In rare cases, root canal therapy fails to work as expected. The treated tooth might not heal properly or a patient might experience post-treatment complications that jeopardize the tooth. Root canal retreatment involves the removal of the previous root canal material, the cleansing of the root canals, and the re-packing of the tooth. In short, root canal retreatment is almost identical to the original procedure, aside from the structural removal.
Root canal treatments and retreatments are a better alternative than extraction for most individuals. If a tooth has good bone support, a solid surface and healthy gums beneath it, it stands a good chance of being saved. Opting for root canal retreatment can be far less expensive than the alternatives. Dental implants, extensive bridgework and the creation of aesthetically pleasing prosthetic teeth cost far more than working with the natural tooth. They also require maintenance and feel less natural than a “real” tooth.
Why is root canal retreatment required?
Though the prospect of more endodontic treatment might not be pleasant, root canal retreatment is fairly simple. In general, the whole treatment can be completed in 1-2 visits.
There are a number of reasons why root canal therapy unexpectedly fails, including:
- Crowns that lose their seal and are leaking.
- Curved or narrow canals not treated during the original procedure.
- Delay in the placement of a permanent restoration following the procedure.
- New decay to the tooth.
- New fracture in the treated tooth.
- Saliva entering the restorative structure.
- Undetected complex canal structures.
What does root canal retreatment involve?
On the day of the retreatment procedure a local anesthetic will be administered. The affected tooth is isolated with a rubber dam. The dam protects the tooth during treatment from bacteria and saliva. The amount the dentist can do within a single appointment will much depend on the amount of inflammation present, and the complexity of the treatment.
The first step in a root canal retreatment is to gain access to the inner tooth. If a crown is present, an access hole will be made. If a post is present, it will be removed. Any other filling material in the tooth is removed as well.
Next, filling material and obstructions that block the root canals will be removed. This removal is conducted using an ultrasonic handpiece. The advantage of using this tool is that any unwanted material is vibrated loose. Tiny instruments will then be used to clean and reshape the root canals. X-rays may be taken to ensure that the roots are thoroughly clean. If this part of the treatment proves to be complex, medicated packing material will be applied, and the rest of the cleansing procedure will be done at the next visit.
When the dentist is confident that the root canals are completely clean, gutta-percha is used to pack the space. This rubbery material seals the canals to prevent bacterial invasion. Finally, a temporary crown or filling is applied to the tooth. Your next visit would then be with your general dentist to have a permanent restoration placed.
If you have any questions or concerns about root canal retreatment, please feel free to call us.