Can You Have a Root Canal Done a Third Time?

I had a root canal treatment done about nine years ago. It had to be re-done a few years after that. Now it is bothering me again. Is it possible to do a root canal treatment a third time?


Dear Mary,

You can re-do a root canal treatment quite a few times. However, you may want to evaluate whether or not that is your best course of action. Root canal treatments are tricky under the best of circumstances. It is estimated that even when a dentist does everything perfectly, there can still be a 15% failure rate. Why is that?

While there is between one and four canals in a tooth, depending on the type of tooth, there are branches that stem off from the main canal. These can take crazy twists and turns. In some cases, they are literally impossible for us to clean out and seal properly with the current technology we have. If a dentist can’t reach all the pulp, there is a significant chance of re-infection.

In addition to that, the chances of a successful re-treatment go down with each attempt. This will be your third treatment. A second option is root canal surgery. However, some patients are not candidates depending on where the nerves lie.

While a good dentist always tries to save a tooth, the honest answer is some teeth are not saveable despite everyone’s best efforts. In that case, the only thing left is to get a tooth extraction and then a replacement.

If that happens, the two best replacements to look at are a dental implant or a dental bridge. Both will serve you well. Just speak with your dentist about your particular circumstances and he or she will help you make the right decision.

Best of Luck!

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Broken Front Tooth in Child

My seven year old daughter broke a front tooth after a fall. The dentist said it is not anything to worry about and he can schedule me for six weeks from now. I really want this taken care of immediately and asked him for a referral. Instead, he told me that the nerves needed time to settle before anything could be done and no one would see me sooner. Is that accurate?


Dear Karen,

No, there is no reason to wait. My only guess as to why he said that is he wanted to keep you at his practice. That being said, I do want to check something. Did he do an x-ray and tell you everything is fine and he can do the repair in six weeks or did he just tell you everything was fine when you tried to schedule an appointment without actually seeing her? If he didn’t examine her, I would feel more at ease if she at least had an x-ray done to see what you are dealing with.

If there is no damage to the pulp, then a cosmetic fix is all she will need. This can be solved with dental bonding, but you’ll want to go see a cosmetic dentist for that.

If the pulp was damaged, there may be a point where she’ll need a dental crown because the tooth will start turning gray. However, that is a wait-and-see situation.

Find a different pediatric dentist for your daughter. You can even see a general dentist who treats children. They all did a pediatric rotation and she will be in safe hands.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.