Root canal treatments are successful over 95% of the time. Though the success rate is high, a few people do experience root canal failure. Here are some causes of root canal failure and alternative treatments that may help.
Potential Causes of Failure
You should suspect that your root canal has failed if you can still feel pain several days after the procedure or if the pain subsides then comes back after some time. Here are some of the possible reasons for the treatment's failure.
Cracks on the Tooth
If the infected tooth is cracked, some bacteria might hide in the crack and re-infect the tooth after the treatment. This may be the case even if the dentist properly cleans and seals the tooth's root. Reinfection is possible for two main reasons. First, some cracks are so minuscule that the dentist might not even notice their presence. Secondly, even if a dentist notices cracks on the tooth, there is no way the dentist can clean up the small cracks as they do with the tooth canals.
Coronal leakage is a situation where bacteria in the mouth manage to find their way into the treated tooth via the dental crown (part of the tooth above the gum line). Coronal leakage is also a reinfection issue; the main difference is that the responsible bacteria originate outside the treated tooth.
There is no definite shape or size that root canals must follow; the canals come in all manner of shapes and sizes. Moreover, some of these canals wind and have relatively small diameters. Therefore, it's possible that the dentist might fail to clean and seal all of the canals properly.
You may be eligible for root canal re-treatment if the first attempt isn't successful. There are also alternative treatments you might try instead of retreatment or even before the initial treatment. Here are some of these alternatives.
Extraction and Replacement
You can extract the affected tooth and replace it with an artificial tooth, such as a dental implant. The main objective of a root canal treatment is to get rid of tooth infection and save the natural tooth. Extraction and replacement meet only one of these objectives — it gets rid of the infection. Besides, the tooth implant isn't susceptible to bacterial attacks like natural teeth.
Direct Pulp Capping
Direct pulp capping, which is a relatively new treatment, involves sealing the affected tooth nerves with an adhesive. This is in contrast to the root canal treatment, where the dentist removes affected tissues. Although the procedure is not widely used, it is relatively simple and takes only one visit to the dentist.
Talk with a general dentist if you suspect that your root canal has failed or about one of these alternative treatments.