Clinical Negligence

Burns to gums and face during root canal treatment

Mrs D had been involved in a road traffic accident which damaged her upper right 1st tooth (UR1).  She attended a dental practice in Gravesend, Kent where it was determined that she required root canal treatment.

During the course of the treatment Mrs D experienced a sensation of gushing liquid into her mouth and immediately felt as if her gum and face were burning.  She had severe pain despite the use of local anaesthetic.

Her mouth was washed out but her mouth and face continued to swell.  Later that day she attended the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.  The root canal treatment was completed at a later date.

X-rays showed that Mrs D had a wide root canal and a relatively wide opening at the root apex, which meant that the utmost care should have been taken to avoid sodium hypochlorite chemicals being forced out through the end of the root canal.  Very gentle pressure should have been applied to the plunger in order to introduce the chemicals very slowly and carefully into the root canal.

On the balance of probabilities, the dental surgeon placed the irrigation syringe needle tip incorrectly and/or applied too much pressure to the plunger, thereby forcing sodium hypochlorite into the periradicular tissues.

Furthermore our expert stated that the dentist should have referred Mrs D to hospital immediately.

As a result of these failing was pain, swelling, hospitalisation and permanent altered sensation in the tooth, right upper lip and right side of Mrs D’s nose.  Mrs D felt traumatised and was unable to return to her work for several months.

The defendant did not formally respond to the allegations made but the parties reached settlement in the sum of £18,250 compensating Mrs D for her pain, suffering and loss of amenity and her loss of earnings suffered whilst she was unable to work.

Oliver Chapman specialise in dental negligence cases.  If you would like to ask Oliver a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about clinical negligence, contact him at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701234, in confidence.

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