Here We Go Again
While your dentist may be able to retreat the tooth, endodontic retreatment is usually performed by endodontists, or root canal specialists. The first step in endodontic retreatment is non-surgical retreatment, which is performed much like a typical root canal. Your dentist needs to gain access to the roots by either removing the dental crown or drilling directly through the crown itself. The dental crown's post, which is embedded into the tooth to keep it in place, will need to be removed. Once the tooth filling material is extracted, files are used to reshape the root's canals, which are then cleaned and filled with gutta percha. Once your endodontic retreatment is complete, your dental crown will be filled or you will be fitted for a new one.
Although the procedure is similar to your original root canal treatment, it requires more precision to better remove what was missed before. A Dental Operating Microscope is extremely beneficial during endodontic retreatment procedures -- it magnifies the area to help your dentist locate the canals and signs of infection. But even with high-tech equipment, non-surgical retreatment may require more time and several dental visits to complete.
The Final Chapter
In some cases, your dentist may not be able to remove all of the infection during endodontic retreatment. Your dentist may skip nonsurgical endodontic retreatment altogether if the post that holds your crown in place can't be removed or if the canals are too narrow, blocked or curved to gain access to them. If endodontic retreatment doesn't work or isn't an option, endodontic dental surgery may be required.
Endodontic surgery requires a small incision to be made in your gums. After your dentist cleans out any infection found around the tooth, he or she will shave off 3 to 4 millimeters of the root and clean the inside of the canal from the root's tip. The root is then filled and the gums are stitched to complete the procedure. This type of endodontic surgery is often referred to as an apicoectomy. Your dentist may also choose to perform a root resection, where an entire root is removed from your tooth.
Dentists may use both nonsurgical retreatment and endodontic surgery to fix your root canal. If none of these treatments are successful, the only option is a tooth extraction. If you're experiencing discomfort in a tooth that had a root canal, don't ignore it. The sooner you have endodontic retreatment, the better chance you'll have of saving your tooth -- and getting relief from your pain!