Endodontic Retreatment: When Root Canals Fail

As with any dental or medical procedure, occasionally, endodontic treatment does not live up to its expected results and the root has to undergo retreatment. You may have noticed pain in the tooth or you may have no pain at all. Either way, with detailed imaging, we can see when root canal therapy has failed and when it is time for retreatment.

Endodontic RetreatmentWhy does it happen? Some of the most common reasons for a root canal to fail include:

  • Narrow canals: If your canals are too narrow or curved, this may have made it difficult for the original procedure to be performed thoroughly.
  • Inadequate Seal: After cleaning a root canal, we fill it with a restorative material. If that material doesn’t make a complete seal, reinfection is possible.
  • Complicated Anatomy: If your canals are shaped abnormally, the original treatment may have missed areas that needed cleaning.
  • Delayed Restoration: If there was a delay between the initial treatment and the placing of the crown or other restoration, reinfection may have occurred.
  • New Decay, Cracks or Fractures can introduce new infections into the root area.

Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Retreatment

Our first choice is always to save your natural tooth using the least invasive means possible. Natural teeth are far superior to their artificial counterparts when it comes to nutrition, lifestyle, aesthetics and the long-term health of your jaw.

During endodontic retreatment, we will need to essentially “reopen” your tooth to access the root area, removing the original restoration in the process. If your canals are too narrow or obstructed, we may need to perform an apicoectomy (surgical treatment) instead of a traditional, non-surgical root canal.

And, lastly, if neither of these methods presents a viable option to save your tooth, really our only other course of action is to remove the tooth. Since the removal of a tooth causes additional restoration work down the road, which can be more expensive, we always try to save the tooth first!

If you are experiencing pain in a tooth that previously underwent root canal therapy, give us a call! We can help you decide if retreatment is right for you!