In most cases, a root canal procedure is sufficient to completely resolve any issues with a tooth. With proper care, treated teeth can last just as long as natural teeth. However, there are some situations where treated teeth fail to heal properly or new problems arise and root canal retreatment is necessary.
If you start experiencing pain, swelling, or discomfort in teeth which have previously had a root canal, you may need endodontic retreatment. More serious cases may call for surgery. Unfortunately, the only other alternative treatment is extraction of the tooth. While you could restore the appearance of your smile, only endodontic retreatment will let you keep your natural tooth right where it belongs.
Why Does Endodontic Root Canal Retreatment Occur?
There are a number of reasons why you may be experiencing problems with previously treated teeth. In some cases, a complex canal structure went unnoticed in the first procedure, particularly if it was done long ago with older equipment.
Canals that are significantly thin or curved are more difficult to treat. The final restoration of the tooth may not have completely sealed off the canals, allowing saliva to carry bacteria and debris inside the tooth. You may also be experiencing new problems unrelated to a previous root canal.
Tooth decay might progress over time, causing new changes in the structure of your teeth and introducing contaminants. A trauma to the mouth might also cause new damage to the tooth which may be resolved with endodontic retreatment depending on severity of the damage.
What to Expect During Endodontic Root Canal Retreatment
During your retreatment appointment, we will reopen the affected tooth. Local anesthetic will be applied to the area, numbing the tooth. Restoration materials like crowns, posts, or fillings may be disassembled and removed.
The rest of the process is similar to that of a typical root canal. The canals will be thoroughly examined and cleaned. The endodontist will make particular note of any additional canals, branches, or new cracks. If the structure of the canal is particularly complex, or restorative material such as a large post is present, surgery may be recommended to fully resolve the issue. The endodontist will then fill the root canals with gutta-percha and seal them to prevent saliva from entering. The hole in the tooth will be closed with a temporary filling.
Endodontic retreatments may be more complex than the initial procedure and may take longer, but patients are still pretty comfortable during treatment. Mild discomfort is common for a few days after the procedure, but it usually requires only over-the-counter pain management. Patients can drive home from their appointment without assistance and resume their normal routine without delay.
Patients will need to make a follow up appointment for the final restoration of the tooth, which typically involves placing a crown or permanent filling. Until the tooth has been properly sealed, avoid biting using the affected tooth. Once the restoration is complete, the tooth should have full function and appear the same as any other natural tooth. With appropriate care, your treated teeth can last a lifetime. Putting in the effort to save your natural teeth can allow you to eat freely and preserve your happy, healthy smile.