In many cases of root canal treatment, your saved tooth will last a lifetime; but not every case is cut and dry. If you've already had endodontic treatment and you're experiencing issues again, or if you've been told that a root canal procedure is no longer an option for you, know that there are endodontic treatment alternatives.
During retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth and remove the filling materials that were placed in the root canals during the first procedure. The endodontist then carefully examines the tooth, looking for additional canals or new infection. The endodontist then removes any infection, cleans and shapes the canals, and places new filling materials. The opening is then sealed with a temporary filling. The tooth should then be restored with a more permanent restoration to seal and protect it. In some cases the endodontist may be the one to seal the tooth more permanently in preparation for the general dentist to place a crown.
Endodontic surgery can be used to locate small fractures or hidden canals previously undetected on X-rays during the initial treatment. Surgery may also be needed to remove calcium deposits in root canals, or to treat damaged root surfaces or the surrounding bone of the tooth.
There’s no need to worry about surgery if your endodontist prescribes this additional measure. Advanced technologies like digital imaging and operating microscopes allow these procedures to be performed quickly, comfortably and successfully. There are many surgical procedures that can be performed to save a tooth. The most common is called an apicoectomy, or root-end resection, which may be needed when inflammation or infection persists in the bony area around the end of your tooth after a root canal procedure.
Do everything possible to save your teeth before considering extraction – it should always be a last resort!
If an endodontic procedure can’t save your tooth and it must be extracted, you should consider a dental implant that will enable you to bite and chew properly, keep healthy teeth from shifting, and help you maintain a natural appearance. Carefully discuss your options for treatment with your dental team to ensure you pick the treatment that is best for your overall health.