(RCT) or endodontic treatment is the procedure dentists use to treat infected teeth or teeth which have died. It involves removing the dead or dying material and then “filling in” the root canals inside the teeth.
Possible reasons for Root Canal Treatment
A tooth becomes infected when bacteria enters the nerve (pulp) of the tooth. This can occur due to:
- Dental decay – including decay around existing fillings
- Existing deep or leaking fillings
Most commonly, you will become aware of an infected tooth due to toothache. If early infection is left untreated this can lead to a dental abscess which is a collection of pus in the bone underneath the infected tooth.
Root Canal Treatment Process
- RCT should be initiated as soon as possible after a tooth infection is diagnosed.
- Before your dentist commences RCT, he will need an x-ray of the tooth so he can assess the anatomy of the root. At this stage, he may decide that the procedure would be best performed by a specialist endodontist.
- Simple single-rooted tooth RCT can be completed in about an hour. Multi-rooted teeth and more complex cases may take several dental visits to complete.
- RCT is often done under local anaesthetic on teeth which are isolated from saliva and soft tissue by use of a sheet of rubber placed over the tooth, called a rubber dam. Once the rubber dam is in place your dentist will drill into the tooth to gain access to the root canal system in the centre of the tooth. He will then look for the entrance to the root canal(s). Once all the canals have been found, they are cleaned and shaped using various instruments. The length of the canal(s) is determined by x-rays and/or an electronic device.
- The canals are then permanently filled to prevent bacteria from re-entering the canal system. A final x-ray is then taken to check the canals have been filled completely and to the correct length.
- Root filled teeth are more likely to fracture than healthy teeth and you will require a crown to protect your tooth after the root treatment has been done.
- After RCT, you may experience a little discomfort for a few days, but this will then disappear, leaving a tooth which feels normal, just like its neighbours.
Root Canal Claims
Root canal treatment is an invasive form of treatment so complications can occur during or after RCT, reducing the chance of the treatment being successful. Root canal patients may be eligible to make a claim if their dentist:
- Fractured an instrument inside the root canal
- Failed to remove the nerve completely
- Perforated instruments through the side of the tooth.
- Failed to clean, shape or fill the canals appropriately which resulted in infection (this can be judged by the x-ray taken at the end of RCT)
- Did not gain informed consent
- Did not advise them of alternative, less costly treatments
- Made errors during the root canal procedure resulting in pain or infection.
When RCT has failed, immediate action is required to prevent the infection worsening. Possible options are:
- Repeat RCT
- Surgery – removal of the infected root tip (apicectomy)
Contact the Dental Law Partnership
If you have had a root canal treatment and have been injured as a result, contact the expert dental negligence claim solicitors at the Dental Law Partnership today.
We are proudly accredited by Lexcel as an industry leader and have a proven track record of helping victims claim compensation for root canal treatment issues.
To view our successful case studies, click here.
For free initial legal advice call one of our dental negligence experts on Freephone 0800 0853 823.