Some patients will have their root canal treatment last for the rest of their lives.  Other patients, however, may have a dentist or endodontist suggest they need their previous treatment revised or retreated.  Of course, the first thing these patients ask is, “What is endodontic retreatment?” This is a natural question that we often receive at Lowry Endodontics in Denver, CO.  

What Is Endodontic Retreatment?

Endodontic treatment, or root canal therapy, is a highly successful procedure.  Typically, a 90-98% success rate can be achieved in a properly done root canal treatment. However, in some cases, bacteria is left inside the tooth, or bacteria leaks inside the tooth.  This leads to persistent infection or abscess.  

One of the most common reasons for needing retreatment is that the canals were not fully disinfected during the original treatment.  The remaining bacteria multiply and cause a secondary infection. The inability to remove all bacteria may stem from complex anatomy inside the tooth.  This could be avoided by using the latest imaging and irrigation technologies. 

Another reason to need endodontic retreatment is if bacteria leaks back into the tooth after the initial treatment is completed.  Most endodontists place a temporary seal into the access cavity of the tooth.  The patient then returns to the general dentist for a permanent filling.  The longer a patient waits after the initial root canal treatment to return to their dentist, the greater the chance for bacteria to seep into the tooth.  Reinfection will increase the chance of your treatment failing.  

Lastly, patients may have a permanent crown or filling develop a cavity.  This decay can also cause reinfection.  

Who Needs Endodontic Retreatment?

If you have a tooth that has had endodontic treatment and are continuing to have symptoms or bone loss in your jaw, Endodontic Retreatment might be your best option to save the tooth. 

Anyone experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms should speak to their dentist.  

  • Pain in or near a previously treated tooth
  • Lost a crown
  • A Cracked tooth
  • Swelling in the gum near the tooth
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Pain when biting down
  • Infected jaw bone that is not healing

Early treatment can prevent pain, infection, or loss of the tooth.

What Happens During Endodontic Retreatment?

During endodontic retreatment, the endodontist follows many of the same steps used for an initial root canal therapy. However, because the tooth already has a crown and filling from the previous treatment, these need removal first. During endodontic retreatment, the patient typically experiences the following:

  • Imaging to determine the extent of the infection or inflammation
  • Preparation of the site, including a numbing agent injected into the area
  • Making small access opening into the tooth
  • Unpacking filling and sealant from inside the tooth
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the interior of the root canals
  • Resealing the tooth to protect it from future infection

The exact steps will depend on the patient’s condition. However, the procedure generally follows the above method.

Is Endodontic Retreatment Painful?

Endodontic retreatment should not be painful. At the beginning of the procedure, patients will have a local anesthetic injected to numb the area to keep them from feeling any discomfort or pain during the treatment.   After the procedure, most patients typically feel very mild to no discomfort at all.  

At Lowry Endodontics, Dr. Rahim Karmali does everything possible to ensure that patients receive painless and predictably successful treatments.  

Are There Alternatives to Endodontic Retreatment?

The alternative to endodontic retreatment for many patients is having a tooth extracted. However, because every case is different, patients should consult with a professional before making a decision.  Picking the most conservative and predictable option is important.  

Dr. Karmali specializes in conservative care and helping his patients to find the least invasive treatment possible.  He has gained a reputation for saving teeth that would otherwise require extraction.  If you are uncertain about your decision, you should consider seeing Dr. Karmali at Lowry Endodontics.  He will give you the clarification you need to make your best decision.  

How to Prevent the Need for Future Retreatment

While endodontic retreatment should last for life, some things may happen to make it a less permanent fix.  Therefore, patients should do everything possible to care for their teeth to prevent needing additional treatments for the specific tooth.

Regular brushing and flossing, along with dental cleanings, can prevent decay that could open a treated tooth to bacteria. During sports activities, patients should wear mouth guards to prevent cracked or broken teeth. Plus, patients should never try to use their teeth to tear open packages, envelopes, or open bottles. These activities could cause a crown to dislodge from a tooth and allow bacteria to enter.

What Type of Technology Does Lowry Endodontics Use to Improve Endodontic Retreatment?

At Lowry Endodontics, Dr. Karmali uses the latest technology to ensure a thorough approach to all procedures. Some of the high-tech devices patients may see at our practice include: 

  1. Digital x-rays that reduce radiation exposure to patients
  2. The Fotona Lightwalker laser for thorough cleaning inside the root canals,
  3. Cone-beam imaging for three-dimension views of the tooth
  4. Surgical microscopes to make it easier to see inside the tooth during endodontic retreatment

With innovative technology and Dr. Karmali’s expertise, we can provide our patients with high-quality care for any procedure they need.

Connect with Us at Lowry Endodontics Serving Denver, CO, for Endodontic Retreatment and More

If you have a recommendation from a dentist for endodontic retreatment or want an evaluation of symptoms that may indicate you need this treatment, call us at Lowry Endodontics for an appointment with Dr. Karmali. Through good endodontic care, you can keep more of your natural teeth for life with compassionate care, quality treatment, using the latest technology.