FAQ's about Endodontic Retreatment

Is retreatment the best choice for me?

Retreated teeth can function well for years even for a lifetime. Always try to save the tooth if your endodontist believes retreatment is the best option for you.

Advances in technology are constantly changing the way root canal treatment is performed, so your endodontist may even be able to use a new technique that was not available when you had your first procedure.  If your tooth has unusual anatomy that was not cleaned and sealed during the first procedure, your endodontist may be able to resolve this problem with a second treatment.

Of course, there are no guarantees with any dental or medical procedure.  Your endodontist will discuss your options and the chances of success before beginning retreatment.

How much will the procedure cost?

The cost varies depending on how complicated the procedure might be due to some different factors.   The procedure will probably be more complex than your first root canal treatment, because your restoration and filling material may need to be removed to accomplish the new procedure.  In addition, your endodontist may need to spend extra time searching for unusual canal anatomy.  Therefore, you can generally expect retreatment to cost more than the initial endodontic treatment.

While dental insurance may cover part or all of the cost for retreatment, some policies limit coverage to a single procedure on a tooth in a given period of time.  Check with your employer or insurance company prior to treatment to be sure of your coverage.

What are the alternatives to retreatment?

For some patients considering retreatment, endodontic surgery is also an option.  This surgery involves making an incision near the end of the root to allow the tip of the root to be sealed.  Endodontic surgery may be recommended in conjunction with retreatment or as an alternative.  Your endodontist will discuss these options and recommend appropriate treatment.

Sometimes, the only other alternative is extraction of the tooth.  The extracted tooth must then be replaced with an implant, bridge, or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting.  These options can be far more costly and time consuming than retreatment and restoration of the natural tooth because extensive surgery or dental surgery on adjacent teeth could be required. 

No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are – and they can be very effective – nothing is as good as your natural tooth.  You've already made an investment in saving your tooth.  The payoff for choosing retreatment could be a healthy, functioning natural tooth for many years to come.

Parts of this content are provided courtesy of the American Association of Endodontics, Copyright 1996.  For more information, please link to their website at http://www.aae.org/