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Dental Hygienist said if my root canal is ever extracted, I could get paralysis - is this true?

A

Annie364

Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2021
Messages
20
Location
UK
I had my teeth cleaned at the dental hygienist.
She knew I had recently had a root canal done.

She then looked up the OPG of the teeth before the root canal (my dental hygienist is a separate place to my actual dentist, and they require you to email x-rays before doing any cleanings).
And she then told me that the root canal can last 10-20 years, and that if I ever have to get it out (for example if the root cracked), then because the root goes right into a nerve (which she said she could see on the OPG), 'it could cause paralysis'.

I hadn't asked for any of this information, I just went there for a cleaning.
I asked where the paralysis would be, and she said the jaw/face.

Neither my dentist or endodontist said anything about this from looking at the x-ray.
The root canal went really well, it looks good and feels good, the root is strong, the tooth looks healthy and very firm in the socket (the same as my non-root canalled teeth). I can't remember the prognosis the endodontist gave, but no-one said 10 years.

I feel put out by what she said - the idea that root canals only last 10-20 years, and that after that when it fails, having it extracted could cause paralysis.

I would very much appreciate if a dentist give their opinion on this, as I find it quite worrying. The tooth is a 2nd lower molar.

My questions would be:
- Is my hygienist right, and is it appropriate for her to give her opinion like this?
- Are root canals really only exepcted to last 10-20 years?
- Can she really tell that I 'could get paralysis' from looking at an x-ray, and how likely is that paralysis?
 
Last edited:
drhirst

drhirst

Super Moderator
Verified dentist
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
761
Location
Welwyn Garden City, UK
Hi Annie364,
This is very odd indeed.
Root canals do not have a set life span. There is no reason why they cannot last more than 20 years. I guess the fact that the teeth they are performed on are often weak, may mean the tooth fails, but this is nothing to do with the root canal.
You cannot get paralysis from nerve injury during tooth extraction. In very rare instances you can get prolonged or even permanent numbness, but this is not the same a paralysis.

If I had to take a wild guess from what you have reported, I might suspect she was trying to impress you with her knowledge and x-ray reading skills. If so, this is rather unprofessional and has just caused you totally unecessary anxiety.
Sorry you had to endure this.

Lincoln
 
Gordon

Gordon

Administrator
Staff member
Verified dentist
Joined
Oct 25, 2005
Messages
7,856
I don't often say this, but in these circumstances I think it might be appropriate to make a complaint about this hygienist's behaviour to the practice.

We all say or do daft things at times but a little warning shot now could save the hygienist from getting into a lot more serious trouble later.
 
A

Annie364

Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2021
Messages
20
Location
UK
Thank you Lincoln and Gordon, you have really cheered me up with your comments. It's a real relief to know what she said is not true.

I am trying to put a good interpretation on her behaviour, but I have to say, she didn't have a very good manner. Maybe she is just not good at dealing with people.

There was no reason for her to look at my OPG in the first place, as far as I can see. Then she was basically saying how bad it all was (the infections I had before my treatment). I try and be upbeat about stuff rather than doom/gloom, and if there is a problem with my teeth I want to focus on the best way to fix it, but she was just pointing out negative things and not being constructive. And in any case, all the infections have now been fixed, so what is the point of going over it again like that.

Suddenly I'm being told the root canal would fail after maybe 10 years and I could well be facing paralysis. I have been through a lot of stress and pain over the past year with my teeth, and it had just got to the point where things were starting to get better for me. She said the word paralysis 2 or 3 times without any further explanation or suggesting a way to fix the problem. To me, 'paralysis' sounds like it would involve the body, and it was only some time later when I asked her for clarification, that she said it would be face/jaw paralysis.

I think that it is not appropriate for her to go above the opinion of my endodontist (who is excellent and even teaches endodontics), and volunteer her own opinion out of the blue like that, especially when it is something upsetting for the patient to hear. Surely if that information were true, it should be the role of my endodontist or dentist to explain it to me and discuss my options.

And if my endodontist had already told me about it, there would be no reason for her to bring up a distressing thing she saw on my OPG and tell me about it again. Or if she thinks she is telling me the news for the first time, then she is acting as if she knows better than him and has spotted something he didn't.

Thank you for suggesting making a complaint, it makes me feel supported. Though I kind of feel that she would only deny everything, which would be even more stress for me and I'm not sure I'm ready for that at the moment. On the other hand, I'd like to prevent anyone else from experiencing this kind of thing.

Anyway I do feel much better now after your replies, as I now know what she said is untrue, and that she is wrong in her approach.
 
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