Endodontic Retreatment

With daily brushing and flossing, routine dental exams, and a healthy diet, most teeth that receive endodontic treatment can last as long as natural teeth. However, sometimes a treated tooth does not heal. In some cases, it can become painful or diseased months or years later, even if treatment was successful. Endodontic retreatment may save the tooth.

Endodontic retreatment may be necessary because:

  • The tooth has curved or narrow canals that were not treated during the first procedure.
  • During the initial procedure, complicated canal anatomy was not identified.
  • The tooth was not restored in a timely manner.

Even if a tooth was successfully treated, if new problems arise, such as a fracture or new infection, the tooth may need to be treated again.

What will happen during the procedure?

First, the tooth is reopened to access the canals. Generally, crowns and other restorations must be removed to access the canals. After the filling is removed, the canals are thoroughly cleaned. The endodontist carefully examines the inside of the tooth, to identify any other canals or unusual anatomy that needs to be cleaned. The canals are sealed and a temporary filling is placed. If the canals are narrow or blocked, endodontic surgery may be performed. After retreatment, you must visit a general dentist to have a crown or other restoration.

Is retreatment the best option?

If possible, it is always best to save a natural tooth. Retreated teeth can function properly for many years, even for a lifetime. Since endodontic technology is constantly changing, your endodontist may use new techniques that were not available for the first procedure. The tooth may benefit from retreatment. Ultimately, after speaking with your general dentist, endodontist or other specialists, you must decide if retreatment is best for your overall health.

Are there any alternatives to retreatment?

The alternative to retreatment is endodontic surgery. Your endodontist may recommend endodontic surgery in conjunction with retreatment.

Though the goal of endodontic retreatment is to save a tooth, unfortunately, this is not always possible. And the only other alternative is extraction. Missing teeth can make you embarrassed to smile, cause other healthy teeth to shift, hinder your ability to chew or bite properly, and negatively affect your overall health. Extracted teeth should always be replaced with a dental implant. Although, nothing feels or functions better than natural teeth, dental implants are a great natural-looking alternative.