Root Canal Retreatment: Do I Deserve It?

Rootcanal retreatment

In most cases, teeth that had a root canal treatment will last as long as other natural teeth. But Occasionally, this tooth may not heal and becomes painful or infected after some months or even years of successful treatment. 

In this situation, you may need retreatment to fix the problem. It is not a complicated process. You can come out of this problem with simple steps of retreatment. It is the happy news that your tooth has a second chance.

In this article, we can discuss the need for canal retreatment, the cost of canal retreatment, and the alternative for canal retreatment.

Why Do We Need Root Canal Retreatment?

When you experience pain in a treated tooth after several days of completing the root canal or if you have an abscess or a swollen gum, you need a root canal retreatment. An essential factor is that sometimes, abscesses start small and remain unnoticed. So you need to consult a dentist every six months and monitor the root canal-treated teeth with X-rays to maintain overall and oral health.

Following are some of the reasons for root canal retreatment

Occasionally, there is a chance that a treated tooth may not heal as expected. You may face this issue for various reasons, including

  • Complicated canal anatomy: Bacteria that hide inside the narrow, curved, or complex canals may escape during the initial procedure.
  • Delayed crown placement: If the doctor delays placing the crown after the root canal treatment, bacteria take this chance to attack and infect the vulnerable tooth.
  • Salivary contamination: In some cases, salivary contamination occurs in partially sealed teeth.

Some additional problems that affect the treated tooth include

  • New decay: if any new decay forms near the treated tooth, it makes bacteria enter the root canal filling and cause another infection in the same tooth.
  • Restoration damage: Bacteria may seep through, attack the tooth’s inner surface, and create a new infection when the crown or filling becomes loose or cracked. 
  • Tooth damage: Bacteria can access the inner layers and infect the tooth if the treated tooth sustains a crack or fracture in its crown or roots. 

How Much Does The Root Canal Retreatment Cost?

  • Root canal retreatment may cost more than the actual root canal treatment as it involves removing filling material to access the tooth.
  • The cost of the retreatment varies depending on the spreading level of decay, pain, complications, health condition of the patient, and other needed procedures.
  • This retreatment procedure is more complex and backbreaking than the initial procedure. In addition, your endodontist needs to spend more time searching for the unusual canal anatomy of the patient. This is another reason why the retreatment is costlier than the initial endodontic treatment.
  • Your dental insurance may cover part or all of the cost for retreatment, but some policies may limit coverage to a single procedure on a tooth in a given period. These complications make you feel that root canal retreatment is more costly.

Are There Any Alternatives To Root Canal Retreatment?

Yes! There are several potential alternatives available to root canal retreatment. 


An apicoectomy is more invasive that you need more time to recover. It will be more painful too. Dentists give you local anesthesia during this procedure to prevent you from pain. You need to spend almost 30 to 60 minutes to complete it. In a failed root canal issue, the dentist suggests you have an apicoectomy as an alternative when there is residual inflammation or infection near the root tip that reaches into the jawbone. 


Extraction is the final solution for the tooth issue if none of the above treatments are effective. This is the final solution suggested by the doctor if a person has excessive tooth decay, tooth infection, or crowding. You can use implants to fill the space, getting suggestions from the doctor.

Difference Between Root Canal Retreatment And Typical Root Canal

To know the difference between root canal retreatment and the initial root canal, you need to understand the procedures involved in the root canal. Retreatment differs from the usual method by only a few steps. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to a root canal procedure and root canal retreatment procedure to know what needs to happen and why:

Root canal treatment

Root canal retreatment

Step 1:

Give anesthesia to the site to numb the tooth and surrounding area. The doctor starts the treatment once the area completely numbs.
Step 1:

The doctor reopens the tooth to access the root canal filling material. Then remove and disassemble complex restorative materials like the crown, post, and core material.
Step 2:

In this step, the doctor will apply a dental dam that allows the doctor to concentrate on the specific tooth receiving treatment. The dental dam blocks all other surrounding teeth and provides a sterile environment to reduce the risk of infection by bacteria.
Step 2:

Then, he cleans the canals and examines the inner area of the tooth with magnification and illumination to find any additional canals or unusual anatomy that requires treatment.
Step 3:

In this step, the doctor drills into the affected tooth a small hole to access the dead pulp chamber. This small hole can be along the biting surface or into the back of the tooth, based on the location.
Step 3:

After the cleaning process, he will fill and seal the canals and fix a temporary filling in the tooth. The doctor will suggest surgery if the canal is unusually narrow or blocked.
Step 4:

The dentists remove the dead pulp tissue and nerves using special root canal tools. After this removal, the affected tooth will
no longer be able to feel pain.
Step 4:

This surgery involves making an incision to seal the other end of the root.
Step 5:

Next, the most essential step is disinfecting the inside, or canals, of the affected tooth.
After completing the retreatment, you have to return to your dentist as soon as possible to have a new crown placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to its full function.
Step 6:

In this step, the doctor shapes an area for the filling and sealer by inserting flexible root canal tools.
This retreatment is a little more expensive than a typical root canal.

Step 7:
The next step is applying a rubber-like material to the root canals with an adhesive cement sealer which prevents the tooth from becoming reinfected later.
Step 8:

The doctor inserts a post into the root canal during the filling process based on the structure of the affected tooth to help hold the temporary or permanent filling in place.
You need to follow the prescribed antibiotic to treat any remaining infection.
You will feel minor pain and discomfort after this procedure.


Root canal retreatment is the solution when your treated area is decayed or infected more. Retreatment will be more painful and costly than the previous procedure. But it may provide you with a comfortable solution to stay away from pain and further infection. Whatever the treatment and solutions are available, you can avoid most oral issues once you maintain good oral hygiene. Brushing daily to remove plaque from the teeth, flossing regularly, avoiding some foods, and drinking fluoride water from the tap can protect your teeth from unwanted infections.

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