Root canal retreatment: How many times can a root canal be retreated?

Root canal retreatment involves the removal of the previous crown and packing material, the cleansing of the root canals, and the re-packing and re-crowning of the tooth. To summaries, root canal retreatment is similar to the original procedure, aside from the structural removal.

What Are the Symptoms of a Failed Root Canal?

The signs of a root canal failure may include:

  • Sensitivity when biting down.
  • A pimple or boil on the jaw.
  • Discoloration of the tooth.
  • Tenderness in the gum tissue near where the root canal was performed.
  • Pain in the tooth you had treated.
  • Presence of pus-filled abscesses near the treated tooth.
  • Facial or neck swelling.
  • Swelling near the affected tooth.

Remember that a bit of pain following a root canal is normal — you may feel discomfort for several days afterward. You should become more concerned about pain that continues long after that.

The bacteria might become Resistant which could necessitate more specialised treatment.

Some of these issues do not give rise to symptoms, but can give rise to chronic infection, x-ray picture shows these infections as small black area around the end of an affected root.

Why do you need a root canal retreatment?

As occasionally happens with any dental or medical procedure, a tooth may not heal as anticipated after initial treatment for a variety of reasons:

need a root canal retreatment


  • Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure.
  • Complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the first procedure.
  • The placement of the crown or other restoration was delayed following the endodontic treatment.
  • The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth.

Root canal retreatment procedure 

The root canal retreatment procedure involves reopening the tooth to gain access into the root canal system. Majority of the time, the existing crown on the tooth can be retained.


canal retreatment procedure


Following removal of the existing root filling, the canals are properly cleaned to specialist standards. Once re-cleaned, the canals are carefully examined with an operating microscope to search for any additional canals or unusual anatomy that requires management. A new root filling is subsequently placed followed by a new restoration. You will be referred back to your dentist if a new crown is required.

Root canal retreatment recovery and after care 

Like regular root canal treatment the retreatment recovery should only take 2-3 days. The pain will subside fairly quickly. And the long term after care is almost identical to root canal treatment, keep flossing and brushing daily and schedule biannual cleanings at the dentist to ensure your teeth stay healthy. Just make sure that you are more vigilant about your treated tooth and report any complication to your dentist as soon as possible.


Is retreatment the best choice for me?

If possible, it is best to save your natural tooth. Most retreated teeth can function well for years, even for a lifetime.

Advances in technology are constantly changing the way root canal treatment is performed, so your endodontist may use new techniques that were not available when you had your first procedure. Your endodontist may be able to resolve your problem with retreatment, but there are no 100% guarantees, sometimes the tooth is just beyond saving and extracting the tooth might be the best option.

What are risk involved with root canal retreatment? 

Root canal retreatment is considered safe, however there are certain risks and complications associated with the procedure. Some of these risks include chipping or damaging the tooth and repeated infections. Patients can minimize these risks by adhering to pre and post procedure instructions.

How successful is root canal retreatment?

The success chance of this procedure is high for many patients. Permanent results can be reached from a root canal retreatment, with the treated tooth functioning properly throughout the patient’s lifetime. There is always a risk that the retreatment procedure will be unsuccessful, or that infection will reoccur. Retreatment procedures have a lower success rate than initial root canal procedures. If a re-treatment procedure is unsuccessful, extraction or surgery may be needed.