If you’re afraid of going to the dentist, this might not be the article for you. A root canal went horribly awry after a patient discovered that their dentist accidentally left part of a hand file in their tooth. The state of Florida then filed a complaint against the dentist responsible for the incident, which could result in their medical license being suspended.
A Dispute Over Treatment
According to the complaint filed by the Florida Department of Health, Dr. Alberto Graupera disagreed with his patient regarding the best way to fix their broken tooth. The dentist recommended extracting the tooth and replacing it with an implant, but the patient reportedly told the doctor to perform a root canal instead to try and save the tooth, so it wouldn’t have to be removed. Graupera then performed the root canal as requested.
The complaint says, “Patient J.V. became upset during the procedure and expressed a desire to seek a second opinion. [Graupera] placed a seal on the incomplete root canal and Patient J.V. did not return to [Graupera].
The patient then went to an endodontist who “identified a retained hand file instrument” near the tip of the tooth’s root “as well as the perforation of the floor of tooth No. 31’s pulpal chamber.”
Experts say the pulpal chamber is located beneath the dentin layer, the hard tissue right below your enamel. This is where your dental pulp lives. Toothpaste manufacturer Cogate says, “Pulp is the soft tissue at the center of your teeth housing connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels.”
The state complaint goes on to accuse the dentist of leaving the tool inside the patient’s mouth. “While [Graupera] performed the root canal, a hand file separated in tooth No. 31. [Graupera] did not notify Patient J.V. of the hand file separation in tooth No. 31.” The complaint reads.
Local reporters for The Miami Herald contacted the dentist’s office for comment and confirmed that Graupera still worked there, but it’s unclear where he was working at the time of the incident.
Suing for Malpractice
The patient in question may also decide to sue the dentist if the state takes action against their license.
It’s not unheard of for dentists to leave parts of their tools behind in patients’ mouths.
A patient from New Mexico says a dentist left a gauge and file in their mouth during a root canal, which led to years of pain and suffering. “Since it happened, I have had numerous infections and have been put on antibiotics numerous times. These infections have made me extremely sick and have worsened my anxiety and PTSD,” they wrote in 2015.
The patient added that they would have to have oral surgery to remove the tooth and treat the infection.
“I also had to have sinus surgery in 2016, the side of my face where my tooth infection has been festering for a decade is the side of my face where my sinuses were the worst, so I’m pretty sure my sinus surgery was related to my tooth. Both my ENT and Endodontist have told me that tooth infections and sinus problems are related,” they added.
They didn’t realize the dentist was guilty of malpractice until 10 years later, when the endodontist discovered the metal parts in their mouth. Unfortunately, it was too late to sue for damages at that point, as the state’s statute of limitations for these kinds of cases is 3 years.
Be sure to get a second opinion if you notice something wrong after a root canal.