When Too Many Root Canals May Be a Problem
What Is a Root Canal?
The term itself points to the inner layers of teeth, often the part comprising the pulp (the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues) and the tooth root. However, often a root canal in Oshawa, ON, describes a dental procedure that treats a diseased or infected tooth. The procedure involves removing the damaged or infected pulp, cleaning and shaping the insides, then filling and sealing the space with a special dental material.
When Do You Need a Root Canal Procedure?
A root canal procedure is necessary when the pulp becomes infected or inflamed. You may not always know that you need treatment until you experience signs that disrupt your normal oral function and comfort. Some signs and symptoms that you need for a root canal procedure are:
- A persistent and severe toothache
- Sensitivity to hot and cold – experiences as a sudden or lingering pain when you consume hot or cold food or drinks
- Swelling and tenderness of the gums around a tooth
- Discolored tooth – especially if it has turned dark
- Persistent bad breath or taste in the mouth
What Will the Procedure Entail?
A root canal treatment can happen in multiple dental visits, depending on the state of your tooth when you first visit a dentist. The dentist will perform a few steps in a typical root canal procedure, which are:
- First, numbing the area around the affected tooth with a local anesthetic
- Creating an opening in the top of the tooth to access the inner layers
- Removing the damaged or infected pulp from inside the tooth using special dental instruments
- Cleaning and shaping the inside of the root canal to remove any remaining debris or bacteria
- Filling the root canal with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha to seal the space
- Placing a temporary filling to seal the opening in the tooth
- Installing the tooth with a permanent filling or crown over the tooth to restore its function and appearance
How Successful Is Such a Treatment?
Root canal procedures have a high success rate and are a common way to save a damaged or infected tooth. According to the American Association of Endodontists, the success rate for a root canal procedure is about 95%. Long-term success is different for patients as it depends on various factors including the extent of the initial damage or infection, the quality of the treatment, and your overall oral health.
Therefore, if after the procedure you do not practice good oral hygiene and see a dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, you may need retreatment.
When Do You Need Retreatment for Root Canal Therapy?
Retreatment for root canal therapy is often necessary if the initial procedure was unsuccessful or the tooth is infected again after the treatment. Here are some common reasons why a retreatment may be necessary:
- Incomplete removal of the infected tissue during the initial endodontic therapy
- Narrow, curved, or generally complex canal structures missed during the initial root canal procedure
- Delay in placing a dental crown or filling on the tooth after the first root canal treatment, allowing bacteria to re-enter the tooth
- Development of new cavities, decay, or damage to the tooth, allowing bacteria to access the inner layers
- A crack or fracture in the treated tooth exposes the tooth to bacteria and causes reinfection.
How Many Times Can a Dentist Retreat Your Tooth with Root Canal?
Generally, several reasons determine the number of times a dentist in Oshawa, ON can retreat a tooth with a root canal. Examples include, reasons for the failure of the first root canal, the initial condition of the tooth, and your overall oral health.
At Conlin Dentistry, we can retreat a tooth about once or twice. However, we let our patients know that the success rate decreases with each subsequent treatment. Any more root canal procedures on the same tooth will tremendously weaken it, also affecting the surrounding tissues and adjacent teeth. After one or two retreatments, you must consider removing the tooth and instead, explore tooth replacement solutions.