What Happens If My Root Canal Fails?

People often shiver with dread when they hear the words “root canal.” But endodontists and dentists perform approximately 15 million of them each year — and their patients don’t feel a thing. In fact, getting a root canal should ease any discomfort you have in the tooth completely.

But what if it doesn’t?

Robert Scott Nance, DDS, MS, PA, is an experienced endodontist who brings his advanced skills in performing root canals to each of his private practice locations in Statesville and Hickory, North Carolina. 

Here, Dr. Nance explains why these procedures sometimes fail and when to seek additional treatment.

The goal of a root canal

Root canals have a bad rap, but they can save a tooth affected by damage, infection, or decay.

While a tooth may seem completely solid, the very center contains soft tissue known as pulp. This interior chamber — or root canal — contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. These elements form the hard exterior tissue of a tooth during development.

Unlike the portion of a tooth you can see, the root canal chamber that has the pulp extends deep into the jaw, where it connects with tissue surrounding the tooth roots. 

Dr. Nance performs a root canal to treat this type of tissue when the pulp becomes infected or inflamed.

How root canals work

During a root canal, Dr. Nance makes a small opening in the tooth to access the pulp and remove it. 

Then, he cleans and disinfects the inside of the tooth before filling the empty space and sealing the opening he made. Dr. Nance could also cover the tooth with a crown for added strength and protection.

This procedure restores the health and function of your tooth, which no longer needs the pulp once a tooth fully develops.

Root canals usually require more than one visit to restore the tooth to full function.

When root canals fail

The good news is that most root canals respond to a single treatment. However, there are some cases when they don’t.

Common reasons for unsuccessful root canal treatment include:

Root canals can also fail when an endodontist can’t see an extra canal in the tooth. For instance, a tooth could have four root canals, but they only spot (and treat) three. Similarly, root canals can also contain obstructions or curves that interfere with cleaning.

While it’s normal to have a little tenderness or sensitivity after a root canal, it should disappear within a few days. If it doesn't, or your pain seems severe, it could be a sign that your root canal wasn’t successful.

What to do when a root canal fails

If your symptoms persist or worsen after your root canal, it’s time to schedule an evaluation. Dr. Nance assesses the tooth and provides personalized recommendations to address the issue.

Depending on the cause of your root canal failure, Dr. Nance might suggest an additional root canal, a root-end resection, or extracting the tooth.

Facing a root canal can seem scary, but it’s crucial not to delay treatment — especially if your first procedure fails. Without care, you can lose your tooth, and the infection could spread to other teeth or your jawbone.

Did your root canal fail? Don’t wait to get the expert care you need. Schedule a consultation with Robert Scott Nance, DDS, MS, PA, in Statesville or Hickory today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

4 Traumatic Dental Injuries and How They're Treate

4 Traumatic Dental Injuries and How They're Treate

If you knock out or break a tooth, you may think that all is lost. Visions of implants or dentures may paralyze you and keep you from taking the actions that can save your tooth. Act fast when there’s a dental emergency to get the treatment you need.
Gum Disease and Diabetes 

Gum Disease and Diabetes 

Were you aware that November is Diabetes Awareness Month? Or that gum disease and diabetes have important links that impact your health? How and why are two such seemingly unrelated conditions related? Find out here. 
Do All Types of Tooth Cracks Need to Be Repaired?

Do All Types of Tooth Cracks Need to Be Repaired?

Tooth cracks aren’t uncommon, and sometimes, they can be so small, they seem hardly worth worrying about. But even a tiny crack can cause serious problems without prompt care. Here’s why it’s always important to treat a cracked tooth.