Occasionally, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment does not heal properly

With a documented success rate of over 90%, root canal treated teeth will last as long as other natural teeth. However, we do not live in a perfect world and some endodontically treated teeth do not heal completely. Pain and swelling may occur months or even years after the initial treatment. Conversely, you may have no swelling or tenderness but your dentist finds a problem on a routine check-up x-ray.

Some of the more common reasons for such a complication to develop are:

  • A new injury to the tooth
  • A new cavity
  • A canal was missed in the initial treatment
  • Curved or narrow canals were not fully cleaned or sealed during the initial treatment
  • A filling or crown breaks down over time

Basically, problems arise when bacteria gain access to the canals. Due to the specialised training, years of experience, as well as the adoption of modern techniques and equipment, endodontists are able attain the optimal result for your tooth. Endodontic retreatment is a complex procedure that is almost exclusively performed by endodontists.

Often during retreatment, new narrow canals not previously treated are discovered

During retreatment, the old filling material is removed from the canals and a search for previously untreated canals is conducted. All of the canals are re-shaped, cleaned with irrigants, and medicated. It is common to perform the retreatment over two appointments. This allows the medication to starve any remaining bacteria and to promote further healing. Upon completion of the retreatment, as with regular root canals, it is necessary to return to your dentist within a week or two for a follow-up filling. For endodontists, retreatment has a high success rate; it is expected the tooth will be pain-free and functional like other natural teeth.

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