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Oral Surgery/Broken drill bit stuck in root canal on dead nerve


Hello Doctor

Thanks for taking my question.

I had a root canal today and unfortunately a bit broke off and is stuck in one of the three canals being worked on...I have a dead nerve causing a lot of pain.

My dentist was pretty upset because he said he switched to this new system that apparently is supposed to eliminate the broken bits and my bad luck I guess but today was first time in his four years using this system that this happened.

He immediately indicated I should see an endontist who would have ultrasound technology to hopefully dislodge the piece.

I did not know these things could happen and did not sign anything before having the procedure.

I don't think my insurance will cover the endontist or at least not all of it.

Is it appropriate to ask my dentist to cover those charges for me or to not charge for today's visit? Not looking to make money here but certainly don't think I should be expected to pay for a problem that I wasn't warned about ahead of time.

Appreciate your candid thoughts on this.

Best regards


Stacy, This is a wonderful question. Difficult to answer however. Each physician will have their own policy regarding this. One one hand, since there was an error in the procedure (which happens unfortunately), I do not think the dentist would charge you for the procedure since it was not completed. On the other hand, the procedure was needed to be done anyway and an endodontist is the best person to perform these procedures. So you are in the right hands seeing an endodontist. The first thing I would do is to see the endodontist and have the discussion about what needs to be done and if the broken tip is a big deal at all. Sometimes they can be left without any other issues. Sometimes, they are easy to get for the endodontist (depends on the tooth). Once you have all the information, then you can have the discussion with the dentist if necessary. You might even find that if the endodontist and the dentist work well together, they might work something out between them. I hope that helps.

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James M. Ryan. DDS, MS; Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon


Dr. Ryan's expertise is in the field of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Specifically, Dr. Ryan is an expert in Orthognathic Surgery. He holds uniques experience as the former Assistant Program Director of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Training Program at Washington Hospital Center where he trained residents to perform these complicated surgical procedures. Additionally, Dr. Ryan also has a tremendous amount of experience in reconstruction of the maxillofacial skeleton related to trauma and tooth loss. Dr. Ryan is an expert in 3 dimensional treatment planning for Orthognathic Surgery, Dental Implant Surgery and Wisdom Teeth removal. To learn more about Dr. Ryan, his full profile can be seen at


Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery with current hospital affiliations at: Washington Hospital Center Holy Cross Germantown Hospital National Institute of Health/NIDCR

American Dental Association. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. District of Columbia Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. District of Columbia Dental Society. American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Health Volunteers Overseas.

Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Journal of The American Dental Association

S.U.N.Y @ Stony Brook- B.S. in Biochemistry, Stony Brook, NY. Northeastern University- M.S. in Perfusion Technology, Boston, MA. D.D.S.- New York University College of Dentistry, New York, NY. Certificate and Chief Resident- Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC. Clinical Fellow- The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD.

Awards and Honors
Dr. Ryan has received numerous awards including: 2006 American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Dental Student Award, Washington Hospital Center 2008 Nurses' Choice Physician Collaboration Award, 2009 Resident Research Summit Scholarship Award, and the 2011 Outstanding Surgical Attending in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at Washington Hospital Center. He has also authored/coauthored and published several journal articles and held several teaching positions,including assistant professor, while at NYUCD.

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