The Dental Clinic

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When is root canal retreatment necessary?

When Does Root Canal Retreatment Become Necessary? Everything You Should Know

A root canal procedure is a highly effective treatment that is often the last line of defense to save a severely infected or damaged tooth. But what happens when, after a root canal, you still experience pain or discomfort? In some cases, root canal retreatment – also called Endodontic Retreatment – becomes necessary. But how is the procedure done and what are the chances of you getting one? Let’s find out!

When is Root Canal Retreatment Necessary?

Persistent Pain

Experiencing persistent pain or discomfort in a tooth that has previously undergone a root canal is one of the most common reasons for considering rct retreatment. This discomfort can range from mild sensitivity to severe pain.


If the treated tooth becomes reinfected, retreatment is often the best course of action. This can happen if the original filling materials break down, or if bacteria find their way back into the tooth’s interior.

Unfinished healing

Sometimes, incomplete healing of the tissues around the treated tooth can result in ongoing pain, discomfort, or even the development of a cyst or abscess near the root of the tooth.

How is RCT Retreatment Carried Out?

Step 1: Access Opening

The endodontist begins by reopening the tooth. If a crown or filling was placed after the initial root canal, it is removed to access the interior of the tooth.

Step 2: Removal of Filling Material

The old filling materials, along with any debris or infected tissue, are carefully removed from the canals.

Step 3: Cleaning and Disinfection

Your endodontist will then thoroughly clean and disinfect the canals to remove any remaining infection. The canals may need to be reshaped to ensure they are free of debris.

Step 4: Sealing the Canals

After cleaning and disinfection, the canals are then sealed with new filling material to prevent further infection. In some cases, a temporary filling is used, while in others, a permanent filling or crown is placed.

Also read: When Do You Need a Dental Crown? Top Reasons and Considerations

Step 5: Follow-up

You’ll likely need to schedule a follow-up appointment after your retreatment. This allows the dentist to monitor the healing process and ensure the tooth is free of infection and pain.

Is root canal retreatment painful?

The procedure is typically not painful as some might imagine. Your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the area, ensuring you don’t feel pain. After the retreatment, you may experience some mild discomfort or sensitivity for a few days, similar to what you might have felt after the initial root canal. This discomfort can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and should subside as the tooth heals. Endodontic retreatment aims to alleviate pain and resolve dental issues, not cause it.

How often do root canals need to be retreated?

Root canals generally do not need to be retreated often. The success rate of initial root canal treatments is high, and most teeth remain healthy indefinitely. However, in some cases, retreatment might be necessary if there’s reinfection or incomplete healing. It’s a relatively uncommon occurrence, and the need for retreatment is assessed on a case-by-case basis by your dentist. Regular dental check-ups at The Dental Clinic can help detect any issues early, reducing the likelihood of retreatment.