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Dentistry/air embolism during root canal


Bill wrote at 2009-08-17 16:10:04
I had this happen to me today during a root canal. Air went into my cheek. I can feel it around my nose, cheek and near my ear. My cheek appears very swollen. The dentist left the root canal open to help the air get out, but he seemed suprised. Where does the air go when it dissipates? I have been searching on the net that this can cause death, but my dentist didn't seem too concerned.... I am very worried. Thank you...

Toni wrote at 2011-06-17 03:47:13
I had a similar thing happen to me when I was thirteen. I switched dentists after moving and while he was crowning a tooth, air got in my cheek from a root canal years earlier that wasn't properly done. They didn't notice until it was done and I thought they were just shoving an excessive amount of cotton in my mouth because I was bleeding. My dentist prescribed me some painkillers (because having your face swollen does hurt a good deal) and then antibiotics to keep an infection in my cheek from developing. The biggest concern is really getting your cheek infected since the air is between two layers of the tissue. After a week or two the swelling should be gone as well as most of the tenderness.

Joleen wrote at 2012-12-16 04:20:33
This happened to me as a 14 year old girl during a filling.  I am now 42.  I remember the dentist and a subsequeñt doctor being shocked by my appearance.  It took a good three weeks to fully look my normal self and then the doctor didn't recognize me when I came for a checkup.  I had no lasting affects from it.

mom wrote at 2013-03-02 02:31:56
My daughter spent 6 hours in the Emergency Room after her dentist pummped air into her face!  as the above states, she was also put on antibiotics.  Is this common?  I know everyone makes mistakes but this guy did not seem too concerned, in as much sent her to emergency and never checked on her.  Sounds like negligence to me.  Then he has the nerve to charge her!


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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and I am available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicine for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor and State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA -University of Connecticut DMD - University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society (OKU), Philadelphia County Dental Society, Mosby Book Award, Oral Surgery Honors, Summa Cum Laude

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