Even when a tooth has received root canal treatment, it might still become reinfected. The patient will usually notice a returning dull pain, and the general feeling will be that “something is not right”.

More often than not the tooth in question is not the cause of pain. Moreover, the inflammation may not be visible until the area is looked at in an x-ray. The area affected, around the root tips, will show up on the x-ray as a dark spot.

When retreatment is necessary

If, following root canal treatment, bacteria have remained in the canal system of the tooth root, or if they have returned after the treatment, renewed inflammation may result. This is when renewed treatment, retreatment or revision of the old root canal treatment is necessary. Common causes may include:

  • Canals have been overlooked or they have not been treated in their entirety, ie in their entire length or width
  • Cleaning out the canal system could not be done sufficiently due to the complex anatomy of the patient’s root canal
  • Tooth decay, leaking fillings or late treatment with a crown may have resulted in bacteria entering the root canal system for a second time

How is retreatment carried out?

In the event of renewed inflammation we remove the previous root filling and clean out the entire root system, including any root canals that might have been overlooked. Filling and sealing is then done again.

Retreatment is more complex and lengthy than your primary root canal treatment since the old root filling and remaining tissue will need to be removed. If retreatment is not successful, apicoectomy — removing the root’s apex along with the surrounding damaged tissue — is the last option we have. If it becomes clear that the inflammation is not going away, the retreated tooth should be replaced with an artificial tooth.

Success rates for retreatment are around 60% to 85%. During your initial treatment we will give you an estimate of the likeliness of success for your individual treatment.

What do we do if a root canal treatment is failing

For more information regarding this treatment

Back to Saving Teeth

Lecturer of the Academy of Practice and Science

Implantologist certified by the German Society for Implantology (DGI)

Specialist certified by the General Dental Council and the German Society of Prosthodontics and Dental Materials

Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine

Registered Specialist with the General Dental Council

All-on-4® Competence Center

University lecturer at the Christian-Albrechts-University at Kiel, Germany

Certified training centre for Implantology (DGI)

European Association for Osseointegration

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Wimpole Street Dental Clinic
  • 55 Wimpole Street
  • Marylebone
  • London
  • W1G 8YL
  • T.020 3745 7455

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