It has been several years ago now that I had a root canal placed on my upper, left molar. A gold crown was placed on it after the root canal was completed. A couple of years ago, I started noticing pain on that same tooth which is surprising since the root canal had been completed and the tooth was fine for years. So, I was referred to an endodontist.
A fourth canal was discovered and it was treated. Then, after another year or so I ended up getting an abscess on that same tooth. So, I went back in to see the same endodontist who originally took care of that fourth canal. In all fairness, at the time of the treatment of the fourth canal, he did prepare me that there was a chance that the treatment wouldn’t be successful if the root was cracked. So he referred me to a periodontist this time around to take a look at the abscess and to get another opinion. The periodontist confirmed that I had a cracked root. I really didn’t want to lose the tooth entirely, so I opted to have the cracked root amputated. Then, he did a bone graft. I have so much money invested in this tooth now, I felt like I needed to do everything possible to save it.
Now, it’s been about another eight or nine months. Unfortunately, I have yet another abscess and the tooth is very painful. The pain is different this time too, it feels like it’s deep in my gum. They have prescribed antibiotics for me to treat the infection. Then, I am supposed to go back in to see how things look. Ugh! They seem to think the the root canal needs to be redone. I honestly think both of these doctors are honest and doing their best to work through this situation. They seem as disappointed as I am. However, I am beginning to feel helpless at this point.
Is it possible to have another root canal or branch off of one of the roots that is causing the infection? I originally thought that a root canal would take care of the infection and that there shouldn’t be a reason for anymore pain. Is there some other cause for the reoccurring abscesses?
Please let me know if you have any other ideas or advice about what could be going on? I’m beginning to feel helpless at this point.
-Carl in Georgia
It sounds like you are working with two dentists that you trust. That’s great. However, at this point I would be hesitant to go in for another root canal treated again. It seems that they have failed so far. So as much as you want to persevere, it may be time to explore other options. Tooth infections are serious and most dentists will do everything possible to save a teeth no matter what. But, based on what you have described about what you are experiencing, it sounds like it may be time to move on and consider other options for your overall health and to avoid another potentially painful and unhealthy situation.
It may be in your best interest to consider replacing the tooth with a dental implant. Sadly, you have been dealing with this for years and there has been a lot of effort invested in to trying to successfully treat it. The bottom line is that root canals are tricky. And when the pain occurred after the initial root canal treatment, it doesn’t sound like the source of the problem was ever discovered. Many times root canal treatments are essentially educated guesses. Endodontists use probability and there is a possibility that the treatment may not work in the end.
Cracked roots are difficult to diagnose properly and treat. They can’t even be seen on x-rays. Also, leaky canals aren’t anything that can be seen on an x-ray either. This is why the endodontist prepared you from the beginning when they gave you ‘odds’ for success. It sounds like you tried your best to beat the odds. But, it doesn’t sound like it’s paying off because they aren’t any closer to figuring out the cause. Honestly, it is entirely possible that several or all of the roots are cracked.
Again, only you can make the decision about what is best for you. As long as you fully understand that there is a chance you could go through another round of treatment and it still won’t solve the problem.
You should at least learn more about the dental implant process so you can make an educated decision. Most implant dentists will meet with you for a consultation so you can learn more about your options. A dental implant is a permanent solution to replace a tooth. It will look, function and feel just like your natural tooth. It would be wise to consider it, get more information and then make a decision.
Thank you for your question. I wish you all the best as you figure out what is right for you.
This post is sponsored by York PA dentist Donald H. Currie, DMD.