A Deep-Dive into Endodontic Retreatment


Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment or simply “root canal,” can save your badly decayed or infected tooth. With proper care, a tooth that has undergone root canal treatment can last a lifetime. Sometimes, though, the treated tooth does not heal properly or it can become painful or diseased long after endodontic treatment. In these cases, endodontic retreatment can offer a second chance.

The root canal is not actually a treatment – it is a part of the tooth. Specifically, the root canal is a hollow section deep inside your tooth. The root canal holds dental pulp, which is made of nerve tissue, blood vessels, and other cells. The nerve serving the tooth lies within the root canal.

Injury, cracks, fractures, tooth decay, and dental caries (also known as cavities) can allow microbes to enter your dental pulp. Bacteria can multiply there to cause infection or a pus-filled pocket, known as an abscess, at the ends of the tooth roots. Left untreated, this can lead to major tooth decay and tooth loss. A root canal stops this destructive process and saves your tooth.

Endodontic Treatment

During root canal treatment, a specially trained dentist known as an endodontist removes the nerve and pulp of the affected tooth. Next, the endodontic professional cleans the interior of the root canal with tiny files and irrigation solutions before filling your tooth with a rubber-like material and sealing the canals with adhesive cement. Lastly, the dentist may place a crown over your tooth to protect it from further damage.

Following the root canal procedure, the tooth is dead, so you will no longer feel pain. Because the procedure eliminates the infection, endodontic treatment prevents further decay of your tooth.

Endodontic Retreatment

While endodontic treatment is effective, it does not have a 100 percent success rate – a small percentage of patients need endodontic retreatment. Some require another procedure because a tooth did not properly heal after a root canal procedure. Others need endodontic retreatment after developing new problems in the treated tooth. Only your endodontist can determine if endodontic retreatment is right for you.

Teeth may not heal properly after a root canal procedure for a number of reasons. Some teeth have exceptionally narrow or curved canals that can be difficult to clean out, for example, while other teeth may have complicated canal anatomy that went undetected during the first procedure. Delayed placement of the crown after the initial root canal can lead to further cracking or breakage of the tooth enamel. Incomplete sealing of the root canal can allow saliva to enter the tooth and contaminate the treated area.

New problems can jeopardize your endodontic treatments. Further tooth decay exposes the root canal filling material to bacteria, for example, and can potentially cause a new infection inside your tooth. A broken or cracked crown could also expose your tooth to new infection. Tooth fractures can also cause a problem for your treated tooth.

Endodontic retreatment can support healing and help save your tooth. During endodontic retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth to gain access to the material filling the root canal. This may involve disassembling and removing the crown and core materials.

The endodontist may then use magnification and illumination to search for additional canals or unusual tooth anatomy that requires root canal treatment. After cleaning the canals, the endodontic professional will fill and seal the canals and place a temporary crown over your treated tooth to protect it.

In cases where the canals are blocked or unusually narrow, the endodontic professional may recommend endodontic surgery. This procedure involves making an incision that allows the endodontist to seal the other end of the root.

After completion of endodontist retreatment, you will return to the dentist for the placement of a new crown or other restoration to protect and restore the tooth.

Endodontic retreatment can prevent tooth loss and save your smile. McDonough Endodontic Center is dedicated exclusively to endodontic care. Our team of highly trained, compassionate endodontists offers a number of endodontic procedures, including root canals and endodontic retreatment, using state-of-the-art equipment designed with safety and efficacy in mind. At McDonough Endodontic Center, your safety and comfort are our top priority.