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When undergoing dental treatment, and in particular, root canal treatment, the instruments used are fine needle like files.
Due to their thinness, the files are prone to unpredictable fracture.
The fact that an instrument has fractured leaving a piece of the instrument in the gum is not however usually caused as a result of negligence.
Why can problems develop?
Although the fracture of instruments can simply occur through no fault of the dentist, it is important that dentists know how to deal with and treat these incidents. It is recommended that all instruments are examined when withdrawn from the tooth so that, coupled with the post operative radiographs, the dentist will always be aware if a fracture has occurred.
In the event of an instrument fracturing within a root canal, it is essential to advise the patient so that they can be involved in whatever decisions are made regarding the future of the tooth. The first step would usually be to attempt to remove the fragment. The success of this will depend upon the amount of instrument retained and its position within the tooth.
If left undetected, the piece of fractured instrument may lead to infection and root treatment failure, thereby resulting in the loss of the tooth.
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