Endodontic Retreatment


Why would I need another endodontic procedure?

As occasionally happens with any dental or medical procedure your tooth may not heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons:


  • retx1Narrow or curved canals were not located and treated during the initial procedure.
  • Intricate or complicated canal anatomy was undetected during the first procedure.
  • The placement of the crown or other final restoration was delayed following the original endodontic treatment.
  • The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth.


In other cases, a new problem can jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated. For example:                     retx2

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.



What can I expect during retreatment?

retx3First, your endodontist will discuss your treatment options. If you and your endodontist choose retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth to gain access to the root canal filling material. In many cases, complex restorative materials—crown, post and core material—must be disassembled and removed to permit access to the root canals.



After removing the canal filling, the endodontist will clean the canals and carefully examine the insideretx4 of   your tooth using surgical microscopes that magnifies and illuminates the canals, searching for any additional canals or unusual anatomy that requires treatment.



retx5After cleaning the canals, your endodontist will fill and seal the canals and place the temporary filling or permanent filling as requested by your general dentist in the tooth. If the canals are unusually narrow or blocked, your endodontist may recommend endodontic surgery. This surgery involves making an incision to allow the other end of the root to be sealed.



retx6After your endodontist completes retreatment, you will need to return to your dentist as soon as possible to have a new crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to its full function.




Is retreatment the best choice for me?

Whenever possible, it is best to save your natural tooth. Retreated teeth can function well for years, even for a lifetime.

Advances in technology are constantly changing the way Endodontic Therapy (root canal treatment) is performed, so your endodontist may use new techniques that were not available when you had your first procedure. Your endodontist may be able to resolve your problem with retreatment.

As with any dental or medical procedure, there are no guarantees. Your endodontist will discuss your options and the chances of success before beginning retreatment.


Are there alternatives to retreatment?

If nonsurgical retreatment is not an option, then endodontic surgery should be considered. This surgery involves making an incision to allow access to the tip of the root. Endodontic surgery may also be recommended in conjunction with retreatment or as an alternative. Your endodontist will discuss your options and recommend appropriate treatment.


What are the alternatives to endodontic retreatment and/or endodontic surgery?

The only other alternative is extraction of the tooth. The extracted tooth must then be replaced with an implant, bridge or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting.  These options often require extensive surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth, and can be far more costly and time consuming than retreatment and restoration of the natural tooth.

No matter how effective tooth replacements are—nothing is as functional as your own natural tooth. You’ve already made an investment in saving your tooth. The benefits for choosing retreatment could be a healthy, functioning natural tooth for many years to come.