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Root canal treatment is a very common and mostly safe dental procedure nowadays. But the recent horror of Kannada actress’ swollen face even 20 days after undergoing the treatment, has raised concerns about the risks of root canal treatment.
Swathi Satish, the actress, reportedly claimed that a botched root canal treatment left her face disfigured with a swelling for weeks. As per media reports, she blamed in incorrect sequence of administering of anasthesia and disinfection injection for the unforeseen incident.
Before we understand what sort of risks are associated with the root canal treatment, let’s get to know what this procedure is all about.
Root canal treatment or endodontic therapy requires the removal of inflamed and infected pulp, cleaning and disinfection of root canals, and filling and sealing with biocompatible material. If you ignore a tooth cavity for too long, this treatment would have to be your go-to.
“It is one of the safest and most successful dental procedures performed today with the success rate of over 95 percent,” Dr Yashaswini Shetty , MDS, Endodontics and conservative dentistry, Apollo Dental, Bannerghatta, Bengaluru, tells Health Shots.
As with all medical and dental procedures, there are few risks involved with this too. But you must get over dental anxiety with proper awareness.
According to Dr Shetty, all patients should be aware of the following risks:
Discolouration of tooth as the vitality of the tooth is lost as the tooth pulp is removed. This can be treated aesthetically with crowns and veneers.
Tooth cracking can happen as the tooth becomes brittle after the treatment as the dental pulp is removed during the procedure. It serves as the nerve supply and blood supply to the tooth and hence crown is recommended after the root canal treatment to strengthen the tooth and to restore the function.
Reinfection of root canals can occur if canals are not cleaned and disinfected till the apex of the root. This is due to narrow or curved canals or complicated canal anatomy or delay in the placement of crown or other restoration post-treatment. This can be treated by re-root canal treatment by a skilled endodontist.
4. Instrument separation
Instrument separation in root canals can happen occasionally as very fine instruments are used to clean the canals. This situation can sometimes affect the success of the root canal treatment. This can be conservatively managed by bypass of the fragment and removal by skilled endodontist.
5. Sodium Hypochlorite accident
This is a very rare risk of the treatment. Sodium hypochlorite is the most common disinfectant used as an adjunct to cleaning and shaping of canals as it possesses potent antimicrobial property. Inadvertent injection of Na0Cl beyond the apical foramen can occur with the wide apical foramen and excessive pressure during irrigation. Due to its tissue-dissolving property, it can lead to tissue necrosis which may lead to acute pain, redness and progressive swelling.
Timely management can achieve best outcome with continuous saline irrigation to reduce tissue damage. Oral analgesics may help to alleviate pain and antibiotics to prevent secondary infection and steroid may be used to minimize edema.
As Dr Shetty explains, “identification of risk and effective treatment planning is the key for a successful root canal treatment”.