Teeth treated with non-surgical endodontic treatment showed a high survival rate after five years. So if you do RCT for the first time it is around 90% and if you redo is around 88%. Despite the high success and survival rate, root canal treatment may fail when the treatment is carried out inadequately. There are some cases in which the treatment has followed high standards yet still results in failure.

root canal treatment

What causes root canal re-infections?

There are many reasons why a tooth can have an infection after a root canal, these include: 

shape of root canals
  • The shape of root canals can be very complicated and areas of infection may go undetected in the first procedure;
  • Your tooth could have narrow or curved canals that weren’t fully cleaned and disinfected during the root canal treatment; 
  • Your tooth may also have extra accessory canals that could be housing bacteria that may re-infect the tooth;
  • If the placement of the crown or permanent restoration is delayed following treatment, it could allow harmful bacteria back into your tooth;
  • Your tooth may get a new cavity after treatment or become cracked or damaged leading to a new root canal infection.

However, if you have any of the characteristics below, your root canal treated teeth have a higher chance to last longer at least five years: 

  • Female
  • Less than 20 years of age,
  • Hospital as the institution type
  • Lower teeth
  • Front teeth
  • First time doing the root canal treatment
  • The use of a rubber dam
Here are some common signs and symptoms of a root canal infection that means you should schedule another visit to a dentist:
bad breath

Pain or discomfort ranging from mild tenderness to unbearable pain, especially when you apply pressure from eating or pressing on a tooth or expose the tooth to extreme temperature, pus discharge that’s greenish, yellowish, or otherwise discolored; red, warm, swollen tissue near the tooth especially the gums under or around the tooth, in some cases the swelling can affect your face and neck too; a bad taste in your mouth or bad smell to your breath from infected tissue.

If your root canal has been re-infected there are four options that you can consider. The options are listed from the most ideal to the least ideal.  

First is the non-surgical retreatment where the dentist will remove the old root filling material and clean the canals again before sealing them out.

The second option is surgical endodontics. It has a success rate of 92% using a modern approach compared to 67.5% using a traditional approach, where a dentist may do a small operation to remove the root portion of your tooth and seal that up with some material and stitch up the wound.

implant bridge denture

The third option would be extraction followed by the replacement option, where you can replace the missing tooth with an implant, bridge, denture, or even do nothing.

And the last option, which is the least favorable is implantation. Implantation is a process where the same tooth or another tooth is removed, de-nerved, and placed on the extraction side. It may not be the most ideal option because it has its pros and cons but it could be one of the choices to restore chewing function for the patients.

Hope this helped you. If you have any questions, please leave comments below.

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