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Root Canals

2nd root canal?



I had a root canal on this tooth 10yrs ago. This past weekend it started hurting really really bad. Went to the dentist on Monday and I was told that it was abcessed. I was informed that I needed another root canal. Should I have the tooth pulled? I thought once that you had a root canal the roots were gone. How can this be possible?


A root canal procedure does not remove the root of the tooth. It merely removes the tissue inside the root. Think of the root as a hollow pipe - the root canal treatment cleans the inside of the pipe and fills it.

The reason a root canal may need to be redone is because there may be leakage, over time, of the filling or crown that was put over the tooth after the initial root canal treatment. All fillings and crowns can leak to some extent, and bacteria can then get access to the root canal filling. If this happens, the bacteria eventually get past the root canal filling and cause an infection of the bone. When this happens retreatment of the root canal is required to remove the contaminated material, redisinfect the inside of the root, and fill it. Often a new crown or filling will also need to be placed.

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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