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New Study Shows Root Canal Treatment’s Bad Rap May Become a Thing of the Past

CHICAGO – Have you ever heard the phrase, "worse than a root canal?" Chances are you have, but thanks likely to modern advancements in technology and the advanced training of root canal specialists known as endodontists, it turns out that cliché analogy may not ring as true as you think.

According to a recent study from the University of Adelaide, root canal treatment is perceived as no worse than other dental procedures. The report, authored by Dr. Tallen Chew, was published in the Journal of Endodontics (JOE).

More than 15 million root canals are treated yearly. Dr. Chew's study was comprised of self-reported data from 1,096 randomly selected Australian patients ages 30 to 61.

The JOE article stated that literature assessing quality of life for subjects who have undergone root canal treatment (RCT) is scarce. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the effect of RCT with other dental services (exodontia, restorative, prosthodontics, periodontics, and negative controls [preventative and scale and clean]) on oral health–related quality of life.

The study concluded that the RCT group presented with similar oral health–related quality of life when compared with the other individual treatment groups.

"Contrary to assumed popular belief, root canals have come a long way, and they are nothing to fear," said Dr. Keith V. Krell, President of the American Association of Endodontists. "The procedure, when performed by an endodontist, can help alleviate a patient's tooth pain. Such treatment also helps save a patient's natural tooth versus costlier alternatives like extraction or implants."

Endodontists are highly skilled dental specialists in diagnosing and treating tooth pain and performing root canal treatment. Along with two or more years of advanced training beyond dental school, endodontists have incredible precision and hand-eye coordination, making them highly skilled in performing complex treatments. They use the most specialized and advanced technology to treat tooth pain and perform root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment is an often-straightforward procedure to relieve dental pain and save patients' natural teeth. Patients typically need a root canal when there is inflammation or infection in the roots of a tooth. During root canal treatment, an endodontist carefully removes the pulp inside the tooth, cleans, disinfects and shapes the root canals, and places a filling to seal the space. The treatment alleviates tooth pain and can be a much better alternative to replacing one's actual tooth.

"Our teeth are a doorway to nutrition, a sign of emotion and a signal of overall good health," Dr. Krell continued. "Modern root canal treatment helps save patients' teeth and no one is better equipped or trained to help a patient than an endodontist. Have no fear!"


About the American Association of Endodontists:
The American Association of Endodontists (AAE). The AAE is headquartered in Chicago and 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. For more information about the AAE, visit the Association's website at For more patient focused information, visit