Americans are coming around to root canals, and it’s a good thing, too, because this unfairly maligned procedure is a great way to take a highly damaged and painful infected tooth and turn it back into a productive member of your smile. A root canal is a very successful procedure–the success rate is 95% or more, depending on how experienced your dentist is–but sometimes it doesn’t work and you have a tooth that is still infected.
If this is the case, you may be given the choice between a corrective root canal and a dental implant. Which is best?
Causes of Failed Root Canals
Whether a second root canal is better than a dental implant depends on why your root canal failed in the first place. If, for example, it failed because the tooth root was broken in the procedure, then your tooth can’t be restored with a root canal and you have no option but to get an extraction and dental implant.
On the other hand, some common reasons for root canal failure can be corrected relatively easily. If your dentist just didn’t completely clean out the tooth, especially if there was a root that was missed, a second root canal can be expected to be successful.
Damage Since the First Root Canal
Another factor to consider is if your tooth is still in the good shape it was at the time of your first root canal. If your tooth was damaged during the procedure or by secondary infection, it might not be able to be restored with a second root canal. Another potential concern is that gum disease has progressed to the point that the tooth is threatened. In that case, a root canal may not be a good idea. (Of course, gum disease would still have to be treated before you receive a dental implant.
Do You Trust Your Dentist to Try Again?
And, finally, you have to ask yourself whether you want to let your dentist try the follow-up root canal or whether you want another dentist to look at the tooth and perform the procedure. Even if you still trust your dentist (and they’re not referring you to a specialist, which might also be appropriate), it’s a good idea to get a second opinion about the state of your tooth and whether a dental implant or a root canal is the better follow-up.