General Question

livelaughlove21's avatar

A hole in tooth after a root canal?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (15715points) January 24th, 2015 from iPhone

My husband had a toothache last weekend and ended up having to get a root canal in his front tooth, where he already had a crown (which they did not remove in order to do the root canal). They sealed the hole the first day and then brought him back the next day to finish it by putting a post in, according to him. It was finished on Wednesday. On Friday he said it felt different and asked me to look at it. There’s a small hole in the back of the tooth with nothing filling it.

We were planning to call the dentist to see if this is normal on Monday when they open since neither of us has had a root canal and had no clue what’s normal, but a moth ball type of smell is now on his breath even after brushing. I’m assuming that it’s bacteria getting into the hole, which happened when he had a temporary crown that wasn’t placed correctly years ago. The smell went away when he got the permanent crown.

Should the dentist cover the charge of fixing this problem? Is there anything we can do to clear out the debris to get rid of the odor until Monday, because I’m not kissing him with moth ball breath.

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19 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I’m sending this to our resident dentist. A salt water gargle four times a day is benign and may help keep it clean (it may not but will do no harm).I cup warm (not hot) water and ½ t. salt.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Let us know how it turns out. Did the dentist warn your husband that this could happen if the original crown was not removed and replaced? It sounds like the kind of thing they might say to cover themselves.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@dappled_leaves No, he didn’t even know removing the crown was an option until he Googled it.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I don’t see how they or why they would place a post with ought removing the crown. A post is to put a crown on, so if it is already crowned…...? He needs to go back, I can’t visualise the hole you are talking about but he definitely needs to go back. There should be no charge.its common to do a root canal through a crown if the crown is in good shape.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@trailsillustrated What should they have filled the hole with?

trailsillustrated's avatar

If they do a root canal through a crown, they’ll fill it with regular filling material, this “hole” doesn’t sound like it’s where you would go through for a root canal. And a post build up is to make a tooth structure to put a crown on, so I don’t understand why, if I’m reading it right, they went through the crown and then did a post??

trailsillustrated's avatar

AND I can’t see how or why you would,do,a post if you are keeping a present crown ? I can’t see how you would do a post without removing the crown? You couldn’t see, surgically, to do this, when you go through a crown you are going through the top and going by X-rays. I’m totally confused here.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@trailsillustrated Keep in mind that I’m just going by what my husband told me regarding the post. I wasn’t there and have no clue what was done. He could very well be mistaken.

I looked at the tooth after the first day and could see the temporary filling/sealing right where I see the hole now. The rest of the tooth looks normal.

Perhaps they filled it and the filling fell out. In that case, I’d assume they would fix it for free. However, why the hell would it fall out after only two days?

trailsillustrated's avatar

When you go through a crown, it’s usually pretty straight forward, you clean the canals and put a sedative fill in there, and then you put calcium hydroxide or some paste on the hole. Which is flled with some sedative fill in it and cotton pellets . The mothball smell is what they put in to kill the nerves. When he’s goes back, they’ll remove all that and fill it with rubber and put a permanent filling over the hole. Sounds routine but for the post.? In answer his root canal is not finished.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@trailsillustrated But it should be. That’s why he went back the second day…to finish it. He doesn’t have any additional appointments.

dappled_leaves's avatar

If the hole is in the back of the tooth, did the dentist go into the tooth from the back, rather than from the top? I can’t think how else there could be a hole back there.

I’m with @trailsillustrated. I don’t get how a post was put in with the crown still on. This whole thing is very confusing! A dental mystery.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Let’s forget about the post. I’m sure he just heard them wrong. Yes, the root canal was done behind the tooth. I’m not confused as to why a hole is there at all, just why it’s not filled. At this point, I’m guessing the filling fell out and needs to be redone.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@livelaughlove21 To be honest, this doesn’t sound like a root canal at all.

dappled_leaves's avatar

This is interesting – I’ve been assuming, based on my own experience, that a post is always necessary in a root canal. It’s very hard for me to believe that a dentist could place a post by coming in from the side – I think it would just be too long to turn it inside the tooth. But having just looked around the internet a wee bit, apparently it’s not uncommon to have a root canal with just a core and not a core + post. Here’s an animated explanation of each process.

I’m sure @trailsillustrated could comment more intelligently than I on whether placing the core by coming in from the side makes sense. But either way, if this were my mouth, I think I would have asked the dentist to remove and replace the crown. I know they’re expensive, but it’s important to get (and keep) the inside of the tooth very clean because this thing will likely be sitting in the tooth for decades. They can remove the decayed part of the tooth, but can they perfectly sterilize the bottom of the existing crown? Its inner surface is probably not perfectly smooth.

In any case, none of this tells you whether the dentist will do the next bit of work for free. I would certainly push for him to cover it, because the immediate outcome of his work was unsatisfactory, and requires fixing. I think it would also be a good idea for your husband to grill him on exactly what was done if he isn’t sure.

trailsillustrated's avatar

It the root canal is finished, then the dentist should correct the hole. It’s mystifying to me why they did not address this you do not want a hole in any crown, bacteria could enter. Also, the root pulps are located in the centre so there would be no reason to go through the back or the side or whatever. A post and core is only needed if the tooth structure is too broken or decayed to get anything on there. I’d for sure go back.

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livelaughlove21's avatar

UPDATE: He went to the dentist today. He was told, “It’s not a hole, it’s the post.” I guess he didn’t hear him wrong the first time as I suspected. My husband then asked why he put a post in and not the usual material for fillings. The dentist said that they did put the regular filling in, but also put the post in to “stabilize the crown.” He filed the post down a bit more and sent him on his way.

It sure looked like a hole to me, but what do I know? None of this makes sense to me, but he’s just going to leave it alone. As it turned out, the moth ball smell was a fluke and never returned after that one occurrence. Knowing me, I imagined it because I thought it would happen after what he went through with the temporary crown situation way back when.

If he has any problems with it, the dentist guarantees his work for 5 years, so there’s that.

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