Endodontic treatment is a procedure that can be repeated two or more times on the same tooth. While teeth that have undergone this type of treatment can last a lifetime, some may not heal properly due to salivary contamination or other reasons. In such cases, a dentist may recommend a second endodontic treatment, known as retreatment, to save the tooth. However, subsequent root canal treatments may not always be the best option.
Endodontically treated teeth can last a lifetime, but some may not heal properly or develop new problems months or even years after the initial treatment. In such cases, retreatment may be the best option to save the tooth. It is important to note that reinfection can occur weeks, months, or even years after the original endodontic treatment. Sometimes, nonsurgical retreatment is not an option and endodontic surgery may be the best alternative to an extraction.
Root canals are designed to save severely damaged or infected teeth and with proper care, a tooth that has been treated with a root canal can last a lifetime. However, while this treatment is more than 95% successful, there is a remote chance that your dentist will recommend that you have your treatment done again. Here's why you might need a new endodontic treatment and what you can expect when repairing your smile. Another factor to consider is whether your tooth is still in the same condition it was when you had your first root canal. If your tooth was damaged during the procedure or due to a secondary infection, it may not be able to be restored with a second root canal.
It's also a concern if gum disease progresses enough to endanger the tooth. In that case, a root canal may not be a good idea and you will need to treat gum disease before receiving a dental implant. The roots can fracture or crack deep inside the gum, making it difficult to completely seal the root canal during the procedure. If they cannot reach and thoroughly clean the tooth canal, the root canal will fail. Whether a second root canal is better than a dental implant depends on why your root canal failed in the first place. Because of these and other possible complications, a new root canal treatment can be more expensive than a first-time procedure.
Although a dentist may perform a second or third or more endodontic treatment on a tooth, the results are unpredictable. A retreatment procedure involves removing the original contents of the crown and canals and exploring the tooth and the remaining internal root structure. At that time, the patient returns and the root canals are once again filled with endodontic filling material and a restorative crown is placed on top of the tooth. When a root canal is not successful, symptoms may return weeks to years later. If there is an obstruction in the teeth such as a filling or other tooth that prevents the dentist from fully performing the procedure, it can result in a failed root canal. And if an experienced dentist were to perform the first endodontic treatment, it is possible that even with their expertise, the second one might not work. The American Association of Endodontists (AAE) identified several circumstances that sometimes prevent healing after treating a tooth with endodontics. A successful endodontic treatment saves the natural tooth and extends its life to match other healthy teeth.
Even if you're still trusting your dentist (and they're not referring you to a specialist which might also be appropriate), it's still wise to get a second opinion on the condition of your tooth and if a dental implant or endodontic treatment is best for follow-up. While Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) can provide more information about why new treatment may be needed, sometimes an endodontist must return to the tooth and look for possible causes that would prevent original root canal from healing. If you see any of these symptoms listed above, it's likely that you have failed root canal and need to seek treatment as soon as possible.