What to do After a Failed Root Canal Treatment

For some patients, the only thing scarier than a root canal is having a root canal only to find out it failed. However, it does happen and is not as concerning as it may seem in the moment, and there are several options available to patients who have experienced a failed root canal treatment.

Treatment options following a failed root canal

There are several reasons why a root canal may have failed, and it is not entirely unheard of for one to be unsuccessful. Fortunately, there are treatment options available to ensure that the underlying issue is properly treated in an effective and efficient manner. The following are three of the more common ways that dentists provide treatment following a failed root canal.

Root canal retreatment

Perhaps, the most common form of treatment after a root canal fails is to simply try the root canal treatment again. The process of root canal retreatment starts with removing the filling material applied during the first treatment and disinfecting the area to kill any bacteria that may exist. The new filling material can then be applied to replace the infected tooth pulp and leave the patient with a solution to their oral infection. While it is possible for a retreatment procedure to also fail, the risk of it doing so is very low and retreatment is most often successful.


An apicoectomy - otherwise known as a root end surgery - is also a reliable option for patients who have experienced a failed root canal treatment. An apicoectomy involves removing the apex of the tooth, which is the tip of the tooth’s root and sealing it with a small filling. Although minor and fairly non-invasive, an apicoectomy is a surgical procedure that often requires an incision into the gums to gain access to the apex of the tooth. An apicoectomy is successful for patients who endure a failed root canal treatment, the majority of the time.

Tooth extraction

Tooth extraction is usually a last resort option, although some patients may request tooth extraction if they have enough bone support for a dental implant. If a root canal retreatment or an apicoectomy fail, then tooth extraction is likely required, and there are instances where tooth extraction may be recommended after a failed root canal, if retreatment is not possible. There are several tooth replacement options for patients who require tooth extraction, including a dental implant, dental bridge or partial denture.

Talk to a dentist about root canal treatment

Root canal treatment by itself can be stressful for many patients, and the need for retreatment, an apicoectomy or tooth extraction following a failed root canal can be incredibly nerve-wracking. However, a dentist can walk you through each step of the process and ensure you are knowledgable about and comfortable with every step of the process.

If you have recently experienced a root canal but the symptoms have not improved, consult with our dental office and schedule a time to come in to find out whether or not additional treatment is needed.

Request an appointment here or call Calabasas Dental Care at (818) 591-2480 for an appointment in our Calabasas office.