How Many Times Can You Retreat a Root Canal?

How Many Times Can You Retreat a Root Canal?

Have you been told that you need a root canal? If so, you’re probably wondering if retreatment is an option. To answer that question, let’s explore what root canals are, why they fail, and how many times a root canal can retreat. 

What is a Root Canal? 

A root canal is a dental procedure in which the nerve of your tooth is removed and the empty space is filled with special material. This procedure helps save teeth that have been damaged by rot, decay, or trauma. It can be done by your general dentist or an endodontist (a specialist in treating diseases and injuries of the tooth’s inner tissue). 

Why Do Root Canals Fail? 

Root canals may fail due to several reasons, including but not limited to: incomplete removal of the nerve during treatment; inadequate cleaning and shaping of the canals; failure to seal the canals properly; leaving bacteria behind during treatment; or damage to the jawbone caused by untreated infection. When any of these things occur, it will likely require retreatment to fix it. 

How Many Times Can You Retreat A Root Canal? 

The good news is that most root canals can successfully retreat two or three times before they become too difficult for even an endodontist to repair.

However, it’s important to note that retreatments are more difficult than initial treatments because the existing material must be removed before new filling material can be installed.

That being said, each retreatment has about an 80-90% success rate, meaning there’s still hope for your tooth!

The answer to the question “How many times can you retreat a root canal?” depends on several factors, such as how successful the initial procedure was and whether there has been any damage to the structure of the tooth or its surrounding tissues.

Generally speaking, if a root canal is adequately performed, it should not need to have retreated. However, in some cases, retreatment may be necessary due to a number of reasons. For instance, if the filling material used does not seal off the end of the root canal from bacteria, or if there are undetected cracks in the teeth that were not noticed during initial treatment, then a root canal retreatment may be warranted.

Another factor that would influence whether or not one can retreat a root canal is the type of restoration needed after completion of the procedure.

If more extensive restoration is needed than what was initially provided such as crowns or bridges then performing retreatment allows for more accurate measurements and better sealing off of potential air pockets that could lead to further infection and decay.

Furthermore, depending on what type of filling material was used initially such as gutta-percha or resin-based materials the material may require replacement over time due to deterioration. 

When this happens, another attempt at sealing off any remaining bacteria can be attempted with a root canal retreatment.

Ultimately, if performed correctly by an experienced endodontist and under appropriate conditions, root canal treatments can last for many years without needing another attempt at sealant placement.

Nonetheless, it is important to monitor your teeth regularly so that any signs of infection or decay can be caught early and addressed before resorting to costly treatment options such as retreatments.


Root canal treatments have come a long way since their invention more than 150 years ago. Thanks to modern techniques and improved materials, most teeth with severe infections or decay can be saved with successful root canal treatment, even if some retreatment is required down the line.

If you think you may need a root canal treated or retreated, speak with your dentist right away so they can assess your specific situation and determine what steps should be taken next.

Dr. Jay Feldman

Dr. Jay Feldman

Dr. Jay Feldman is an experienced and highly-respected dentist with decades of experience in the field for over 10 years. He specializes in root canals and extractions, but he also provides general dentistry services such as check-ups, cleanings, fillings, sealants, and more. He dedicates much of his free time to contributing content for Here.