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Root Canals

Failed root canals?



My wife had two root canals done in June of 2006 and I had one done by the same dentist in July of 2006. I began to have problems shortly after and by September 2006 was sent to an endodontist who saw me twice (Sept, then mid-Oct) and didn`t "see" anything, but set up an appointment to see me in February 07. Just a couple of weeks before my appointment, I developed a "pimple" over the root canal and now I was told I would either need to redo the root canal or have an apio. I saw an oral surgeon who said I needed the apio, which I had in late February due to the failed root canal. During this time, my wife also developed two "pimples" over her root canals and in late March she had to have apio. The first apio`s did not work and so they went in to clean them up again and it appears that they will not solve the issue.

My question is what are the chances of three root canals (two on my wife and one on me) all failing? Could there be an issue with materials used or something? Secondly, are the only alternatives available to us concerning my wife the pulling of the teeth (which I have yet to pay off)? This has killed us financially and we are looking for some answers.


Unfortunately, I really cannot tell you why all 3 teeth had to have further treatment (apico's) since I am not able to evaluate the cases directly. The number of potential problems are very numerous and range from missed (untreated canals), under-prepared root canals, leaking restorations, cracked teeth, or even gum disease. There are just too many to list.

The recommended treatment protocol is to retreat a root canal when there is a lack of healing or reinfection of the tooth (which appears to be the case in all 3 teeth you described). However, if the teeth cannot be retreated conventionally due to posts or very esthetic crowns, then an apical surgery may be performed. The problem is that apical surgery only eliminates the immediate infection and may not resolve the long-standing problem of a reinfected root canal or a leaking restoration (crown). That is what the retreatment aims to do.

You may need to see the endodontist again and have these teeth re-evaluated for possible retreatment, even after the surgery. It may be the only way to save these teeth.

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Response by:

John M Nusstein, DDS John M Nusstein, DDS
Associate Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University