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With proper care, most teeth that have had endodontic treatment (root canal) will last as long as other natural teeth. However, in some cases a tooth that has received endodontic treatment may fail to heal or pain may continue. Occasionally, the pain may occur months or even years after treatment. If your tooth has failed to heal and pain persists, you have a second chance to save your tooth by another endodontic procedure called retreatment.

A tooth may not heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons:

  • Complicated canals were undetected in the first treatment.
  • Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the first treatment.
  • The crown or other restoration was not placed at the right time after the first treatment.
  • The restoration or crown did not prevent contamination from saliva inside the mouth.
  • New decay can expose the root canal filling material to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth.
  • A cracked or broken crown, or a loose filling can expose the tooth to new infection.
Root Canal Retreatment Procedure
  1. The endodontist will reopen your tooth to gain access to the root canal filling material. In many situations, complex restorative materials will be removed to permit access to the root canal.
  2. After removing the canal filling, the endodontist will at this point clean the canals and carefully examine the inside of your tooth, carefully searching for any additional canals or unusual anatomy that requires treatment.
  3. After cleaning the canals, the endodontist will fill and seal the canals, then place a temporary filling in the tooth. Post space may also be prepared at this time.

After the final treatment is done, you will need to return to your dentist as soon as possible to have a new crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

A retreated tooth can function well for years, even for a lifetime. It is always best to save the tooth if your endodontist believes retreatment is the best option for you.