The crusade to save natural teeth
May 24, 2023
Root canals may not be thought of as life-saving procedures, but they are undeniably tooth-saving ones.
The average adult loses about seven teeth
between the ages of 20 to 64 and 26% of adults
aged 65 or older have eight or fewer natural teeth left. The loss occurs largely through untreated tooth decay, disease or injury.
Unsurprisingly, a 2022 public survey by the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) found that 87% of Americans
wish they had taken better care of their teeth. While the prevalence of partial and total tooth loss in adults has decreased by more than 30%
since the late 1990s, endodontists like Nikita Ruparel
are looking to keep tooth loss trending downward.
“Endodontists are dentists who have specialized knowledge in treating dental pain and infections and are committed to saving teeth,” said Ruparel, DDS, MS, PhD, associate professor of endodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s School of Dentistry.
“Two-thirds of the dental emergencies we see are related to symptomatic irreversible pulpitis (inflamed pulp tissue) and abscesses (swelling). We work to remove both inflamed and infected tissue of the tooth, therefore, treating the pain and the infection,” she said.
Root canals, the procedure used to remove the affected tissue, are preformed about 15 million times each year
in the U.S. alone. The technique has more than a 95% success rate in stopping infection, treating pain and saving teeth, said Ruparel.
“The procedure provides patients a better quality of life,” said Ruparel. “Many prosthetic alternatives are available, but natural teeth enable patients to keep the sensation and feeling they have of their teeth.”
During the month of May, the AAE shines a light on the tooth-saving root canal through its annual Save Your Tooth Month
, which aims to educate patients on the procedure and empower them with information on how to protect their natural teeth.
“Do all you can to save your teeth — see an endodontist
for pain relief,” urged Ruparel.
More information about our endodontists' tooth-saving services can be found on the UT Dentistry website