Occasionally, a tooth which has undergone root canal therapy may not heal as expected.
This can occur for a number of reasons such as difficult-to-detect inner anatomy of the tooth (such as a root canal which was never found), delay in having your dentist place the final restoration (the crown, onlay or filling) after endodontic treatment was completed, or a restoration which failed to prevent salivary contamination from reaching the inside of the tooth (allowing decay to form under the restoration).
Sometimes new problems appear which compromise a tooth that has received successful root canal treatment. If new decay occurs, the root canal filling can be exposed to saliva and bacteria, creating a new infection within the tooth. The same can happen due to a loose or cracked filling or in the case of a fracture to the tooth itself.
If your tooth requires retreatment, our doctors will meet with you and discuss all of your treatment options. If you decide upon retreatment, we will reopen the tooth in order to access the root canal filling(s). This may sometimes require removing the crown, post, and core material in order to gain access to the tooth's root canals.
Once the canal filling is removed, the canals will be cleaned and a thorough examination will be performed using a surgical operating microscope to detect the source of infection and to check for internal cracks using a disclosing dye and for any unusual root anatomy. Then the canals will be sealed with a biocompatible material coated with an adhesive cement and temporary cement will be placed to close the opening in the tooth.
In some cases, blocked (also known as calcified) canals may require surgery. This procedure is known as an apicoectomy (please refer to this service listed under Microsurgical Endodontics to learn more). If that should be necessary, our doctors will discuss it with you fully.
After your retreatment procedure it is very important for you to return to your general dentist as soon as possible for your new crown or restoration in order to protect the tooth from infection. Generally it is recommended to complete the restoration process within 3 to 4 weeks.
Retreated teeth have the ability to function well for many years.