Endodontic Retreatment

Why does my tooth need retreatment?

If you have a tooth that has had endodontic (root canal) treatment, it can last as long as your other natural teeth. In some cases, however, complete healing may not occur or there may be new problems months or even years after the initial treatment. When this happens, it is sometimes possible for your endodontist to perform the treatment again with more successful results. This process is called retreatment.

  • Curved or narrow canals were not treated during the initial treatment
  • Complicated canals went undetected during the initial treatment
  • The crown or restoration was not placed within the appropriate amount of time
    following the procedure.
  • The crown or restoration did not prevent saliva from contaminating the inside of the tooth.

In some cases, new problems can influence a tooth that was successfully treated:

  • New decay can expose a root canal filling material, causing infection.
  • A cracked or loose filling or crown can expose the tooth to new infection.

Who performs endodontic retreatment?

All dentists receive some training in endodontic treatment. Retreatment, however, can be more challenging than the initial treatment. For this reason, many dentists refer their patients in need of retreatment to an endodontic specialist. Endodontists are dental specialists who diagnose and treat oral and facial pain. They specialize in endodontic (root canal) treatment, including any treatment for the soft inner tissues of the tooth, the pulp. In addition to dental school, endodontists receive another two or more years of advanced education. They study root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth, including the area of retreatment.

What happens during endodontic retreatment?

At this point, you will need to return to your dentist as soon as possible in order to have a new crown or restoration placed on the tooth to restore full functionality.

Is retreatment the best treatment option for me?

The decision to retreat should be made by you, your dentist and your endodontist. While retreated teeth can last a lifetime, there is no guarantee that treatment will be more successful the second time. The treatment option for any particular patient must be chosen on an individual basis.

How much will retreatment cost?

The cost of retreatment varies depending on the complexity of the procedure. It will probably cost more than the initial procedure, because your restoration and root filling materials must be removed before the second treatment can begin. Also, your endodontist may need to spend more time searching for problems that may have caused the initial treatment to fail.

The only alternatives to retreatment are having the tooth extracted or having it retreated surgically, if the root cannot be accessed through the crown. If the tooth is extracted, it must be replaced with a bridge, implant or removable partial denture. This will restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. Generally, nonsurgical retreatment and restoration of your natural tooth is the least expensive option. Your dentist will be happy to discuss the various treatment options and their costs with you.