Patients' Values Related to Treatment Options for Teeth with Apical Periodontitis

J Endod. 2016 Mar;42(3):365-70. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2015.11.022. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Introduction: This study aimed to explore patients' values when selecting treatment for a tooth with apical periodontitis (AP), namely retention via root canal treatment (RCT) and extraction without replacement or replacement with implant-supported crowns or fixed or removable partial prostheses.

Methods: Through 2 surveys of patients (800 university patients and 200 community patients, response rate = 43%) and dentists (498 Ontario endodontists, periodontists, prosthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, response rate = 40% and 1983 Ontario general dentists, response rate = 15%), the importance of values that might be considered important to patients when selecting treatment options for a tooth with AP were recorded. Chi-square and Kendall's tau tests were used to respectively compare the importance rating frequency by each surveyed group and its correlation to their demographic variables (P ≤ .05).

Results: Patients considered communication and trust (94%), tooth retention (90%), esthetic outcome (84% regardless of location), cost (83%), longevity (83%), and preoperative pain (81%) as the most important decision values. Dentists overrated the importance of patients' previous experience with the treatment options (94% vs. 72%), dental insurance (90% vs. 70%), and intraoperative pain (79% vs. 60%) while underestimating the importance of maintenance cost (60% vs. 79%).

Conclusions: Dentists should respect patients' views about esthetic outcome, longevity, and cost associated with treatment options for a tooth with AP. In particular, this survey highlights the value of communication and trust between patient and dentist and preservation of the natural tooth through RCT over implant-supported crown replacement when planning treatment for a tooth with AP.

Keywords: Apical periodontitis; dentist-patient relations; patient preference; personal autonomy; principle-based ethics; shared decision making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication
  • Decision Making*
  • Dental Prosthesis, Implant-Supported / psychology
  • Dentists
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Preference*
  • Periapical Periodontitis / psychology*
  • Periapical Periodontitis / therapy*
  • Root Canal Therapy / psychology
  • Tooth Extraction / psychology