There are, of course, no guarantees, but endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success — up to 95%. Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment may not heal. In other cases the tooth may become painful or diseased a few months, or even years, after successful treatment. Often, a repeat of the endodontic procedure can save the tooth. We always discuss the chances of success with you before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision.
There are a variety of causes for failed root canals:
- Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure.
- Complicated canal anatomy that went undetected in the first procedure.
- The placement of the crown or other restoration was delayed following the endodontic treatment.
- The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination of the inside of the tooth.
In other cases, a new problem can jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated. For example:
- New decay can expose the root canal filling to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth.
- The loose, cracked, or broken crown or filling can expose the tooth to new infection.
- The tooth sustains a fracture.
If a root canal retreatment is necessary, Dr. Duggan, after administering a local anesthetic full and while working under a microscope with xenon lighting, will make a hole in the biting surface of the tooth to gain access to the root canal filling material. This old material will be removed to make room to clear the root canals. Once the canals are cleared, Dr. Duggan will carefully examine the inside of the problematic tooth under the microscope. If no fractures appear, he will clean and shape the canals again, looking especially for canals that may have been missed during the initial treatment. Once cleaned, Dr. Duggan will re-fill the canals and place a hard restoration in the tooth to further seal off the root canal system from the oral cavity. At this point, you will need to return to your dentist as soon as possible in order to have a new crown, or other restoration, placed on the tooth to restore full functionality.