Root Canals Part II

Q: My dentist told me the root canal I had is failing and my tooth is infected again.  How can that happen and what are my options?

A: It is not unusual for teeth that have been previously treated with root canal therapy to become infected again many months or years after the initial treatment.  Sometimes, after root canal therapy, bacteria can re-populate the space inside the root of the tooth by entering microscopic cracks or openings in the tooth structure.  In some cases, bacteria that remain in the tooth, even after seemingly successful root canal therapy, can cause a tooth to become infected long after the root canal has been completed.  There are two options to treat a tooth that has become re-infected after having root canal therapy.  In most cases, root canal therapy can be done again to clean and disinfect the inside of the tooth.  Root canal re-treatment is usually successful but there still remains a possibility of future infection.  The only alternative to root canal re-treatment is extraction.  Every tooth and every situation is different, however.  Some teeth are best served by re-treating the root canal while others should be extracted.  If you find yourself with this dilemma, ask your dentist what options are available to you.