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Root canal failed? Infection? Need advice please!

J

jerseygirl2018

Junior member
Joined
Feb 28, 2018
Messages
15
Hi, I would be grateful if anyone can help answer some questions that I cannot seem to get a proper answer to. Why does a root canal fail? If you go to an endodontist who specialises in this treatment and carries it out under a microscope with all the most up to date equipment and says it was a success, then why does it fail? I know I may be naive here and, due to my chronic dental phobia I don't have much experience, but I simply don't know anyone (other than the lovely fellow forum posters here) who has spent thousands on a procedure to then be told it hasn't worked (even though everything looks perfect on x-rays) and all that stress and money was for nothing!

I have had a root canal retreated. It was originally done 20 years ago, crowned and never gave me an ounce of trouble. Suddenly it started hurting. Nobody can give me a proper explanation as to why this happens. Suddenly after 20 years it fails? Retreatment done, endo happy, all a success, temp crown on, and still the pain persists. Horrendous taste in my mouth. Extraction next step they say. Really? Nothing can be done? I just feel like the explanation as to what has failed is missing. No explanation to the bad taste either. Is this infection? Surely if someone charges you thousands and then says "sorry, it hasn't worked", that is not enough?

Some posters in the forum say to wait. That root canal teeth can take weeks to settle and suddenly improve. Is this sensible? If there is pain can it be anything other than infection if there are no fractures? Is a CBCT scan worth the risk and the cost to see if anything else can be revealed?

Sorry for so many questions but I would be grateful for answers as I am frustrated and feel helpess not getting proper explanations from either the endo or the dentist and don't know anyone who has been though anything similar. Thank you.
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,244
I understand that you cannot accept 'it failed' as an explanation, I wouldn't either.

Apart from the medical explanation for a 'failed root treatment', which I do not have... Your dentist should be able to explain to you what is happening / has happened, what might be the cause for it, what would be the suggested treatment and why and also, which options you have. They have to give you these information for you to be able to decide what treatment to accept, because it's your teeth and your health.

If your dentist(s) can't provide you the answers you need, my advice would be to keep looking until you find one(s) who can.
 
Judythecat

Judythecat

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 7, 2018
Messages
643
No answers, but I'm interested in this too. I've recently had a root canal and a re-treatment done by an endodontist (two different teeth) and he said that the success rate for a root canal is usually around 90%, and 70% for a re-treatment. From my extensive Googling, my understanding is the reasons for failure are mainly due to a missed canal branch, but I would assume that seeing a specialist rather than a general dentist would reduce the odds of that happening. I lost a lower molar in the summer after having RCT done by a general dentist who told me midway through that she couldn't locate one nerve. (In retrospect, I wish I had been referred on then, but I ended up having the tooth extracted about six weeks later because I was in so much pain.)

I was unsure about having the re-treatment as the tooth was giving me no problems - he found a missed canal when he x-rayed the neighbouring tooth, but it had been sitting quietly for years) and queried the idea that of every ten treatments, three would fail, given that a treatment can't be 70% successful. The dentist said that if those stats were based on his work, he would be out of a job, and because I am totally confident I am in good hands, I went ahead, and am due to have the second part next week.

I hope you get some answers. I guess nothing medical is an exact science when it comes to dealing with living tissue.
 
N

n2opls

Junior member
Joined
Mar 6, 2018
Messages
2
Location
BC
I had a root canal in july 2017. all seemed well until about jan 2018. i was feeling around in my mouth with my finger and felt a sore spot on the inner side of my gums at the root canal tooth. i was having a filling replaced so i mentioned it. the explanation given by my dentist - it's cracked on the underside of the tooth and xrays can't pick that up. part of me was wondering if they couldn't get to a branched-off root but i ended up getting it extracted last week =( i have a few unanswered questions which i'll never get answered, such as why it was cracked? was it due to the root canal treatment itself that weakened the tooth? was there anything more the dentist could've done to re-enforce the tooth? was there something else that would've been done to prevent me from losing it? =(
 
AngelCatMei

AngelCatMei

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2017
Messages
87
Location
Singapore
I had a root canal in july 2017. all seemed well until about jan 2018. i was feeling around in my mouth with my finger and felt a sore spot on the inner side of my gums at the root canal tooth. i was having a filling replaced so i mentioned it. the explanation given by my dentist - it's cracked on the underside of the tooth and xrays can't pick that up. part of me was wondering if they couldn't get to a branched-off root but i ended up getting it extracted last week =( i have a few unanswered questions which i'll never get answered, such as why it was cracked? was it due to the root canal treatment itself that weakened the tooth? was there anything more the dentist could've done to re-enforce the tooth? was there something else that would've been done to prevent me from losing it? =(

I am having the same issues too. I am 5 month into root canal and lately, it started to feel weird. It's a come and goes pain, sometimes there will be throbbing feel too. Mentioned it to the dentist who did my root canal as well as my braces, she said that it might be due to the elastic force and teeth movement. It did moved however I am not convince that it will cause a throbbing feel.

I went to took an x-ray with another dentist as my usual dentist doesn't seems to care as she think that it is nothing (ofc, it's not her tooth). Second dentist say that there seems to be an infection in one of the root, I showed her my pre-root canal x-ray and she said however it seems to be healing well as the infection is getting smaller (I believe she means that the bone are filling in).

It is always sore after an adjustment therefore I'm not sure is it due to lingering infection or the ligament is just stressed out. I'm going on a vacation soon and it is definitely gonna be a mood spoiler if this tooth flare up. If I could, I would just ask the dentist to yank this tooth out of my jaw.. However I'm in the mid of braces treatment and this tooth is my first molar which has a molar band on it and I'm not too sure if yanking it out will affect the braces progress.

Sorry about sharing my story here but I just want to say that I wonder why does root canal failed too and I realized most dentist don't really care to explain why or perhaps they're unsure about it too since there is no guarantee answers in medical industry..
 
Gordon

Gordon

Administrator
Staff member
Verified dentist
Joined
Oct 25, 2005
Messages
7,857
Because they do.

I'm sorry but when you're dealing with a very complex biological system, sometimes things can happen in ways that we can't predict and can't account for.

I've already gone over this in a different thread, but a RCT cannot completely seal up the canal system of a tooth, the bugs can still find ways to get past the sealant. The whole objective is to try to seal the canal space enough that the minimal number of bugs can get out into the spaces beyond and cause mischief.

Bear in mind also that for a tooth to need RCT in the first place, it's already heavily compromised due to decay, the structure has been damaged badly and there are loads of bacteria in the microscopic spaces in the dentine tubules etc. Because of this, bacteria will almost always find ways back into the canal spaces and from there into the danger zone around the apexes of the roots.

There's also a massive difference in people's immune systems response to any bugs that manage to get into the apex system, probably even in the same person but at different times the response varies.

In short, as dentists, we don't like the situation any more than you patients do, probably worse actually, most dentists are terrible at self flagellation when things don't go as we hope, but there really is nothing we can do about it at the current state of our knowledge.
 
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