Root canal retreatment, sometimes called endodontic retreatment, is essentially a repeat root canal. A tooth that has already had a root canal may become infected again, requiring repeat treatment.
What causes a tooth to need a root canal retreatment? How do you know if you need retreatment? Learn the answers to these questions and more.
What is a Root Canal?
To understand root canal retreatment, it helps to understand what root canal treatment is in the first place. A root canal is a procedure that is used to treat or prevent a tooth infection. When bacteria invades the dental pulp, the soft tissue at the center of the tooth, it can cause an infection. This can happen through a deep cavity, a crack in a tooth, or some other avenue. Root canal treatment involves the removal of the dental pulp from the tooth, cleaning out and disinfecting the root canal, and filling the tooth with composite material to prevent reinfection.
Why is Root Canal Retreatment Necessary?
Sometimes a tooth that has had a root canal will develop a new infection. If this occurs, a repeat root canal could potentially save the tooth, allowing it to stay in place in your mouth. In many cases a tooth that has been treated with a root canal will last for the rest of your life.
How Does a Tooth Become Reinfected After a Root Canal?
If the purpose of a root canal is to prevent reinfection, how does a tooth become reinfected? There are few different scenarios where this may occur:
- Incomplete root canal. If the first root canal was not complete, meaning some dental pulp was left inside the tooth, a new infection can develop.
- New canals have formed. Sometimes a tooth will develop new canals within the root of the tooth that were not there during the first treatment. These allow room for infection to develop.
- Infection was not completely eliminated. If some infected tissue or even a small amount of bacteria is left behind in the tooth during the first root canal, the infection may not clear up and begin to worsen.
- The tooth has new decay. A tooth that has had a root canal is still susceptible to decay, which could allow reinfection of the tooth through a cavity.
What Makes Retreatment Different From the First Root Canal?
The procedure for root canal retreatment is similar to the original procedure, but extra care is taken to ensure that the tooth is thoroughly cleaned out and filled. Special tools such as an endodontic microscope may be used to get a more detailed view of the root canal system within the tooth. Advanced cleaning methods are used to reach the smallest areas inside the tooth to ensure that no pulp or bacteria are left behind. The tooth is also thoroughly sealed off, typically with a dental crown placed over the top.
How Do You Know if You Need Retreatment?
The symptoms that indicate the need for root canal retreatment are similar to the original symptoms you may have experienced:
- Toothache. If you have a toothache that is persistent and doesn’t go away with over the counter pain medication, you may need a repeat root canal.
- Extreme sensitivity. The tooth may be overly sensitive to heat and cold, and the sensitivity lasts after the source is removed.
- Discolored tooth. A tooth may look dark inside, either gray or brown in color, which indicates bleeding inside the tooth.
- Swollen gums around the tooth. The infection inside of a tooth can make the gums swell in that area. An abscess may develop that bleeds or oozes pus.
- Pain when chewing. If it hurts to chew in the area of the treated tooth, it may need retreatment.
Where Should I Go For Root Canal Retreatment?
While many dentists perform root canals, if you have a tooth that needs to be retreated it may be best to see an endodontist. Endodontists specialize in treating teeth from the inside out. At Elite Endodontics of NH, root canals and endodontic retreatment are some of our most common procedures. We have the tools, technology, and expertise to provide retreatment that can give your tooth a second chance. Don’t give up on a tooth until you see us first.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.