The American Academy of Endodontics reports that nearly 16 million root canal procedures are performed each year in the United States and save natural teeth with extremely high levels of success. While root canal therapy offers this extremely high success rate, some patients have an endodontically treated tooth that fails to heal — or is causing pain — months or even years after successful treatment. When this occurs, the tooth may often be saved by a root canal retreatment, which Dr. Lea, Dr. Smithson, and Dr. Studebaker perform.

Why would a second root canal be needed?

There are several reasons that a tooth may not heal after initial root canal therapy. For starters, the anatomic structure of the tooth’s canal system can make treatment difficult; narrow or curved canals may go undetected. Next, tooth trauma can cause the root to fracture, which can cause an infection or cyst. Finally, new decay can expose the root canal filling material to bacteria and cause a new infection. This can be the result of a loose, cracked or broken crown or filling. A second root canal may also be necessary if coronal leakage occurs, which is when decay and bacteria invade a tooth under a loose filling or ill-fitting crown. When coronal leakage enters the filled root canal system, it can cause contamination and failure of treatment.

What happens during retreatment?

With root canal retreatment, Dr. Lea, Dr. Smithson, and Dr. Studebaker gently reopen the canals and remove the infection. They then sterilize and refill the canals. In many cases, restorative materials such as crowns and posts need to be removed in order to access the root canal. Our doctors will always try to preserve the original crown, if possible. If they determine that your existing crown is sealing and functioning properly, a small opening will be drilled in the crown that can later be restored by your general dentist. Finally, for patients who have complex curved canals or blockage in the canals, your doctor may recommend apical surgery, also known as apicoectomy.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call our office at 206-633-3636 today!