Root Canal Failure

When you are seeking a remedy to a RCT failure, turn to our understanding experts.

From time to time, a root canal failure may happen after a root canal treatment (RCT). Incidence of failure can be related to incomplete cleaning of the root canal system, resistant pathogens, or epigenetic factors.

While some doctors may insist that once you have had a root canal treatment, the tooth can no longer cause pain, current research suggests otherwise.
Persistent inflammation and infection of the periodontal ligament and bone surrounding a tooth with a failing root canal treatment can cause swelling and/or discomfort. However, many patients do not experience noticeable pain or other symptoms, so these infections from failed RCT can go on for years.

The possibility of failure – including one that is not noticeable – is a compelling reason to keep an eye on all RCTed teeth. To fully understand the health status of a root canal treated tooth, we recommend a 3D CBCT scan to check on the healing status for all such treatments. For patients receiving integrative root canal therapy at our practice, a CBCT scan is offered during the recall appointment as a part of the post-operation check-up. With this scan, our endodontists assess the healing of the tooth and the regeneration of the surrounding tissues.

If you received your root canal therapy at another office, you are still welcome to schedule a scan for your peace of mind. Request a CBCT scan appointment.

To understand how we approach failed root canal treatment, explore our FAQs below. For a balanced approach to fixing your root canal failure, schedule a consultation at Integrative Endodontics →

Excellent Outcomes at Integrative Endodontics

Thanks to the advanced irrigation technology we use, our patients have excellent outcomes. Thoroughly cleaning the root canal of your tooth is crucial to not only your dental health, but your whole-body wellness. Integrative Endodontics is dedicated to your long-term well-being, and we choose the technology and techniques to best protect and support it.

Root Canal Failure


01. What are root canal treatment failure symptoms?

RCT failure may be asymptomatic (that is, without signs you notice) or may show up as inflammation and/or an infection inside or around your tooth. If symptoms do occur, they usually include:

  • Continued pain when biting
  • Swelling in the gum tissue around the tooth
  • A small bump resembling a pimple, which appears in the gum tissue adjacent to the root(s)

Learn more on our Root Canal Infection page.

02. Why do root canal treatments fail?

Although root canal treatments can fail for a variety of reasons, it is often due to improper cleaning or missing a branch of the root canal during the operation.

To address these potential issues with root canal procedures, our expert endodontists utilize the most advanced irrigation technique, CBCT imaging, and state-of-the-art microscopes throughout the operation.

In what we call Light & Sound Endodontics, our doctors join the power of safe-and-effective lasers and multisonic irrigation. Together, these techniques and technology help us reach a new level of cleanliness within the root canal system – and this results in excellent patient outcomes.

Discover Multisonic Irrigation →

Understand Laser Endodontics →

03. I’ve had a root canal treatment in the past. How do I know it’s healthy now?

To check on past root canal treatments of new patients, we provide CBCT scans. These 3D images are a window into the health of your teeth and the surrounding structures. Depending on the patient, their unique health challenges, and the severity of the initial infection, we may schedule follow-up scans of root canal treatments we perform in our office.

If your root canal treatment was performed elsewhere, you can still schedule 3D dental imaging at our office. Request a CBCT dental X-ray appointment →

04. How can I support my dental and whole-body health?

If you have experienced a root canal failure, it may be a sign that there are underlying health issues or micronutrient deficiencies that you may not be aware of.

We work with a variety of labs to screen for these issues, and then offer customized tools to support your immune system, stress response, and whole-body wellness. To further address any health challenges that are discovered, our office works with a team of local integrative doctors to help you on your healing journey.

In our office, we also offer patients a variety of integrative services. Generally, we outline a plan where patients return quarterly for these supportive treatments, including safe, low-level laser and MEND™ microcurrent therapies.