With the appropriate care, your teeth that have had endodontic treatment will last
as long as other natural teeth. Yet, a tooth that has received treatment may fail to
heal or pain may continue to exist. Sometimes, the pain may occur months or years after
treatment. If so, Endodontic Retreatment may be needed.
Improper healing may be caused by:
Curved or narrow canals were not treated during the initial treatment.
- Complicated canals went undetected during the initial treatment.
- The crown or restoration was not placed within the appropriate amount of time following the procedure.
- The crown or restoration did not prevent saliva from contaminating the inside of the tooth.
In some cases, new problems can influence a tooth that was successfully treated:
New decay can expose a root canal filling material, causing infection.
- A cracked or loose filling or crown can expose the tooth to new infection.
What will happen during retreatment?
First, the endodontist will discuss your treatment options. If you and your endodontist choose
retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth to gain access to the root canal filling material.
In many cases, complex restorative materials - crowns, post, and core material - must be disassembled
and removed to permit access to the root canal.
After removing the canal filling, the endodontist can clean the canals and carefully examine the inside
of your tooth, carefully searching for any additional canals or unusual anatomy that requires treatment.
After cleaning the canal(s), the endodontist will fill and seal the canal(s), and place a temporary
filling in the tooth*. Post space may also be prepared at this time.
After the final visit with your endodontist, you will need to return to your dentist as soon as possible to
have a new crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.
* If the canals are unusually narrow or blocked, your endodontist may recommend endodontic surgery. This surgery
involves making an incision near the end of the root to allow the tip of the root to be sealed.
Is retreatment the best choice for me?
Retreated teeth can function well for years, even for a lifetime. It's always best to save the tooth if your
endodontist believes retreatment is the best option for you.
Advances in technology are constantly changing the way root canal treatment is performed, so your
endodontist may even be able to use a new technique that was not available when you had your first
procedure. If your tooth has unusual anatomy that was not cleaned and sealed during the first procedure,
your endodontist may be able to resolve this problem with a second treatment.
Of course, there are no guarantees with any dental or medical procedure. Your endodontist will discuss
your options and the chances of success before beginning retreatment.
What are the alternatives to retreatment?
For some patients considering retreatment, endodontic surgery is also an option. This surgery involves
making an incision near the end of the root to allow the tip of the root to be sealed. Endodontic surgery
may be recommended in conjunction with retreatment or as an alternative. Your endodontist will discuss
your options and recommend appropriate treatment.
The only other alternative is extraction of the tooth. The extracted tooth must then be replaced with
an implant, bridge, or removable partial denture to restore the chewing function and to prevent adjacent
teeth from shifting. Because these options require extensive surgery or dental procedures on adjacent
healthy teeth, they can be far more costly and time consuming than retreatment and restoration of the
No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are - and they can be very effective - nothing is as
good as your natural tooth. You've already made an investment in saving your tooth. The payoff for
choosing retreatment could be a healthy, functioning natural tooth for many years to come.