A root canal therapy is considered as a treatment for a damaged tooth root and pulp with a healthy crown. It is the concept of saving the tooth instead of extracting it that this Burwood dentist says patients should not fear root canal. But what if the treatment itself fails? What are failed root canal symptoms and how can you manage them?
Root canal procedure
As mentioned earlier, a root canal-treated tooth is done when the pulp of a tooth is damaged, infected, or dying but the crown itself is salvageable. The procedure should be confirmed as the treatment of choice through exams and imaging that all detect pulpitis (infection of the tooth pulp).
Under anesthesia, the treatment starts with the dentist drilling a hole near the root of the tooth. The tooth pulp gets removed and the dentist makes sure that no remnants of bacteria or pulp contents are left inside. Disinfection and irrigation are done inside to prevent secondary infection or reintroduction of infection after the treatment. A sealant fills the space where the pulp used to be so it will not be damaged and be vulnerable to bacteria and decay. This treatment usually lasts for one to two hours depending on the location and type of tooth to be treated.
Root canal failure
Like any other medical or dental treatment, complications and failure may arise or happen. In root canal treatment, normal function and appearance of the tooth should return after a few days. However, there are instances where the reintroduction of infection happens, either because the sealing of the tooth root failed or an injury to the tooth happened and damaged the integrity of the treatment. Failed root canal symptoms may include tooth sensitivity and pain, swelling, and gum injury. If left untreated, abscess and bad breath may also be noticed.
Root canal retreatment
Your endodontist assesses the state of your root canal-treated tooth and decides if retreatment is the best option to correct the damage. If that is the case, the dentist will have to remove all the filling that replaced the pulp during the initial treatment. He may also reassess the canals inside the tooth to determine the next steps. He may also perform surgery to make sure that sealing of the tooth works both ways. A few days after the retreatment, your dentist may request you to come back to complete the restoration of the tooth if, for example, a crown is needed to cap off the treated tooth.
Dentists always aim to save the tooth from damage and decay. However, retreatment of a failed root canal may not always be the best option. Sometimes, if the damage is extensive, tooth extraction is the best option to avoid the spread of infection. Let your endodontist explain to you your options and discuss with him your concerns so he can guide you and your expectations realistically.