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Root Canal Treatment Can Improve Quality of Life
June 5, 2014

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Root-canal treatment isn't something that most people look forward to. But not only can the treatment save a tooth – it also can improve a person's quality of life.

A study from China found that getting root-canal treatment improved people's scores on a common quality-of-life survey. People answered questions just before treatment. One month and six months after treatment, they answered the same questions.

The survey includes 14 questions that ask about the effects of a person's oral health on:

  • Eating
  • Speaking
  • Level of pain
  • Feeling self-conscious or embarrassed
  • Stress
  • Work productivity
  • General life satisfaction

Scores on the survey improved one month after root-canal treatment. Scores improved even more six months after treatment.

The authors say that most studies of root-canal treatment focus on whether it helps to save a tooth, rather than how it contributes to a person's overall well-being.

Root-canal treatment is done when a tooth's center, called the pulp, is infected or inflamed. This can happen because of decay, trauma, or a crack or chip in the tooth.

Signs that root-canal treatment might be needed can include:

  • Severe tooth pain, especially when chewing
  • High sensitivity of a tooth to hot or cold
  • Swelling and tenderness of gums near the tooth
  • A discolored (dark) tooth

During the treatment, a dentist removes the infected pulp, cleans and disinfects the center of the tooth and packs it with a rubber-like material. Then, the tooth is usually covered with a crown or cap. Root canal treatment takes one or two dental visits.

The study appears in the June issue of the Journal of Endodontics.

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