is needed when the pulp (the soft tissue inside the tooth) becomes inflamed or infected as a result of injury, deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a cracked or chipped tooth.

Visit our treatments and procedures page to learn more about root canals and other procedures to save your teeth.

Saving Natural Teeth
Although it is possible in some cases to replace an extracted tooth with an implant or bridgework, Americans have strong negative feelings about losing their natural teeth.

  • In a recent AAE survey, 76 percent of participants said they would prefer a root canal to tooth extraction.
  • Nearly a third would not sell a healthy front tooth for any amount of money.
  • Most people are not aware that root canal treatment is a viable alternative to tooth extraction.
  • Older individuals are much more likely than younger individuals to have experienced a tooth extraction.
  • Women are more likely than men to have had a tooth extraction.
  • More than half (58 percent) of those who have had a tooth extracted did not replace it with anything; the remainder replaced the tooth with a bridge (17 percent), dentures (12 percent) or an implant (8 percent).
  • Artificial teeth can limit your ability to chew certain foods necessary to maintaining a balanced diet.

About the AAE
The American Association of Endodontists, headquartered in Chicago, Ill., represents more than 8,000 members worldwide. Endodontics is one of nine dental specialties formally recognized by the American Dental Association. The AAE, founded in 1943, is dedicated to excellence in the art and science of endodontics and to the highest standard of patient care. The Association inspires its members to pursue professional advancement and personal fulfillment through education, research, advocacy, leadership, communication and service.

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