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Root Canals

Wrong root canal

06/19/2006

Question:

On Thursday, June 8, I had an appointment with my dentist regarding pain in my lower part of the jaw. I could not be sure which tooth it was, since the pain appeared to be between two molars. Dentist took exrays and told me that it is the tooth with a silver crown. Since the crown was placed on that molar some 20+ years ago when I was young, root canal was never done. He drilled through the crown and had performed a root canal procedure, took additional exrays to be sure and send me home with a prescription of anibiotics and a $650.00 bill (after discount). On Saturday, June 10, I paged my dentist, he called back right away. I told him that the pain is absolutely unbearable and is increasing by the hour. He told be to double the dosage of antibiotics and take them 3 times a day. He also told me to rinse the area with very warm water diluted with salt and baking soda. As soon as warm water touched the area, the word “pain” can not describe it, I could literally see electric sparks. On Tuesday, June13, about 5am, I called dental office and left a message that I have not slept a single night yet, and pain medicine only helps for 2-3 hours. They called me back from the office, and I went there early in the morning. Dentist took additional x-rays, and told me that it must be the tooth with a cavity - that is next to the one he did last week, and this molar also needs a root canal. Well, he did another root canal. I left the office with another $650.00 bill. Today is Sunday, June18. XX-Large bottle of Advil is gone. The tooth pain has decreased by about 50%, but sharp needle pain going from the jaw around the area of the teeth that had root canals into the ear is unbearable. I had my ear checked, there is no infection. It feels like hundreds of tiny needles start pocking through the right side of the jaw, and spreading to upper jaw tooth, throat and then the ear. The ear pain is getting worse and worse. I am very hesitant to call my dentist back due to fear that I’ll end up having another root canal. Is there a specialist that I can call, or should I go back to this dentist. Is this pain normal? Is it common practice to do a wrong root canal?

Answer:

Unfortunately I cannot tell you if the wrong tooth was treated or if one or both teeth needed root canals.  Although rare, there are times when two neighboring teeth do require root canals and it can be difficult to diagnose which tooth is causing the symptoms you felt on that particular day.  

The fact that starting the second root canal helped decrease your pain is good, but I really can't say why you still have the symptoms you are describing.  I just don't have enough information. 

Having a specialist, in this case an endodontist, look at your teeth, is not a bad idea.  Especially since you are having continued symptoms and have some questions about your treatment.  A second opinion may ease your worries or may help resolve your problem.

For more information:

Go to the Root Canals health topic, where you can:

Response by:

John M Nusstein, DDS John M Nusstein, DDS
Associate Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University