When a tooth that already had a root canal treatment starts to hurt again, the patient’s first question is usually: “What happened?” It is certainly disappointing to return to the dental chair for a second procedure. Unfortunately, the interior of the teeth are very complex, and an infection may be very persistent. In this case, a root canal retreatment is necessary to determine the cause of the problem and to fix it. The Marconi Dental Group performs this procedure for root canal treatments originally performed in our practice, as well as those completed elsewhere.

Why Did My Root Canal Get Reinfected?

There are a number of reasons that explain a failed root canal treatment. To understand this, it is important to realize that the typical illustration of a tooth is quite oversimplified. Anatomical images of teeth typically show just one or two large canals going from the pulp chamber down into the roots. While those large canals are there, they are like the two main highways going through Sacramento. Branching off from those highways are many, many other roadways. In the same way, your tooth has many smaller canals branching off the larger ones. With that thought in mind, here are the main reasons why an endodontic procedure might fail.

  • A narrow branching canal was missed and not treated during the first procedure.
  • A curve in a canal was not detected the first time and infected pulp was left behind.
  • Part of a canal was filled with bony material (calcified), hiding the infected part further on.
  • Installing a crown was delayed, allowing damage to the temporary plug in the root canal.
  • Restoration material did not fill the canals completely or did not seal the canals properly.

A root canal can also fail for reasons that are unconnected to the original procedure. A crown can only protect a tooth if a patient practices daily oral hygiene and visits the dentist regularly. Otherwise, a treated tooth can fail again due to new decay or damage to the tooth.

If the crown is damaged due to tooth grinding, trauma, accident or other factors, the root canal may get reinfected.

If the tooth becomes fractured, the interior of the tooth is again exposed and the tooth may have to be removed.

During any endodontic procedure, our endodontist or dentist may see that your tooth has complications that were not apparent in an x-ray or during the first treatment. In this case, the root canal procedure stops and the tooth must be extracted. As x-ray technology improves, the need to end procedures midway decreases.

As always, the benefit of any endodontic procedure, including root canal retreatment, is that you keep your original tooth. This is better for your jawbone and your appearance and is generally the most economical method to deal with an infected tooth. For a consultation on your tooth and whether root canal retreatment is an option, please contact the helpful dentists at the Marconi Dental Group.

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