What To Do If Your Root Canal Fails

A root canal is a dental procedure that helps treat infected tissue of the tooth's roots. This is a common infection that requires a hole to be drilled through the tooth and into the canal, so that the dentist can remove the infected tissue and pulp. After the procedure is complete, a temporary filling material is used and a crown is made about two weeks later. While it has a very high success rate, there are some cases where the procedure fails the first time. Here is what you should know about failure and what can be done about it.

Causes of Root Canal Failure

The main cause of a root canal failure is if there is some hidden infected tissue that remains in the canal after it is filled following the procedure. While endodontics are trained to remove all infected tissue, this does happen on occasion. Other possible causes of root canal failure include:

  • Incorrect filling or sealing of the tooth
  • New tooth decay that caused bacteria to leak into the root canal
  • The crown was placed too late and new infection entered the root area
  • Saliva contaminated the area during the procedure

Signs of Root Canal Failure

Pain and discomfort is the primary sign of root canal failure, but you should not confuse regular discomfort after the procedure as failure of the root canal. You should still expect some discomfort for several days after it was completed. Instead of looking for pain right away, consider how long you have had the pain for. If it has been weeks after the procedure and you still experience pain, have new or more severe pain, or have a sudden sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, return to your dentist like one fromFuller Periodontics & Implant Dentistry for an evaluation.

Treatment for a Failed Root Canal

If your endodontist has found that the root canal has failed, you have a few options. The first is to try the root canal procedure again. They will remove the temporary filling material or crown and re-drill a hole to try and find the rest of the infected tissue. There is also another procedure called an apisectomy that can be done. During this procedure, the endodontist cuts the root tip and empties the root canal. The last option is to simply have the tooth removed, which should avoid any future problems.

Replacing the Missing Tooth

If you decide to get the tooth removed, you will need to figure out how to replace it. If you leave it missing, it could cause your other teeth to shift, so it is best to have it replaced. Here are the tooth replacement options:

Dental bridge – A bridge uses an artificial tooth in the middle for the missing tooth, and is attached to a crown on either side. You will need adjacent teeth to the missing tooth in order to support the bridge.

Dental implant – The permanent solution for a missing tooth is a dental implant, which requires implanting a metal post into the jaw bone, then putting an abutment and crown on top.