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What is Endodontic Retreatment and Why Is It Necessary?


With proper care, you’ll keep teeth that have had root canal treatment for a lifetime, but it is possible for teeth that have received previous endodontic therapy to heal improperly and become painful or diseased, months or even years after treatment. If this happens to teeth you have had treated, you have a second chance to save the tooth with retreatment.  This procedure is an additional procedure which may be able to diminish dental pain or discomfort and promote healing. If you suspect a tooth that had a prior root canal requires retreatment, visit your dentist or endodontist for evaluation.

As with any dental procedure, it is possible your tooth will not heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure.

  • Undetected, complicated canal anatomy in the first procedure.

  • The placement of the crown or other restoration was delayed following the endodontic treatment.

  • The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth.

New problems can arise and jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated via endodontic therapy, such as:

  • New decay can expose the root canal filling material to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth.

  • A loose, cracked or broken crown or filling can expose the tooth to new infection.

  • A tooth sustains a fracture.

Retreatment Procedure Overview

During retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth and remove the filling materials that were placed in the root canals during the first procedure. The endodontist then carefully examines the tooth, looking for additional canals or new infection. The endodontist then removes any infection, cleans and shapes the canals, and places new filling materials. This procedure is often completed in multiple visits.  The opening is then sealed with a temporary filling. Once the tooth heals, a new crown or other restoration is placed on the tooth to protect it.

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