How Can Root Canal Treatment Fail?
Although our root canal treatments are highly successful, there may be instances where treatment may fail. To ensure this doesn’t happen, we have strict protocols in place that prevent such unexpected problems from occurring.
Furthermore, we use only the very best quality of treatment products, techniques and technology. These treatments are also only carried out by highly qualified and trained dentists with a huge amount of experience.
In rare circumstances the complications of root canal therapy include:
- It is possible for a segment of a file to break in your root canal. Since we use high-quality new instruments for each tooth and they are used only once, the chances of this occurring are very slim. In most cases, the separated instrument can be taken out again or bypassed. The files are titanium-based (inert metal, like any implant material) and do not cause any allergic reactions.
- Residual infection due to a canal not being cleaned or filled completely due to complex anatomy.
- Failing or a leaking filling or a crown leading to bacterial re-infection post root canal treatment.
- Certain bacteria may not respond to root canal therapy.
- About 10% of root canal treated teeth are lost due to periodontal disease (gum disease), splits or fractures of the root(s).
- A certain percentage (5 to 10 percent) of root canals will fail and may require re-treatment, surgery, or extraction.
- Non-surgical endodontic treatment may require more than one appointment. Failure to keep your appointment prolongs treatment, affects your comfort, and reduces the success rate.
- When making an access (opening) through an existing crown or placing a rubber dam clamp, possible damage can occur and a new crown may be necessary after endodontic therapy.
- Successful completion of the root canal procedure does not prevent future decay or fracture.
- Complication of root canal therapy and local anaesthesia may include swelling, pain, trismus (restricted jaw opening), infection, bleeding, sinus involvement and numbness or tingling of the lip, gum or tongue, which rarely occurs and even more rarely permanent.
- To protect your tooth from decaying or fracturing, you must return to your dentist for a permanent filling or crown within a maximum of 6 weeks after the completion of root canal therapy. Failure to follow up with the final restoration in a timely manner may result in the failure of the root canal treatment.
- There are risks involved in the administration of anesthetics, analgesics (pain medication) and antibiotics. You should inform the dentist of any previous side effects or allergies that you may have experienced.
On certain occasions we can attempt to save a tooth with a failed root filling by performing an apicectmy.
Medically reviewed & updated on September 7, 2019