Uncertain Decision-Making in Primary Root Canal Treatment

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A systematic review of literature was conducted to compare the success and survivability of primary root canal interventions.


The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses protocol was adopted in this study to systematically assess and report systematic reviews related to success or survival or failure rates of primary root canal interventions. MEDLINE and Cochrane Oral Health Library were both searched by using specific search terms to identify relevant literature, until June 2016. The search was augmented by handsearching. Then, the quality of the included systematic reviews was assessed by using the Revised Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (RAMSTAR) protocol.


Only 9 systematic reviews were identified. The RAMSTAR scores of the included reviews ranged from 43/44 to 29/44. Nevertheless, the later reviews did not provide sufficient evidence or statistically significant evidence to support any of the interventions used during primary root canal treatment. In addition, a number of key steps during primary root canal treatment, such as types of dental files, root canal instrumentation techniques, orthograde obturation materials, and techniques, were not assessed by systematic reviews.


The current status of evidence related to the success and survivability of primary root canal interventions is lacking. This puts dentists under marked degrees of uncertainty. Consequently, patients are potentially exposed to health care risks. It is then essential to develop tailored methods and tools for decision-making under uncertainty to aid both dentists and patients engaged in primary root canal treatment.

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