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Should You Remove a Tooth that has had Root Canal Treatment?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Imagine this scenario: One of your teeth was infected or cracked, so your dentist recommended a root canal to ease your discomfort and save the tooth. The procedure went well, but now the discomfort has returned and you're wondering if you made the right choice. Plus, you've been doing some research and have come across articles claiming root canals do more harm than good.

Is your best option to remove a tooth that has had root canal treatment? First, it's essential to discover what's causing the discomfort and explore your retreatment options.

Root Canal Facts and Fiction

While it is disappointing that you're still experiencing discomfort after your root canal treatment, you can rest assured that a root canal does more to help you than to harm you. As the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) points out, claims that root canal treatments can make you sick or cause disease are false.

Your dental team is there to help you find a solution to your discomfort and to help ensure that your teeth are healthy. In many cases, root canal treated teeth can last a lifetime and won't require removal.

Why Is Your Tooth Still Bothering You?

The majority of people who have root canal treatment enjoy a positive result. But there is still a small chance that something could go wrong with the tooth after treatment. A paper published in the European Journal of Dentistry notes several factors that can affect the success of a root canal treatment, including:

  • Inadequately filled canals
  • Overfilled canals
  • Persistent bacterial infection
  • Leakage from the seal
  • Canals that are left untreated
  • Complications from instrumentation during treatment

Should You Remove a Root Canal Tooth?

If you have a treated tooth that's still causing you pain and discomfort, you might think that the simplest option is to pull the tooth. Luckily, ongoing discomfort in the tooth doesn't usually mean that you need to remove it. The American Association of Endodontists stresses that saving your teeth is always the best option. If your tooth continues to bother you after a root canal treatment, talk to your dentist. They may recommend endodontic retreatment to correct ongoing issues with the tooth or to fix new problems that have developed.

Retreatment techniques typically provide the best long-term outcome for the patient, and they have a high success rate. An extraction can wind up, costing you more in both time and money. You'll also need to replace the tooth with a bridge, implant, or partial denture.

Retreatment Options

Endodontic retreatment is similar to the initial root canal treatment you had. Your endodontist will remove the crown from the affected tooth so they can access the canal. They will then remove the filling and clean the canal. They'll inspect the tooth and canal to look for any new signs of infection or damage to the tooth and then refill the tooth and place a temporary crown or filling over the top. If problems persist, your dentist or endodontist might even recommend endodontic surgery, such as an apicoectomy, which removes the tip of the tooth's root.

If your tooth is bothering you, you can feel comforted knowing that your dentist and endodontist will do everything they can to save the tooth and keep you healthy and happy. Speak to your dentist today to discuss the many options that are available to determine the right plan for you.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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