Is it Worth Having a Root Canal Retreatment?

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 may recommend that you have yours redone. If your tooth hasn't healed or has new problems, you have a second chance. It is possible that an additional procedure could aid healing and save the tooth.

Endodontic retreatment is similar to the original endodontic treatment, with a few differences. To access the root canal space, it may be necessary to first remove the crown, posts, and other restorative materials. The original root canal filling is then removed and the root canal space is re-cleaned and sealed. The goal of endodontic retreatment is to save the natural tooth, as with any other root canal. The dentist may repeat the root canal treatment on a tooth two or more times.

However, subsequent root canal treatments do not always make sense. The European Journal of Dentistry found that the overall success rate of endodontics and other endodontic treatments ranges from 86 to 98%. The procedure is likely to be more complex than the first endodontic treatment, since restorative and filling material may need to be removed to perform the new procedure. In many cases, complex restorative materials (crowns, posts and cores) must be dismantled and removed to allow access to the root canals. Permanent results can be achieved with a new endodontic treatment, in which the treated tooth functions properly throughout the patient's life.

After a new endodontic treatment, patients may experience pain, discomfort, and tenderness for a few days. And if the first endodontic treatment was performed by a highly qualified dentist, the second one may not work. The most common sign of a faulty root canal is pain, which may appear only when eating or biting, or persistent pain that doesn't go away. When a root canal is not successful, symptoms may return a few months to a few years later. Although high-angle ducts are rare, when they exist, they increase the likelihood that a repeat endodontic procedure will be needed.

Advances in technology are constantly changing the way root canal treatment is performed, so your endodontist can use new techniques that weren't available when your first procedure was performed. The endodontist removes the pulp from the infected tooth, disinfects it and reseals it during an endodontic treatment. Although a dentist may perform a second or third or more endodontic treatment on a tooth, the results are unpredictable. After removing the filling from the canal, the endodontist can clean them and carefully examine the inside of the tooth with augmentation and illumination, looking for any additional channels or unusual anatomy that requires treatment. The AAE identified several circumstances that sometimes prevent healing after treating a tooth with a root canal. Some patients worry that if the endodontic treatment they had years ago wasn't successful, the same thing is likely to happen again.

However, it's important to remember that advances in technology are constantly changing how root canal treatments are performed. Your endodontist can use new techniques that weren't available when your first procedure was performed. It's important to remember that while there are certain risks associated with endodontic retreatment, it can be an effective way to save your natural teeth. Patients can minimize these risks by following instructions before and after the procedure.