Dentist performing a root canal

Root Canals Gone Wrong

What are my rights if I am injured during a root canal procedure?

Root canals are performed to eliminate bacteria within an infected tooth. During a root canal procedure, the infected pulp is removed from the tooth and the inside of the tooth is cleaned then filled and sealed. The goal of such treatment is to save the tooth.  Patients may need a root canal when they experience severe pain while biting or chewing, decay of the gums, extreme sensitivity to hot or cold, or swollen gums.

Root canals are common procedures.  Each year, an estimated 15.1 million root canal treatments are performed across the nation, as revealed by the American Dental Association Survey of Dental Services Rendered.  More than 41,000 root canals are performed daily. Despite the commonality of the procedure, root canals are still considered major dental procedures. There are risks associated with a root canal.  When a root canal fails, the results can be devastating. At times, a failed root canal is caused by negligence on the part of the treating dentist or endodontist.

Negligence Associated with Root Canals

There are several causes of dental malpractice in performing root canals. One of the first instances is an improper diagnosis of the need for a root canal in the first place.  At times, dentists will perform a root canal unnecessarily. The dentist might overestimate the damage to the tooth or misdiagnose the need for a root canal. Unscrupulous dentists might even perform the procedure so that they can bill the patient’s insurance for a higher amount.

Another cause of dental malpractice when performing a root canal is drilling too deep into the tooth.  If a dentist drills too deep, he or she might cut through the bottom of the tooth. This can create an infection, swelling, and failure of the procedure. A failed root canal may lead to loss of the tooth, damage to the jaw bone, and gum issues. 

Yet another instance of dental malpractice related to root canals is failure to properly clean inside the tooth and refill it correctly.  When part of the infected root is left within the tooth, it may cause the root to rot and the infection to remain. This can lead to pain, swelling, and loss of the tooth.  Further, not refiling the tooth with the appropriate level of resin can result in damage and infection, as can failing to put a proper post to hold up the tooth. Anyone who experiences a failed root canal will need to consult with a dental malpractice attorney right away to protect their legal rights.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.