Will I need a root canal if I'm going to get complete dentures?

Not usually. A complete denture is used when you have no teeth remaining. It completely replaces all your teeth. However, sometimes you can use remaining teeth to support your denture. That would be an overdenure (over-your-teeth) and in that case your remaining teeth may need root canals.

Usually, a root canal treatment would not be necessary for someone whose ultimate treatment plan is to get a set of complete dentures. This is because the function of a root canal is to remove and prevent further infection in the root of a tooth that is to be retained in the mouth. In complete dentures, normally all the teeth and their roots are extracted.
However, in certain circumstances, a dentist may wish to retain the root and a portion of the outer or crown part of the tooth to help with retention or stability of the full denture. This is known as an overdenture, meaning the denture fits "over" parts of remaining teeth. In most cases, these remaining tooth roots supporting an overdenture will need to have root canal treatments and be sealed with a bonded or cast metal restoration to prevent any chances of infection later on.

With the advent of implant technology, this "overdenture" procedure isn't done as commonly as it used to be because implants can "anchor" a full denture better and with less chance of subsequent infection.

If you are getting complete dentures, that implies that all of your teeth are either missing or are going to be extracted. If you have no teeth, a root canal will not be needed.

In most cases, a complete denture would mean the removal of all teeth. Unless you are having a root saved for something such as an overdenture or to preserve the bone for another purpose, there would be no need for a root canal. 
Complete dentures replace all the natural teeth with artificial ones. If you have all your natural teeth replaced then a root canal is not necessary. If however your dentist is prescribing an overdenture, then some teeth roots are left in the jaw to help stabilize the denture. In this case the retained roots should be treated with root canal fillings.

The overdenture theory is a traditional option usually best for a lower denture. The retained roots help preserve the bony ridge and may be a better option than the more expensive implant-retained denture.
Dan Jenkins
I agree with the answers already provided. The few reasons you might need to have a root canal could be answered by your dentist -- if you are in need of having full dentures.

If you still have questions about this you should discuss this with your dentist.

A complete denture means that all of your teeth are replaced by the denture. Generally a root canal is not necessary since all your teeth will be extracted. In the past, a treatment did exist however, when two teeth (especially in the lower jaw) would be treated with root canal therapy and left as a "stud" onto which a denture could be snapped on. This is rarely done in modern dentistry due to concerns about strength and durability of those remaining teeth. Typically, if a denture is to be made and you wish for it to be more stable and comfortable, dental implants will be placed in the jawbone which will then serve as the "studs".


Ned Nippoldt

For many patients with complete dentures, they have all of their natural teeth removed and so would not need a root canal. Sometimes, however, an overdenture is made that fits over a bar that is attached to a few of the patient's natural teeth. If an overdenture is made, then any of the natural teeth remaining in the mouth may need a root canal.    

The first question to ask here is: Are you sure they are COMPLETE dentures? Complete in this case means entire as in your "entire" arch (top or bottom) or "entire" mouth (top and bottom. If that is the case then no there is no need to have root canal treatment on a tooth that will be extracted. However, if any of the teeth are being retained as anchor teeth for the denture then it may be necessary to perform root canal therapy on these teeth. If the teeth have no issues (decay or infection) then root canal therapy is not necessary.

Most likely not. By definition, complete dentures mean that you have lost ALL of your teeth and the dentures will COMPLETELY replace your teeth and the supporting structures (gums and bone) that used to hold your teeth in your mouth.

In certain instances, certain teeth will be retained and used as abutments to support or retain your dentures. In these cases, root canals are sometimes needed. However, the dentures that you would then receive would be referred to as partial dentures or overdentures, and not complete dentures.

Complete dentures requires the removal of all teeth in the mouth. Root canal treatment is only performed on a tooth. Without teeth, there is no need for a root canal.

Generally, when you are receiving a full denture you would have or be having all of your teeth removed and thus would not have any teeth remaining to have root canal therapy. However, sometimes you and your dentist may determine that you would benefit by having some way of making a new denture more solid or stable in order to keep it from moving around. One way of providing this stability is by making an overdenture that rests on or attaches to something underneath of it. This could be either a natural tooth or a dental implant. When a natural tooth (or in most cases two or more teeth) is kept it has the nerve removed by root canal therapy so that it can have most of the tooth that sticks up out of the gum removed to allow the denture to fit over it. These retained roots can either provide a base for the denture to rest on or, better yet they can have some form of attachment (e.g. ball and sockets or magnets) that will really keep the denture stable during eating and talking. these roots also help keep the bone thicker and stronger to help support the denture. This treatment has lost some popularity in recent years as dental implants are providing longer-lasting, more predictable treatment outcomes in these situations.

If "complete dentures" involve the retention of the roots of teeth, then yes. This type of denture is called an "overdenture", meaning it will be a complete/full denture 'over' existing roots. Typically, roots will have attachments that will aid in the retention of the denture. A root canal is required in order to place a post which will have an attachment connected to it.

If you still have some remaining healthy, natural teeth and your dentist will be making an overdenture, it's likely that you'll need a root canal. During a root canal, a doctor removes the pulp (the tooth's nerve) and replaces it with a filling. This way, the tooth is less sensitive when it's time for the dentist to shorten and shape the tooth to fit under the denture. If your teeth aren't healthy enough to keep, it's likely that the dentist will have to remove them completely.
Most of the time completed dentures are made to replace teeth when all the teeth are missing in the mouth. However, when teeth are missing, the bone underneath can resorb or shrink which in turn can cause the denture to get loose in time. 

Sometimes, some teeth can be saved with root canal treatment that can help support the denture. The roots have an attachment that the denture snaps into to help stabilize it. This type of denture is called an over denture. Keeping the root part of the tooth with root canal treatment can help to keep the bone from shrinking and help to prevent the denture from loosening.
Complete dentures usually means there are no teeth left, so, no, you don't need a root canal.

If, however, a tooth is being retained as an anchor for the denture, then a root canal would be necessary.
Yohan Kim, DMD
Complete dentures by definition mean dentures that cover the whole arch of the mouth (it can be upper or lower arch of the mouth). So, that means you don't have any remaining teeth in the arch and therefore, you don't need root canals since you don't have any teeth left. Possibly you might have a complete denture on the top arch and partial denture on the bottom. Then, you might have remaining teeth that might need root canal. Or another scenario could be that you are getting root-retained over dentures. If that's the situation, you need root canal on those remaining teeth.

My suggestion will be you talk to your dentist and make sure you understand the  treatment you're getting and clarify to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.
All remaining teeth are removed prior to receiving complete dentures, therefore root canals, which are intended to save teeth, wouldn't be necessary.  
Sometimes roots of teeth are saved to help hold dentures in place. If a root is saved, it will need a root canal. Magnets or snap on attachments can be placed in the denture to attach to the roots of the teeth that are saved. These saved roots can give the denture more stability.
It depends on how "complete" the word "complete" is. If it means all teeth will be removed and you will have dentures 100%, no, then a root canal would not be necessary. However, sometimes "complete" dentures still have an anchor tooth or two -- if this is the case (and that tooth is the root canal tooth in question), then yes, if it needs it, get the root canal.

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