Introduction: Root canal therapy is a commonly employed and effective dental treatment
often used to treat the symptom of intraoral pain. Unfortunately some patients experience
severe amounts of pain post-operatively, but it is not clear why. Methods: Using a
prospective observational study design within the Dental Practice Based Research
Network (DPBRN), we enrolled patients presenting for initial orthograde root canal
therapy. The patients and dentists completed questionnaires before, immediately after and
at 1-week following treatment. Descriptive statistics were used to assess study variables.
Results: Over 6 months, 708 subjects were enrolled within the practices of 62 dentists,
46 of who were generalists and 16 endodontists, and were typical of those in the U.S. At
baseline, 79% of patients were experiencing pain, with an average intensity of 5/10 (SD:
2.8), and 63% reported their pain interfered with daily activities. Necrosis was the most
common pulp diagnosis (49%), while symptomatic apical periodontitis was the most
common apical diagnosis (39%). Widespread pain was reported by 29% of patients.
Within the 1-week post-operative period, about 16% of patients reported experiencing
severe dental pain (≥7/10) and 6% reported experiencing severe pain and swelling.
Conclusions: Patients presenting for initial orthograde root canal therapy have a
significant amount of pain and pain-related interference in daily life. Severe postoperative pain was perceived in almost 1-in-6 patients treated.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. January 2012. Major: Clinical research. Advisors: Eric L. Schiffman, Mike T. John and James S. Hodges. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 62 pages.
Nixdorf, Donald Robert.
Pain and root canal therapy: exploring their relationships within the DPBRN..
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