Can You Sue a Dentist for a Bad Root Canal?

Root canals are common procedures performed in dentists’ offices or at practices specializing in endodontics. Every case presents its own set of challenges, however, and errors do occur. If one of those errors causes a serious dental nerve injury during a root canal, you may be able to sue the dentist or specialist.

What is a root canal?

Many patients undergo this procedure without fully understanding the process. The portion of a tooth that you see when you examine your mouth is only about one-third of the full size of the tooth. The rest resides below the gum line and is called the “root” of the tooth. If the pulp inside of a tooth becomes infected with bacteria, usually by way of a cavity or from trauma, the treatment to save the tooth is a procedure known as a root canal. An X-ray can reveal tooth damage and the exact location of the nerve pulp.

During a root canal, a dentist or endodontist uses a local anesthetic to numb the patient’s mouth in the area of the affected tooth. The dental professional then drills a small hole into the top of the tooth to access the infected pulp and remove it, irrigates the tooth to ensure all the pulp has been extracted, and disinfects the inside of the tooth. Once the tooth is clean, the dentist fills it with a rubbery material and seals the hole in the top of the tooth with a temporary filling. Several weeks later, the dentist fits a crown over the patient’s tooth to strengthen it and protect it from future infections. Before completing the installation of the crown, the dentist may suggest adding a post to provide even more strength to the newly restored tooth.

How can a root canal go bad?

All dentall procedures come with risks, and root canal treatment is no different. Because there is an anesthetic injection as well as drilling, there is certainly risk of nerve injury. If the injury is serious and results in lasting effects such as pain, numbness, change in sensation, or loss of control of mandibular function (jaw movement), or if the injury affects your ability to eat, drink, or speak, you may be able to sue the dentist for the injury and for the costs of any subsequent treatment required to fix the damage or enable you to adjust to the consequences.

Aftercare: post-op treatment

When you undergo this type of treatment, it is important that your doctor or other medical personnel show you how to take care of the root canal and what you can and cannot do or eat afterwards. If a medical professional does not discuss aftercare with you and you subsequently experience serious side effects or a bad outcome from the procedure, the dental practice may be responsible for recovery costs and pain and suffering.

For help with a dental malpractice or other personal injury lawsuit, call Rich & Rich, P.C. today at 347.696.7707 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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