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Int Endod J. 2010 Mar;43(3):171-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2591.2009.01671.x.

Tooth survival following non-surgical root canal treatment: a systematic review of the literature.

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Unit of Endodontology, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, London.



To investigate (i) the effect of study characteristics on reported tooth survival after root canal treatment (RCTx) and (ii) the effect of clinical factors on the proportion of root filled teeth surviving after RCTx.


Longitudinal human clinical studies investigating tooth survival after RCTx which were published up to the end of 2007 were identified electronically (MEDLINE and Cochrane database 1966-2007 December, week 4). In addition, four journals (Dental Traumatology, International Endodontic Journal, Journal of Endodontics, Oral Surgery Oral Medicine Oral Pathology Oral Radiology & Endodontics), bibliographies of all relevant articles and review articles were hand searched. Two reviewers (Y-LN, KG) assessed and selected the studies based on specified inclusion criteria and extracted the data onto a pre-designed proforma, independently. The criteria were as follows: (i) clinical study on RCTx; (ii) stratified analysis of primary and secondary RCTx available; (iii) sample size given and larger than 10; (iv) at least 6-month postoperative review; (v) success based on survival of tooth; and (vi) proportion of teeth surviving after treatment given or could be calculated from the raw data. Three strands of evidence or analyses were used to triangulate a consensus view. The reported findings from individual studies, including those excluded for quantitative analysis, were utilized for the intuitive synthesis, which constituted the first strand of evidence. Secondly, the pooled weighted proportion of teeth surviving and thirdly the combined effects of potential prognostic factors were estimated using the fixed and random effects meta-analyses on studies fulfilling all the inclusion criteria.


Of the 31 articles identified, 14 studies published between 1993 and 2007 were included. The majority of studies were retrospective (n = 10) and only four prospective. The pooled percentages of reported tooth survival over 2-3, 4-5 and 8-10 years following RCTx were 86% (95% CI: 75%, 98%), 93% (95% CI: 92%, 94%) and 87% (95% CI: 82%, 92%), respectively. Substantial differences in study characteristics were found to hinder effective direct comparison of findings. Evidence for the effect of prognostic factors on tooth survival was weak. Based on the data available for meta-analyses, four conditions were found to significantly improve tooth survival. In descending order of influence, the conditions increasing observed proportion of survival were as follows: (i) a crown restoration after RCTx; (ii) tooth having both mesial and distal proximal contacts; (iii) tooth not functioning as an abutment for removable or fixed prosthesis; and (iv) tooth type or specifically non-molar teeth. Statistical heterogeneity was substantial in some cases but its source could not be investigated because of insufficient available information.


The pooled proportion of teeth surviving over 2-10 years following RCTx ranged between 86% and 93%. Four factors (listed above) were identified as significant prognostic factors with concurrence between all three strands of evidence.

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