Endodontic treatment or root canal can save a tooth that is dying from decay. After endodontic treatment, the tooth that was treated should be free from infection and restored to full strength so that it can function fully and last a lifetime. Root canal cleans out the pulp, the nerves and tissue inside of a tooth, when it is infected and threatening to destroy the tooth. The success rate of root canal procedure is very high, but occasionally, a tooth that has been treated with root canal can develop infection later.
After a root canal, the treated tooth should heal and be pain free. You should be able to chew normally and there should be no sensitivity to the treated tooth after a few days of healing. If you still have pain after a root canal procedure or develop pain in the tooth again in the future, this could be a sign that the tooth has been infected again.
Sometimes when a tooth has a complex inner structure, the first root canal may not completely clean out the infection. If the tooth was not properly restored with a crown after a root canal, new infection can enter the tooth. Damage from injury like a broken crown can also expose a restored tooth to bacteria and the possibility of infection. In any of these cases, endodontic retreatment may be necessary.
The retreatment process is similar to the first root canal. The tooth is opened and the canals are cleaned. The filling materials that were placed during the first root canal may have to be removed so that the endodontist can access the canals. After cleaning, new filling materials are placed and the tooth is sealed. The tooth will again need to be restored with a crown.
In some cases, very small canals are not accessible in a root canal procedure. In such a case, endodontic surgery may be recommended. Surgery allows the endodontist to access small or narrow canals.
Root canal has a 95% success rate, so the chance of requiring retreatment is low for most patients. You can increase the chances of a successful root canal the first time by following your endodontist’s instructions after the procedure, returning for follow-up appointments and continuing to brush and floss your teeth regularly and see the dentist for regular checkups.