Endodontic (root canal) treatments
Potential (more immediate) complications
The latent risks of root canal treatment, i.e. systemic illnesses and chronic degenerative diseases eventually developing from root-filled teeth (or more precisely from the infections lingering in their roots where bacteria are entrenched), have been the subject of several other articles published in this section devoted to root canal treatment.
In addition to these diseases (involving for instance the cardiac and circulatory system, the joints [arthritis and rheumatism] as well as the brain and nervous system), there are more immediate health effects (incl. death) some patients have experienced (or may experience) after a root canal treatment, mostly due to negligence or incompetence of the dentist performing the procedure. Such untoward effects include for instance:
Life-threatening infections with irreversible results
According to a published report, eight such infections have been due to brain abscesses or osteomyelitis. Half of these patients died, while the other half sustained irreversible brain damage.1
Another case concerning a child is reported below.
3-year-old girl died after suffering massive brain damage during root canal procedure
On January 3, 2014, a girl named Finley Boyle died after falling into a coma during a December 3 visit to a Hawaii dentist's office who proposed to perform four root canals on the same day. The patient was given high doses of five different drugs for sedation and went into cardiac arrest, apparently with nobody administering CPR or monitoring her oxygen levels (which remained unmonitored for 26 minutes instead of every five minutes) leading to severe brain damage. A lawsuit for negligence and dangerous conduct has been filed by the parents.
Perforations of various dental tissues
Patients have sustained nerve damage and perforations of sinuses and other tissues from endodontic procedures. A particularly tragic case can be read under Testimonial: botched root canal destroys life: permanent pain and nerve damage after dental and other surgery.
Blowing compressed air into open root canals (resulting in air embolisms) can lead to the death of patients.
Broken instruments left in root canals
This has been due for instance to improper use of the implement, overuse of the same instrument or excessive force applied during the root canal procedure. One report tells about a fistula forming in a man's lower jaw after root canal treatment, with the dentist (possibly correctly) affirming that it was common for a minuscule piece of the file to remain behind. Another case concerned a woman who for the same reason developed paralysis of half of her body following endodontic surgery, see Testimonial: botched root canal treatment leads to hemiplegia.
Accidental swallowing of endodontic implement
While the instrument may pass naturally through the digestive tract, use of a rubber dam would have prevented this kind of accident from happening.
Infections requiring hospitalization
have occurred following endodontic procedures.
One of the "worst-feeling experiences"
A site visitor reported that the one time he submitted to root canal treatment, while the anaesthesia worked alright, he still felt as if he was suffering an unauthorized and unwanted invasion of his being, making him feel miserable for two days until the feeling slowly faded while leaving a traumatic impression.
While it is likely that overall, most of the above consequences don't concern but a small minority of patients undergoing root canal treatment, they are serious enough to warrant reporting. And hopefully this report will deter even more people from allowing a dentist to perform this procedure which has been proven to cause numerous health issues in many.