When your tooth has been badly infected, root canal therapy could mean the difference between saving it and needing an extraction. This extremely reliable procedure has a success rate of over 95%, but unfortunately, like with any kind of medical treatment, there’s always a risk of complications. Read on to learn 3 potential reasons for root canal failure that endodontists, dentists, and patients alike should always be aware of – as well as what can be done about it.
1. The Tooth Wasn’t Cleaned Properly
After the pulp is removed from the tooth, the inside of the root canals need to be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized to remove any remaining bacteria or debris. In some cases though, there might be an obstruction preventing a complete cleaning, or the complex nature of the root canal system could make some areas more difficult to detect. In any case, if harmful substances are left in the tooth, it could lead to a new infection.
2. The Tooth Was Not Properly Resealed
Once cleaning is done, the tooth is resealed and topped with a crown. This protects it against future infections and helps maintain its structural integrity. But if the tooth isn’t completely resealed, there’s a chance that new bacteria could enter the root canals again and cause more damage. That’s why, when you need endodontic care, it’s important to find a specialist that’s skilled and experienced in performing every part of the procedure.
3. The Tooth Has Been Damaged
Even if the cleaning and the sealing were both successful, your tooth can still be reinfected if it ends up suffering new damage; for example the enamel could be cracked after you bite on something hard, or the seal could deteriorate due to excessive wear and tear, exposing the inside of the tooth.
What Can You Do About Root Canal Failure?
If you notice signs of root canal failure – namely pain or noticeable symptoms of infection such as swelling or an abscess – get in touch with your endodontist right away. If the tooth is still salvageable, they can perform an endodontic retreatment. After reopening the tooth, they’ll remove any infected material, using a surgical microscope to make sure the canals are as clean as possible. The canals are then sealed, and the tooth will receive a temporary filling; you’ll need to visit your general dentist for a permanent restoration once the procedure’s done.
There are other ways a tooth can be salvaged if the first root canal wasn’t successful, but you’ll need to talk with your endodontist in order to explore all the viable options. Don’t take any chances when it comes to keeping your smile intact; make an appointment as soon as you realize you’re suffering from a new infection.
About the Practice
At Endodontic Associates Saratoga, Dr. An Nguyen, Dr. James Sanfilippo, and Dr. Frances Lee address the unique needs of all kinds of patients. Each of them has completed a specialized endodontic program and has years of hands-on experience. If you think a previously treated tooth might be newly infected and requires retreatment, you can schedule an appointment by visiting their website or calling (408) 255-6511.