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Dentistry/Periodic pain


Dr. Backlund,

I had a root canal done on bottom right - last tooth in back...years ago......recently developed throbbing pain..could not chew on that side.....went to my dentist...xrays showed nothing...put on short course of PVK..which after 3 days...all pain told me at time of root canal....that the metal drilling piece broke off in canal....could not get it out...but said it should cause no problems. Not sure I believe this,,,,but love my dentist (30+ years)..we have discussed at length this issue...question::: is it possible that the metal rod left in canal is causing this periodic pain?? Thanks for your expertise and response.

Hi Sarah,

I'm sorry to hear you have this going on. When a "metal piece" breaks, it is really a piece of the instrument we use to clean out the root canal. Unfortunately, it happens with some frequency. The problem is, that it usually impossible to retrieve it, like you were told, but also impossible to clean out around and beyond it as well as to fill that part of the root canal. That can cause problems in the future as there may be debris left in the canal that could cause a return of the abscess in the future. This may be what is causing your problem, especially when you had all the pain go away after taking the antibiotics.

At this point, I would suggest that you ask for a referral to an endodontist for an evaluation, diagnosis and proposed treatment. What you are dealing with is beyond  the ability of almost all general dentists. Hopefully that will give you answers and keep this problem from becoming a bigger issue.

Hope this helps.

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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