As a 2007 study indicates, overfilling the roots with sealant during a root canal procedure can cause permanent nerve damage if not treated promptly. As the article concludes, “early surgical exploration and debridement may reverse the effects of endodontic treatment that is below the standard of care and results in gutta-percha being deposited into the inferior alveolar nerve canal.
In the study, 61 patients who sustained root canal overflow injuries were tracked over an eight-year period. Eight patients were asymptomatic (i.e., they did not report any signs or symptom of an injury even though they sustained the overfill) and received no treatment. Forty-two patients exhibited only mild symptoms or were seen more than three months after undergoing root canal therapy, and they received no surgical treatment. Only 10 percent of these patients experienced any resolution of symptoms. Eleven patients underwent surgical exploration. Five of these patients underwent exploration and received treatment within 48 hours, and all recovered completely. The remaining six patients underwent surgical exploration and received treatment between 10 days and three months after receiving endodontic therapy. Of these patients, four experienced partial recovery and two experienced no recovery at all.
According to WebMD, a root canal procedure is performed as follows:
- First, the dentist will numb your gums with a substance that feels like jelly. After your gums are numb, the dentist will inject a local anesthetic that will completely numb the teeth, gums, tongue, and skin in that area. Sometimes nitrous oxide gas will be used to reduce pain and help you relax.
- The dentist may separate the decayed tooth from the other teeth with a small sheet of rubber on a metal frame. This protective rubber sheet also helps stop liquid and tooth chips from entering your mouth and throat.
- The dentist will use a drill and other tools to remove the pulp from the tooth and will fill the inside part of the tooth below the gum line with medicines, temporary filling materials, and a final root canal filling.
- After the root canal, a permanent filling or crown (cap) is often needed. If a crown is needed, the dentist removes the decay and then makes an impression of the tooth. A technician uses the impression to make a crown that perfectly matches the drilled tooth.
- The tooth may be fitted with a temporary crown until the permanent crown is made and cemented into place.
There are many reasons why a root canal overfill occurs, but since this is a complication that should not happen absent malpractice, there usually exists a dental malpractice case if you suffer from an overfill. If you are suffering from this nerve injury after Root Canal Therapy (“RCT” or a root canal), you should consult with an experienced dental malpractice attorney.
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 directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.