Theriot Family Dental

Can a Root Canal Treatment Be Re-Done?

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I had a root canal treatment done a few years ago. Now the tooth is infected again. My dentist is saying we’ll need to re-do the root canal treatment. Before I agree to this, I have a few questions. First, I didn’t even know a root canal treatment could be done more than once. Second, why didn’t it work the first time? Third, will I have to do this every few years? If so, I can’t afford that. Fourth, what would be my options?


Dear Cecil,

Simple illustration of a root canal treatment

I’ll try to answer your questions in order. First, yes, root canal treatments can be redone multiple times. The problem you will face is that with each time it is redone, the chances of success go down.

Second, even if the dentist did everything right, there is up to a 15% chance of a root canal failure. This is because a root canal treatment is not quite as simple as the diagram above implies. The pulp canals can have twists, turns, and even branches that break off from the main canal. Some of them are quite hidden. Others are impossible to get to and a root canal treatment may never be successful.

Third, You shouldn’t have to do them every few years. In fact, because the chance of success goes down each time, I wouldn’t recommend it. You will have a better chance with a re-treatment if you go to a root canal specialist, but they may be more pricey than your dentist and you said you were looking for affordable dental care.

I would start by asking your dentist to be straight with you. Does he know why this one failed? If he does, what are the real chances of success? Would you be better off with a root canal treatment specialist. Using a specialist may be the most affordable thing you can do if it will get the root canal to work once and for all.

Fourth, if it does not work or you don’t want to try again, your only other option is to extract and replace the tooth. While an extraction is an extraction, when it comes to the replacement, you have a few options. Obviously, the top of the line replacement, a dental implant, will be more pricey. But, you can get a good, solid replacement from a dental bridge. If that is too high in cost, you can go down to a removable partial denture.

I hope this helps you.
This blog is brought to you by Baton Rouge Dentist, Dr. John Theriot.