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Problems with root canal treatments

Root canal (formally known as endodontic) treatment is a dental procedure used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. Problems with root canal treatments can arise If not carried out to a correct standard.


Root canal treatment, involves removing the nerve and pulp from the tooth and then the inside of the tooth is cleaned, filled and sealed.  The last step may require further restoration of the tooth, such as a crown, being placed on the tooth to protect it.

The procedure is usually successful and in about 9 out of 10 cases, a tooth can survive for up to 10 years after root canal treatment. However, in some cases problems with root canal treatment do arise.


Problems with root canal treatment can arise for a variety of reasons, including due to substandard dental treatment, and these problems typically include:

• A failure by the dentist to carry out a pre-operative radiograph to assess the clinical condition of the tooth.
• A failure by the dentist to carry out post-operative radiographs to assess the tooth, after the tooth has been root  filled.
• Misdiagnosing the tooth, this generally occurs when the dentist has not carried out appropriate investigations to determine the correct tooth.
• Over filling of the root canal, this can lead to nerve damage.
• Under filling of the root canal, this can allow bacterial contamination of the under filled root canal, resulting in an abscess or chronic inflammation.
• Separation of instruments, when carrying out the procedure, which may go unnoticed and lead to an infection.
• An inadequate dental restoration.
• Lack of clinical expertise, e.g. it may be necessary to refer a patient to a root canal specialist, if a radiograph reveals curved roots.

However, whilst problems with root canal treatments can occur from something the dentist has failed to do, there can also be problems with the tooth itself, such as if the tooth has fractured or broken or if the tooth has severe decay or gum disease. In these instances, it may not be wise to carry out a root canal treatment at all, as it is likely that the root canal will not be successful and will ultimately end in extraction of the tooth and therefore the painful procedure will have been pointless.


As dental negligence solicitors, we see the sometimes devastating effects on dental patients when a root canal treatment has gone wrong due to negligence on the part of the dentist. Our ‘recent cases’  highlight cases we have dealt with and where we have secured compensation for the injured patient for their pain and suffering and any additional treatment costs.

With a good level of care, as every patient should expect from their dentist, these injuries from poor root canal treatments would have been avoided.  The number of dental negligence cases involving poor root canal treatments is worrying and it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that all dentists are providing the right level of care in this area.

If you or your families have encountered root canal treatment problems, you should seek advice from a specialist and experienced dental negligence solicitor to ensure your concerns are fully investigated.

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1 comment

  1. When a tooth is deeply infected, the only way to save it may be by removing the nerve, cleaning out the bacteria, and sealing the tooth. This is called root canal treatment, and when your dentist places a dental crown on top of the tooth, it functions like a normal tooth.

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