North Downtown Seattle Dental - John Starks, D.D.S.
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509 Olive Way, Suite 720, Seattle, WA 98101

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Letter from Dr. Starks

Your dental health is important, and our patients' safety is our top priority. Please read our office update letter on COVID-19

Root Canal Retreatment

Why do I need another endodontic procedure?

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

•  Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure

Endodontic treatment and root canal therapy by dentist in Seattle, WA.

•  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

In other cases, a new problem can jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated. For example:

•  New decay can expose the root canal filling material to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth

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•  A loose, cracked or broken crown or filling can expose the tooth to new infection
•  A tooth sustains a fracture

What will happen during retreatment?

First, your dentist will discuss your treatment options. If you and your dentist choose retreatment, your tooth will be reopened to gain access to the root canal filling material. In many cases, complex restorative materials - crown, post, and core material - must be disassembled and removed to permit access to the root canals.

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After removing the canal filling, your dentist can clean the canals and carefully examine the inside of your tooth using magnification and illumination, searching for any additional canals or unusual anatomy that requires treatment.

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After cleaning the canals, your dentist will fill and seal the canals and place a temporary filling in the tooth. If the canals are unusually narrow or blocked, endodontic surgery may be recommended. This surgery involves making an incision to allow the other end of the root to be sealed.

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After your dentist completes retreatment, you will need have a new crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

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Is retreatment the best choice for me?

Whenever possible, it is best to save your natural tooth. 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 dentist may use new techniques that were not available when you had your first procedure. Your dentist may be able to resolve your problem with retreatment.

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

What are the alternatives to retreatment?

If nonsurgical retreatment is not an option, then endodontic surgery should be considered. This surgery involves making an incision to allow access to the tip of the root. Endodontic surgery may also be recommended in conjunction with retreatment or as an alternative. Your dentist will discuss your options and recommend appropriate treatment.

What are the alternatives to endodontic retreatment and/or endodontic surgery?

The only other alternative is extraction of the tooth. The extracted tooth must then be replaced with a bridge, removable partial denture or implant to restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. Because these options require extensive surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth, they can be far more costly and time consuming than retreatment and restoration of the natural tooth.

No matter how effective tooth replacements are – 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.

Information provided courtesy of the American Academy of Endodontists. Copyright© 1995-2012.
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(206) 623-7783
509 Olive Way, Suite 720, Seattle, WA 98101
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