If you have had a root canal and are experiencing pain or other symptoms, you may need root canal retreatment. Although root canals are successful over 90% of the time, there are occasions when retreatment may be necessary. This is a procedure that is used to treat teeth that have undergone root canal therapy and are not healing properly. In this article, we will discuss what root canal retreatment is, the symptoms that may indicate that you need it, and the procedure itself. We will also discuss the possible risks and complications associated with root canal retreatment.
Why Would I Need Root Canal Retreatment?
There are a number of reasons why root canal retreatment may be necessary.
- Bacteria Still Finds Its Way Into the Tooth: The most common reason is that the root canal was not completely successful in eliminating all of the bacteria from the tooth. This can happen if the root canal was not performed properly, or if there is a small crack in the tooth that allows bacteria to enter.
- Root Canal Wasn’t Completely Filled: Another common reason for root canal retreatment is inadequate root canal filling. This can happen if the root canal was not properly cleaned, or if the root canal filling material was not placed correctly.
- Improper Seal In Your Tooth Crown: In some cases, root canal retreatment may be necessary due to an improper seal at the tooth crown (the part visible in your mouth). This can happen if the tooth crown was not placed correctly.
- Roots Were Missed: Occasionally, root canal retreatment may be necessary because the root canal was not performed properly and one or more of the tooth roots were missed. This typically occurs in your molar teeth which have roots that can be extremely curvy or narrow.
- Procedural Errors By the Dentist: In some cases, root canal retreatment may be necessary due to procedural errors by the dentist. This can happen if the access cavity was not properly made, or if the root canal instruments were not used correctly.
How Does a Dentist Decide if I Need Root Canal Retreatment?
It can be very hard for a dentist or endodontist (root specialist) to know if root canal retreatment is necessary. Typically, a dentist will consider the following criteria to decide if root canal retreatment is necessary:
Why Did The Original Root Canal Fail?
The dentist will try to determine why the root canal failed in the first place. If the root canal was not performed correctly, or if there were procedural errors, then retreatment is more likely to be successful. However, if your original root canal failed because the dentist was physically unable to reach your roots during the procedure, a root canal retreatment would probably not fair any better. In cases like this endodontic surgery may be a better option.
What Does an X-Ray Say?
X-rays are often used to help determine if root canal retreatment is necessary. In some cases, an x-ray may show that the root canal was poorly obturated, aka filled. In other cases, an x-ray may show that there is still infection present around the root. Depending on what the x-ray shows, root canal retreatment may be recommended.
Having a Discussion With the Patient
At the end of the day, once a dentist completely gives their assessment, they will sit down with the patient and have a discussion. This is to ensure that the patient understands what root canal retreatment entails, as well as the potential risks and benefits. Once that has occurred, the decision to retreat the root canal will be left up to the patient.
What Are the Steps of Root Canal Retreatment
Removal of Original Root Canal
The first step of root canal retreatment is to remove the original root canal filling. This is done using a small drill, and special care is taken to not damage the root canal tissue. Typically a dentist will have to take a part the crown of your tooth, any posts that were placed, and the root canal filling.
Cleaning of the Canal
The root canal tissue is then cleaned and shaped using special root canal instruments. The dentist will make sure to include any root canals that were missed the first time around. The root canal is then flushed with an antiseptic solution to help kill any remaining bacteria.
Sealing of the Canal
Once the root canal is clean and bacteria-free, it is then sealed. The dentist will make sure that all root canals are sealed before placing a temporary filling in the tooth. This will only be in place until the permanent tooth crown can be placed.
Placing a Permanent Crown
The final step is to place a permanent tooth crown. The crown of your tooth is the visible part that is above the gum line. In some cases, a root canal retreatment can be completed in one visit. However, in more complex cases, it may take two or three visits.
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No two mouths are the same, and each oral situation is unique. As such, it isn’t possible to give comprehensive advice or diagnose oral conditions based on articles alone. The best way to ensure you’re getting the best dental care possible is to visit a dentist in person for an examination and consultation.