Root Canal Retreatment

Do You Need Root Canal Retreatment?

If you’ve had root canal therapy before, you may be wondering why you need to undergo the same process again. Sometimes, a root canal can get reinfected, which is where root canal retreatment comes in. Our Wasilla dentist breaks down this procedure and why it may be recommended as a treatment option.

What Is Root Canal Retreatment?

Root canal retreatment happens when the first root canal treatment has failed or wasn’t fully successful. It’s important to understand that root canals aren’t perfect procedures, and there are instances when complications arise even after initial treatment.

The primary purpose of a root canal is to eliminate tooth pain and save the natural tooth. When bacteria enter the pulp chamber, it causes inflammation and infection that results in severe pain. Root canal treatment removes the infected pulp while preserving the structure of the tooth. If a patient experiences recurring pain in a previously treated tooth, bacteria may have re-entered the tooth, requiring retreatment.

man visiting the dentist

Root Canal Retreatment Benefits

Patients may experience various benefits from root canal retreatment, including:

  • Pain Relief: Retreatment can eliminate discomfort or pain you might be experiencing if the initial root canal treatment didn’t completely heal the tooth or if an infection has set in.
  • Tooth Preservation: One of the biggest benefits of root canal retreatment is that it can save your natural tooth, which is often preferable to alternatives such as extraction and dental implants or bridges. This is because your natural tooth is generally stronger and more efficient at biting and chewing.
  • Cost-Effective: Over the long term, it can be more cost-effective to retreat a tooth rather than to extract it and replace it with a dental implant or bridge.
  • Prevent Spread of Infection: If the tooth has become reinfected, retreatment can help prevent the spread of the infection to other areas of your mouth or your overall health.
  • Improved Appearance: If the tooth has become discolored due to the initial infection or the previous root canal procedure, a root canal retreatment (possibly combined with teeth whitening or a dental crown) can help restore the tooth’s appearance.
  • Improved Oral Health: By saving the natural tooth, retreatment can also help maintain your overall oral health. This is because missing teeth can lead to problems such as shifting of the remaining teeth, bite problems, and bone loss in the jaw.
  • Correction of Prior Treatment Issues: Root canal retreatment can also resolve issues from the previous treatment, such as undetected canal branches, insufficient cleaning, or improper sealing of the canals.

Causes of Root Canal Retreatment

There are various reasons why you may require root canal retreatment. These factors can lead to pain in your previously treated tooth and threaten the overall oral health of your mouth.

  1. Initial Treatment Complications: A primary cause for root canal retreatment is when issues arise from the initial treatment. This can occur if there were complex anatomies within the tooth that weren’t addressed during the first procedure. The dentist may have missed one of the canals within the tooth, or pulp remnants may be left behind, leading to recurring pain or infection.
  2. Dental Fractures or Cracks: These can allow bacteria to enter and infect the tooth again. Delayed placement of crowns or restorations can also leave teeth exposed to bacteria that can weaken them over time, leading to more severe complications down the road.
  3. New Damage or Infections: Teeth undergo constant wear and tear throughout our lifetime, which means they’re susceptible to new damage or decay even after an initial root canal treatment. New cavities around existing fillings, periodontal disease, infections from gum disease, or external trauma can all lead to a re-infection of the tooth.

The Root Canal Retreatment Process

Retreatment of a previously treated tooth may be necessary due to different factors such as narrow or curved canals, complicated canal anatomy, salivary contamination, or undetected canal anatomy.

A root canal retreatment involves removing the filling material placed during the initial root canal procedure, cleaning the canals, and then filling them again to prevent further infection. The following steps are involved in a typical root canal retreatment procedure:

  1. Examination: The dentist will examine the tooth and surrounding area to determine whether retreatment is necessary. X-rays may be taken to examine the tooth’s roots and the extent of any infection.
  2. Anesthesia: Local anesthesia will be administered to numb the tooth and surrounding area.
  3. Removal of Filling Material: The dentist will remove the previous filling material placed during the initial root canal treatment.
  4. Cleaning and Shaping of Canals: Once the filling material has been removed, the dentist will clean out any infected tissue in the canals and shape them in preparation for filling.
  5. Filling of Canals: The cleaned and shaped canals are then filled with a biocompatible material, typically gutta-percha, and sealed with cement.
  6. Restoration: Depending on the extent of decay or damage before and after the retreatment procedure, your dentist may place a crown or other restoration on top of your tooth to protect it from further damage.

Post-Procedure Care and Measures

After undergoing root canal retreatment, it’s crucial to take care of your treated tooth to ensure a successful recovery. You may experience some discomfort and sensitivity in the area for a few days following the procedure, but this should subside gradually.

To promote healing, you should avoid chewing with the treated tooth until it has been fully restored with a permanent filling or crown. Maintain excellent oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly. If you experience any pain, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen but be sure to consult with your dentist before taking any medication.

It’s also essential to attend all follow-up appointments with your endodontist or general dentist to monitor your progress. They may recommend additional procedures such as a dental crown or other restorations to protect the treated tooth from further damage and ensure its longevity.

woman flossing her teeth at home

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do root canals need to be retreated?
How do I know my root canal is infected again?
Will I need a new dental crown after root canal retreatment?
How often do root canals need to be retreated?

A dentist may repeat root canal treatment on a tooth two or more times. While root canal therapy is widely successful after the first treatment, in some instances a tooth may not heal properly due to bacteria or other reasons, and need a root canal retreatment. 

How do I know my root canal is infected again?

Along with experiencing pain and discomfort, other symptoms of a reinfected root canal may include swollen gums, a dull persistent ache, a foul taste in the mouth, and yellow or green discharge. 

Will I need a new dental crown after root canal retreatment?

Yes, after your root canal retreatment you’ll need to have a new dental crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore its function. 

Save Your Tooth at Northwind Dental

Don’t let infection or reinfection cost you your natural tooth. If you’re experiencing symptoms of an infected root canal, contact our dentist in Wasilla, AK, today. Call our dental office at (907) 373-2440 today.

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