Being told that you require root canal treatment might not be a particularly pleasant proposition. Dentists only perform this procedure when it's deemed that there's a likely chance of saving the tooth. It's less invasive than removing the tooth and installing a prosthetic replacement (and less expensive, too). But should there ever be cause for concern that your root canal treatment will be unsuccessful? Don't worry — the odds are very much in your favour. And even if you're one of the few whose initial treatment might not go as planned, there are plenty of further options that can be pursued.
The Odds Are In Your Favour
The odds of success of root canal treatment are high. Some 97% of root canal patients retain the tooth in question eight years after the procedure, meaning that their treatment can be classified as a long-term success. Proper dental hygiene can go a long way in ensuring the long-term success of a root canal, or indeed, any dental procedure. But what about those few whose treatment might be unsuccessful?
Root canals require the excavation of the dental pulp chamber (which hosts the nerve inside the tooth), along with the removal of the infected dental pulp. There is the central pulp chamber and also radicular pulp canals. If the root canal did not exhaustively extract the entirety of infected pulp from all the canals inside the tooth, then the infection can certainly redevelop. Although this can be classified as a failed root canal treatment, it's generally rectified with a second treatment, often following an extensive examination of the tooth using additional X-rays, a radiograph or other methods to clearly identify all pulp chambers. Although it's an inconvenience to go through the process again, it's far better than a recurrence of the infection, which might lead to the ultimate loss of the tooth.
Trouble at the Tip
All the infected chambers and canals of the tooth might have been efficiently cleared during the initial procedure, and yet there can still be a recurrence of the infection. There might be an issue with the tooth's root tip, whereby a small breach will lead to reinfection of the chamber. In these cases, your dentist will suggest an apicoectomy, which is when the root tip is removed and a small filling is applied. This will seal the dental pulp chamber from beneath, preventing further infections of the site.
It might all sound a bit troublesome, but when compared to the alternatives, root canal treatment is often the most favourable option for saving a tooth.