A Beginner’s Guide to Retrograde Root Canal Filling

Root canal therapy involving removal of nerve endings to a tooth is in the public domain by now.

However, technological advances in microsurgical endodontics have seen the discovery of another treatment referred to as retrograde root canal treatment, apicoectomy, or root end therapy.

In a nutshell, the procedure involves use of state-of-the-art microsurgical techniques and calcium-silicate based biocompatible materials to remove a tooth tip and fill up a root end cavity.

Retrograde root canal filling is beneficial when root canal therapy fails to yield results or if re-treatment is not advised.

If you’ve been booked for this specific dental solution, you are the right candidate for this guide.

We will tell you all you need to know about the treatment so you can make an informed choice.

Root Canal Filling

The Treatment at a Glance

The tooth pulp (the living part of the tooth) is prone to damage and bacterial infections which cause inflammation and ultimate death of the tooth.

Root canal therapy tries to deal with the problem by removing infected tissue through irrigation and cleaning.

Once the cleaning is done, the dentist will proceed to fill up the space with a packing material in order to seal the opening.

This makes it quite difficult to eliminate all irritants and toxins from the system which then spread and cause further damage to the tooth.

Although root canal therapy is successful for the most part, there are a few instances where failure will occur.

The reason for the failures can be attributed to the complex root canal system which features plenty of minute pathways that are linked to each other.

Retrograde root canal filling is a better alternative in such a scenario.

Essentially, a dentist will cut a flap in the gum to make a hole in the bone and ultimately gain access to the bottom part of the root.

After cutting the tip of the tooth, he or she will prepare the hole by sealing the apical seal then fill the hole with dental material.

Materials Used

In apicoectomy, the emphasis is laid on the sealing process as it is thought to be the most important step of the treatment.

As a result, there are plenty of materials that have been developed to seal the root tip successfully.

The common ones include mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA), amalgam, composite resin, and zinc oxide eugenol cement.

MTA is the most preferred in the current dispensation because of its pH which is known to be bactericidal.

Success Rate

Several studies have been done about retrograde root canal filling. One of them, published in 2010, showed a success rate of 89-95% using modern techniques.

Another 2009 review indicated a rate of 77.8% (at 2-4 years), 71.8% (at 4-6 years), and 62.9% (at 6+ years). To be honest, the success of the procedure depends on the material used and the specific performance.

Retrograde root canal filing is closely related to the conventional root canal therapy albeit with its own twist.

If you have tried the latter without much success, this could be the best course of treatment for you. Have a talk with your dentist to get more information.

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