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When it comes to your oral health, saving your natural tooth is usually the most desirable option whenever possible. That is why preventing tooth decay and cavities is the goal of your daily brushing and flossing oral hygiene care. Still, there are times when a root canal is needed to stop an infection in the soft oral tissues of a tooth (pulp) and relieve tooth pain.

If you have had a root canal some time ago and are now experiencing problems with the tooth, you may need retreatment. You might have tooth pain or recently had a dental exam where X-rays detected infection around the tooth’s roots. The good news is, a retreated tooth can serve you well for years, even a lifetime!

Endodontic Retreatment

Thanks to ongoing developments in dental technology, root canal treatments have changed over the years. Today’s endodontists have access to newer techniques that may not have been around when you had your first root canal done.

If you have a failed root canal and don’t have it retreated, you will more than likely need to remove the damaged tooth. In this case, you’ll also need to replace the lost tooth to maintain proper chewing function and to prevent neighboring teeth from shifting into the space, potentially altering your bite pattern.

This may mean having a dental implant, bridge or removable partial denture installed. The cost of these options and the time to implement them is higher than having a root canal retreatment to fix the damaged tooth. Even so, tooth replacements aren’t always as good as your natural teeth.

Why Have an Endodontic Retreatment

If your original root canal didn’t heal properly a retreatment can usually help. For example, some of the curved or narrow canals may have been skipped in the original treatment because they were too deep or went undetected. It’s also possible that the affected canals didn’t respond to the treatment. Perhaps the follow-up restoration (crown, etc.) was delayed or ineffectively done after the initial root canal. It’s also possible that the treatment didn’t keep out salivary contamination in the tooth, leading to reinfection.

In the case of a tooth that was treated successfully, there are still complications that could threaten the tooth. For instance, if there’s decay going on in the tooth, bacteria can get into the root canal filling material and infect the tooth. Or, perhaps the tooth has a fracture allowing bacterial contamination to get in. A tooth can also become infected if the crown is damaged or if a crown or dental filling has become loose, broken or cracked.

What to Expect With a Root Canal Retreatment

For your current root canal retreatment, you will be made comfortable and anesthetized so that our endodontist can go in and reopen the affected tooth. The previous filling materials will be taken out and an evaluation will be done to detect infection. Any new infection will be cleaned out of the pulp chambers using delicate instruments. Then the canals can be shaped and new filling materials added. A temporary filling will seal the opening while the tooth heals after which a dental restoration can be placed to protect the tooth.

Our endodontic team is here to help you save your natural teeth for a healthier smile. If you are having problems with a previously treated tooth, we encourage you to schedule an appointment for an evaluation with our endodontist. We look forward to helping you maintain your healthy smile!