Root canal failure refers to the inability of the root canal treatment to eliminate the infection and save the tooth. While root canal treatment has a high success rate, the procedure may not be successful in some cases. There are several causes of root canal failure, including:
- Missed or inaccessible canals: During the root canal procedure, the dentist must locate and treat all of the canals in the tooth. In some cases, canals may be missed or are too small or curved to be accessed, allowing bacteria to remain in the tooth and leading to re-infection. An endodontist is specifically trained to locate and treat all the canals in the tooth by using specialized equipment such as a microscope, ultrasound, and cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT), which help in locating and treating those hard-to-reach areas
- Incomplete filling or sealing of the canals: After the canals have been cleaned and disinfected, they need to be filled and sealed to prevent bacteria from re-entering the tooth. If the canals are not properly filled or sealed, bacteria can continue to thrive in the tooth, leading to re-infection. Endodontists have the knowledge and skills to properly clean and seal the canals to prevent bacteria from re-entering the tooth.
- Inadequate post-treatment care: After the root canal procedure, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene and receive regular check-ups and x-rays to ensure that the tooth is healing properly. Failing to do so can lead to re-infection. An endodontist will provide detailed instructions on how to take care of your tooth after the procedure, and they may schedule follow-up appointments to ensure the tooth is healing properly.
- Overfilled canals: Overfilling canals may result in a more significant apical constriction and ultimately lead to the failure of the root canal. An endodontist will have the knowledge and skill to determine the appropriate amount of filling material that should be used to avoid overfilling the canals.
- Fractured or Broken tooth: A fractured tooth will most likely lead to the failure of the root canal as it will be hard to clean the canals, and once the tooth is sealed, bacteria may remain and infect the tooth again. Endodontists have the knowledge and skills to treat a fracture or broken tooth, known as Endodontic Microsurgery, and it’s a technique that can save teeth that were once thought to be hopeless.
Symptoms of root canal failure can include:
- Persistent pain or sensitivity in the tooth, even after the root canal procedure
- Swelling, redness, or tenderness in the gums around the tooth
- A pimple-like bump on the gums near the tooth
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
- A lingering bad taste or odor in the mouth
If you experience any of these symptoms after a root canal procedure, you must get it evaluated immediately. Dr. Phan will use all available tools to diagnose and treat your failing root canal, but in some cases of root canal failure, the tooth may need to be retreated or extracted.