Can a Root Canal Cause Problems Years Later?

With proper care, even teeth that have undergone endodontic treatment can last a lifetime. However, sometimes, a tooth that has been treated doesn't heal properly and can become painful or sick months or even years after treatment.

Root canals

fail when the original treatment doesn't eliminate all of the infection or the tooth becomes infected again. It can take weeks, months, or even years before a failed root canal comes to the surface.

You may recognize the symptoms of the infection, such as tooth discoloration, pimples on your gums, or swelling, because you've already undergone endodontic treatment once. When a root canal is not successful, symptoms may return a few months to a few years later. Sometimes, endodontic retreatment offers relief and helps restore balance and health. The European Journal of Dentistry found that the overall success rate of endodontics and other endodontic treatments ranges from 86 to 98%.

Some patients worry that if the root canal treatment they had years ago wasn't successful, the same thing is likely to happen again. According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), an endodontist typically performs 25 root canals per week, while a general dentist usually performs only two. If endodontics was unsuccessful, x-rays can guide the endodontist in determining the best course of action and treatment plan. The endodontist removes the pulp from the infected tooth, disinfects it and reseals it during a root canal.

While not all endodontic therapies work, you can explore options to aid healing if you've had a failed endodontic treatment. Even when every step of the procedure goes smoothly, a tooth that is treated with a root canal can experience prolonged sensitivity or reinfection. Worst of all, I decided not to go back to the dentist who did my endodontic treatment because he wasn't careful. Unfortunately, if the root canal fails and the tooth becomes infected again, that infection won't go away on its own.

These symptoms indicate that there may be a problem with the tooth pulp, which is the inner part of the tooth treated by an endodontic procedure. A successful endodontic treatment saves the natural tooth and extends its life to match other healthy teeth. Because root canal insufficiency can sometimes be difficult to see with the naked eye, x-rays can help endodontists diagnose and treat faulty endodontics. We can evaluate root canal treatment failures and help save your natural tooth if there is an option to re-treat it.

Some patients show no symptoms of a failed root canal, while others may look different than they did before the first root canal.