What do you know about the difference between nonsurgical root canal treatments, surgical retreatments and dental implants? You are probably like most people and can maybe guess. We are here to answer your questions!
Surgical vs. Nonsurgical Root Canal Therapy
When our endodontist mentions root canals, a nonsurgical root canal is generally recommended. The great news is the average root canal is almost always a success. It makes most patients happy because it’s also the least invasive option when it comes to endodontic treatment in general.
Think of a root canal as having a very deep filling placed in a tooth, where the tooth is cleaned and filled to seal a cavity. With a nonsurgical root canal, this happens deeper into the tooth, so we can reach the root canal and clean and fill it. Anesthetics makes both procedures a comfortable experience for you.
Apicoectomy (Root Canal Surgery)
Should the tooth infection be severe, or we can’t see the tooth fracture in your dental X-ray, our endodontist may recommend a surgical root canal to remedy the situation. An apicoectomy means making an incision into the gums. It then allows us to get to the infected tissue from the sides so we can get it all out. Thankfully, when a tooth has an infection in the roots, they alert you via pain so that you seek early treatment while it is most easily resolved. For this reason, most of the root canals performed are completed nonsurgically.
What Happens When a Root Canal Fails?
If an infection comes back after having a root canal – whether months or years later – they will likely need to be treated again. It can happen when there are multiple canals in the roots, which can occur with molars in the back of the mouth. If there was a crack in a root, it could have escaped the dentist’s attention when doing the initial root canal or failing to seal it, resulting in reinfection. Or perhaps there was some obstruction in the tooth, and the dentist couldn’t completely clean it out. Sometimes a crown can crack after being placed onto a tooth (that has had a root canal) causing reinfection. Also, if the inner seal erodes over time, bacteria can seep into the root canals, causing reinfection.
Root Canal Retreatment
Again, we typically try to save a tooth when at all possible. Having a root canal retreatment means going back in, taking out the filling, cleaning out the canal, and disinfecting it, then resealing it. If you had a post and a crown placed to complete the original root canal, an incision can be made in the gums, allowing us to reach the tooth and remove the infection and sealing it. Sutures are then placed to close the incision.
If the tooth is beyond saving, we may recommend pulling it and having a dental implant restoration. Dental implants have a high success rate and leave your smile looking natural while functioning like a natural tooth. A biocompatible post is placed where a tooth root should be and anchors it into the bone. Once the implant has fused with the bone, a crown will be placed over it, so it blends in with your surrounding teeth.
Which Solution Is Right for You?
A root canal is the least invasive and least costly choice when it comes to saving a severely damaged tooth. Retreatment of that same tooth can be done if reinfection occurs, but if it doesn’t, then you’ll need to have that tooth pulled and replaced with a dental implant or other tooth replacement substitute. Much like your natural teeth, dental implants have the ability to prevent facial bone loss, supporting your facial structure, and last for many years with good at-home dental care and routine dental cleanings and checkups.
If you have any questions or concerns about a possible root canal, retreatment, or dental implant, please give our skilled and experienced team a call today!