According to the American Academy of Endodontics, approximately 15.1 root canal procedures are performed each year. In the majority of cases, the root canal is completely successful and the patient can live the rest of their life free of pain and worry. However, in a few cases, the root canal isn't enough to save the affected tooth, which can lead to severe discomfort and continue decay, even years after the original root canal was performed. This is when your dentist might recommend an endodontic retreatment. If you're familiar with this procedure, here are a few frequently asked questions you might have:
What Exactly is an Endodontic Retreatment?
In a small amount of cases, an original root canal isn't effective, which can cause the return of an infection that can lead to serious pain, and even tooth loss. To save the tooth, an endodontist will perform a more thorough, and in some cases tricky, root canal to save your tooth.
There are several common reasons why a root canal isn't successful, including:
- The canals leading to the root can be curved or simply more complicated than the endodontist or dentist originally thought. This can lead to an incomplete or unsuccessful root canal.
- Contamination during the original root canal
- A new infection or damage to the tooth. In some cases, if the affected tooth wasn't properly cared for after the original root canal, it can lead to a new infection.
If any of these or other reasons render the original root canal unsuccessful, your dentist may refer you to an endodontist to discuss an endodontic retreatment. In cases when the damage is very severe, you may need to see a endodontist who specializes in root canals and endodontic retreatments.
What Will Happen During the Procedure?
After discussing your options with your endodontist, they will schedule you for a retreatment procedure, if they deem it necessary. The endodontist will begin the procedure by removing the filling that was placed in the canals during your original root canal. Next, they will more closely examine the canals and the structure of your tooth to determine why the original procedure wasn't effective.
If the canals are very narrow, curved or if the endodontist doesn't feel the retreatment would be successful, they may suggest endodontist surgery, which involves sealing both ends of the canal. However, if the endodontist believes they can continue, the next step is to fill and seal the root canals. Once this is done, the endodontist will place a temporary filling in the tooth.
This filling will remain until a permanent crown can be fitted on your tooth. While you wait for the new crown to be fabricated, it is critical to follow the endodontist's instructions to avoid dislodging the filling or infecting the tooth again. After the crown is fabricated, the dentist will remove the temporary filling and bond the crown to your tooth.
Will Insurance Cover an Endodontic Retreatment?
If the endodontist believes that a retreatment is necessary to save your tooth, it is vital to contact your insurance provider immediately. Depending on the type of insurance you have, you may not be eligible to receive a second treatment on the same tooth, especially if the procedures are performed within several months of each other.
There are other options available if your procedure cannot be covered by insurance and you want to save your original tooth. Ask your endodontist about any financial arrangements that can be made to ensure you are able to get the help you need.
Undergoing an endodontic retreatment is often the only option available, if you want to save your tooth. If you are considering this procedure, or have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact your dentist or endodontist.