Leading Dentistry Expert Evaluates Botched Root Canal


Dentistry Expert WitnessThis case involves a male patient who underwent a root canal and crowning procedure under the care of the Defendant dentist. On the day of the root canal, the dentist used a number of instruments to determine the length of the canals to be treated, however it was noted after the procedure that the canal had been seriously over-filed. The patient complained of severe pain for a number of weeks before he was seen again by the Defendant dentist. The Plaintiff was then referred to a number of different endodontists for consultations, who determined that the Plaintiff would require additional procedures to alleviate the pain, including the extraction of several of the affected teeth. However, treatment became prohibitively expensive, forcing the Plaintiff to endure increased pain as well as the risk of infection while the root canal remained unrepaired.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you routinely perform root canals?
  • 2. Are you able to opine on whether overfilling a root canal would lead to lingering jaw pain, if left untreated for several weeks?

Expert Witness Response E-006948

As a postgraduate director of a program, I perform as well as assist our dental residents with anterior root canals. Without seeing the x-rays, I am concerned about the size of the files (size 40 in particular) used to prepare the canal(s). Two thoughts come to mind – possible vertical fracture OR a missed canal. Both of these situations can cause lingering pain. I would recommend a cone beam to assess the tooth in a three-dimensional setting. As far as the three weeks left untreated, that will probably be considered as an infraction of the standard of care. Generally speaking, the more quickly these issues are address, the better the outcome will be for the patient, and an extended delay in care could have multiple long-term consequences. 

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