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Root canal dental negligence claims

What is a root canal treatment?

A root canal treatment (RCT) or endodontic treatment is a procedure that dentists use to treat infected, or dead, teeth. A root canal procedure involves removing the dead or dying material, then ‘filling in’ the root canals inside the teeth. Without a root canal treatment, abscesses may form when the tissue around the tooth becomes infected.

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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, (this can include decay around existing fillings)
  • Leaking fillings, (a filling is said to be leaking when the side of the filling doesn’t fit tightly against the tooth)
  • Trauma

Usually, you will become aware of an infected tooth due to toothache – and you should visit your dentist for a check-up as soon as possible. If an 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

Root canal treatment (RCT) should be initiated as soon as possible after a tooth infection is diagnosed. Before your dentist commences RCT, your tooth will need to be x-rayed so that the anatomy of the root can be assessed. At this stage, your dentist 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, whilst multi-rooted teeth and more complex cases may take several dental visits to complete.

RCT is often performed under local anaesthetic on teeth, which are isolated from saliva and soft tissue by a sheet of rubber placed over the tooth called a ‘rubber dam’. Once the rubber dam is in place, your dentist will drill directly into the tooth to gain access to the root canal system in the centre. He will then look for the entrance to the root canal(s). Once all of 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 will be taken to check that 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 usually require a crown to protect and reconstruct your tooth after the root canal treatment has been done.

After RCT, you may experience a little discomfort for a few days, but this should then disappear, leaving a tooth which feels normal, just like its neighbours.

Root canal compensation claims

Root canal treatment is an invasive form of treatment, so complications can occur during or after the procedure, reducing the chance of the treatment being successful. Root canal patients may be eligible to make a claim if their dentist:

When RCT has failed, immediate action is required to prevent the infection from worsening. Possible options include:

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.

Can you sue a dentist for a bad root canal?

Yes, in some cases you can sue your dentist for a bad root canal treatment if the procedure was not performed to an acceptable standard, or if your dentist neglected their duty of care, resulting in unnecessary pain, harm and suffering. It may also be possible to claim compensation for loss of earnings, as well as for needless pain and any corrective procedures you may need to undertake. You may be able to claim compensation if your dentist:

  • Did not gain your consent to treatment
  • Did not advise of alternative, less costly treatments
  • Made errors during the root canal procedure, resulting in pain or infection
  • Did not clean out the root canal completely
  • Did not shape or fill the canal properly and this resulted in further infection
  • Fractured an instrument inside the root canal and did not inform you
  • Perforated the root of the tooth

Dental negligence root canal claims – more info:

Are root canals dangerous?

A root canal is a routine procedure and is not considered dangerous. However, as with any kind of invasive treatment; a root canal treatment does carry risks. 9 out of 10 treatments go off without a hitch, but problems can occur; however, they are usually minor and are treatable. The main risks involved in undertaking a root canal procedure include:

  • Pain: It is not unusual to experience pain in the days that follow the procedure. If the root canal has not been fully cleaned, then bacteria can grow, and pain can worsen. If this happens, make sure that you contact your dentist straight away
  • Oversights: If you have more than one infected root canal and the additional problem is missed, it can cause further bacterial growth and lead to further treatment being required
  • Crack(s) in the root: If your dentist does not spot that there is crack in your root, it can leave an entrance for more bacteria, and you may have to undergo further treatment
  • Using defective materials: If the inner seal that is used during a root canal treatment fails, it can lead to reinfection.
  • Nerve damage after root canal – if the procedure causes trauma to the surrounding area or if the solution used as part of the cleaning process is allowed to infiltrate other parts of the mouth or jaw.

How long does a root canal take to heal?

As with any dental treatment, it is important that you practise good oral hygiene both before, and after the procedure. This is especially true when recovering from a root canal treatment. It is likely that you will be advised to stick to a soft food diet for a day or two after your treatment, and it is also likely that the tooth that has been operated on will feel sensitive for a few days. If you are still in pain, or feel unwell, a few days after your procedure, contact your dentist immediately. If you have experienced problems and complications due to your dentist doing a sub-standard job, then it might be possible to sue your dentist for compensation. Contact Dental Law today for a no-obligation chat about your potential claim.

What happens if my root canal filling comes out?

If the filling, or crown, used to seal your tooth after your root canal treatment has been performed, comes out, then you will need to contact your dentist and they can decide if remedial treatment is required. If your dentist is closed, then you will need to call an emergency dentist for advice. Alternatively, you can also call NHS 111 to find an out-of-hours dentist near you. Whether you have an NHS dentist or a private one, there will be a charge if you need urgent dental treatment.

Is root canal treatment painful?

It is often feared that a root canal treatment is painful, but actually, most people who have had the treatment say that the root canal procedure is just the same as having a filling placed. In most cases pain is only felt leading up to canal treatment due to the discomfort of a damaged or infected tooth, not during the treatment itself. However, if a dentist has performed root canal poorly or negligently, the root canal may cause severe pain after the treatment and/or during the treatment.

Severe pain after root canal

One of the most common sources of pain after receiving root canal treatment is when tissues surrounding the root of the tooth becomes inflamed. If the dentist’s root canal files poke beyond the tip of the root, inflammation or toothache after root canal treatment may occur. If you are experiencing severe pain after root canal which does not go away, there is a chance that the root canal was unsuccessful. This is a sign of major root canal complications and is often called a root canal failure.

What causes infection after a root canal?

There are a handful of causes of infection after a root canal. Sometimes more than the anticipated number of root canals may still be infected, leaving the infection to grow after the initial root canal treatment. Undetected cracks in the root of a tooth can cause infections after root canal treatment. Using defective materials is also not a common cause of infection after a root canal, but is due to dental negligence.

How long does root canal treatment take?

Between 60 and 90 minutes – If you are curious about how long root canal treatment takes or how long it ‘should’ have taken for you, they generally take one to three dental visits of between 30-60 minutes each. Carrying out root canal treatment for front teeth can take about an hour whilst molar root canal treatment may take an hour and a half or more. The length of the procedure depends on the complexity of the tooth being treated.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much compensation could I get for a root canal dental negligence claim?

As with most dental negligence claims, the amount of compensation that you may receive if your dentist has failed to perform your root canal treatment to a satisfactory standard will depend on the circumstances of your specific case.

At Dental Law Partnership, our team of expert dental negligence solicitors are on hand to help you with your root canal compensation claim at every step of the way; contact us today to get a failed root canal refund.

How much does it cost to make a root canal compensation claim?

At the Dental Law Partnership, our cases are usually funded by a no win, no fee agreement. This means that even if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not pay any legal costs. Call us today on 0808 278 8202 for an initial, no obligation chat about your claim.

How long do root canal dental negligence claims take?

Unfortunately, it is difficult to put an exact time-frame on a root canal-related dental negligence compensation claim, as it can vary quite dramatically from case to case. There is a strict legal process that must be adhered to and many cases are settled before they reach court, meaning that a claim could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on how your dentist responds to the claim and other aspects of the legal process, such as evidence gathering and gaining expert opinions. Click here for full details of the dental negligence claims process.

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