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What is root canal therapy retreatment?

Every so often, a tooth that has been treated with root canal therapy doesn’t heal properly and becomes painful or diseased months or even years after treatment. If your tooth failed to heal or develops new problems, you have a second chance. An additional procedure—or retreatment—may be able to support healing and save your tooth. If you have pain or discomfort in a previously treated tooth, talk to us about retreatment.

Why do I need another endodontic procedure?

As occasionally happens with any medical procedure, a tooth may not heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons. Narrow or curved canals may not have been treated during the initial procedure, or the restoration failed to prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth. Perhaps complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the first procedure.

A new problem also could have jeopardized a tooth that was successfully treated. For example, new decay could have exposed the root canal filling material to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth. Or a loose, cracked, or broken crown or filling may have exposed the tooth to new infection. The tooth itself could have sustained a fracture.

What would be involved in retreatment?

Should you choose retreatment after hearing your options, the endodontist will reopen the tooth to gain access to the root canal filling material. Many times, complex restorative materials—crown, post, and core matter—must be disassembled and removed to permit access to the root canals.

After removing the canal filling, the canals are cleaned and—using magnification and illumination—the inside of your tooth is carefully examined for additional canals or unusual anatomy that may require treatment. Next, the canals are filled and sealed, and a temporary filling is placed in the tooth. If the canals are unusually narrow or blocked, we may recommend endodontic surgery, which involves making an incision to allow the other end of the root to be sealed.

Following the completion of retreatment, you will need a new crown or other restoration placed on the tooth as soon as possible to protect and restore it to its full function.