According to the American Association of Endodontists, root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep tooth decay, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth which are not successful, or a crack or chip in the tooth which widens and/or deepens over time to the point that the pulp of the tooth is affected. A traumatic injury to a tooth may also cause pulp damage even if the tooth looks fine on the outside. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Endodontic treatment typically consists of the following steps:
1. The dentist who is performing the root canal therapy examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic to numb the area and tooth that is to be worked on. After the tooth is numb, the dentist places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
2. The dentist then makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used measure the length of the roots and to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.
3. After the roots are cleaned and shaped, the dentist fills the root canals with a root canal material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed later by the dentist before the tooth is restored.
Injury to the inferior alveolar or mental nerve is a complication that can occur if the dentist does not perform the root canal properly or if the dentist performs the root canal below the standard of care. This often results in pain and/or numbness in the chin, lower lip and jaw. This type of dental nerve injury can occur during any phase of the root canal therapy and it is important that you contact an experienced dental malpractice attorney should you suspect that you have sustained this type of injury. You only have a limited amount of time in which to file a lawsuit for your injuries, and it takes quite a bit of time to evaluate a dental malpractice case and timely file a lawsuit.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming on (404) 923-7497 or directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.