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Endodontic Retreatment 

Even with the best care, endodontic treatments occasionally need to be repeated.  The most common repeated endodontic treatment is for an unsuccessful root canal that leads to endodontic infection.  Initial treatments may fail for many reasons.  Repeated endodontic treatments are used to restore the health of your tooth and prevent surgical treatment or tooth removal.
Endodontic retreatment may be necessary because of improper healing following root canal treatment.  This may happen if curved, narrow, or complexly shaped canals were not detected or treated during the initial treatment.  Leakage and contamination may occur if the crown or restoration was not placed in time or if it did not completely seal the tooth.  New problems may occur as well and contribute to endodontic infection, including new decay, cracked teeth, or loose fillings.

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You may experience symptoms months or years after your initial root canal treatment.  Your tooth may hurt, feel sensitive, be unstable, or appear discolored.  You should contact your dentist as soon as you experience symptoms.

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Your dentist can diagnose an endodontic infection with a thorough dental examination.  Your dentist will look at your tooth on X-rays and may perform some simple diagnostic tests.  Your dentist will refer you to an endodontist, a dentist with special training in tooth and gum disease, for endodontic retreatment.

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The length of your treatment depends on the extent of your condition.  Endodontic retreatment typically is completed in one to three visits.  A local anesthesia will numb your gums for the procedure.
Your endodontist will make a small opening and remove the buildup material, obstructions, and filling from your former root canal.  Your endodontist will carefully inspect your tooth with a microscope.  Your root canals will be cleaned, shaped, and filled with a rubber-like compound.  They will be sealed to prevent bacteria from reentering the tooth.  The opening in your tooth’s crown may be restored or sealed with a temporary filling.  If you receive a temporary filling, you will need to have your dentist place a new crown on your tooth as soon as possible.  It is important to attend your follow-up visits with your endodontist so that your healing progress can be monitored.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit