The goal of a root canal is to treat an infected tooth to restore it to health. In most cases, the treatment is successful – any pain or discomfort is ended, the tooth can be used as normal again, and no further treatment is needed. However, there are some cases when the tooth becomes re-infected and requires treatment again.
Root canal treatments are necessary not only to prevent an infection from working its way to the root of a tooth and causing irreversible damage, but also to relieve pain. The treatment consists of drilling into the tooth to access the pulp chamber and clearing it of infected tissue. The chamber, along with the root canal, is then filled with a special material and the tooth is sealed. A crown is later placed over the tooth to protect it and restore appearances to the smile.
Usually, after this treatment, the tooth is preserved and can be used for many years afterward with no problems. Re-infection is a rare possibility, however. There are a number of reasons why this could happen. The infection may have been more extensive than the dentist initially thought, the root canal network may be far more complex than usual and some tinier canals were not cleaned out, or the protective crown may have been penetrated to allow tooth decay in to contaminate the root canal again.
If a tooth does get infected again after a root canal, it still does not mean that the tooth is lost. A second root canal could be performed to successfully treat the problem. An endodontist may need to be consulted, as they are specialists in issues like root canals and are trained in advanced techniques and to use specialized equipment to handle complicated cases.
If you’ve recently undergone a root canal treatment and notice pain or swelling around the treated tooth, those could be signs of re-infection, and it’s advised that you contact your doctor promptly for an appointment. The sooner the tooth receives treatment, the more likely the treatment will be successful. Book your appointment with our office today!