Dentist Left the Tip of an Instrument in the Patient’s Tooth After a Root Canal

During my root canal in March, my dentist told me that the tip of his file broke off and fell into the canal. He said the file is sterile, so he wasn’t going to damage my tooth and try to remove it. He said he would put a post in the tooth and put a crown on it.

I asked him to place a temporary crown until I think about what I want to do with the tooth. I haven’t been able to return to the dentist yet. Is it okay to leave the tip of the file inside my tooth? Lots of people go to this dentist because his fees are lower than others, but I don’t want cheaper care if it means a dentist will be careless. Thanks. Jules


Metal files can break easily, and it’s happened to a lot of dentists—even those who don’t have lower fees for services. A broken piece of a file can be challenging to remove for many general dentists. If the tip of the file is left, a dentist would need to navigate around it and seal the apex or tip of the tooth root. If the broken piece is blocking the apex, it decreases the chances of successful root canal treatment.

If the tip of the instrument irritates your tooth, you might need root canal treatment later. Cementing a post could make it impossible to retreat the tooth.

Side-by-side diagram of an infected tooth being cleaned out with root canal treatment (left) and a healthy tooth to the right.
An endodontist can resolve previous root canal issues

Your safest option is to ask your dentist to refer you to an endodontist, or root canal specialist. Endodontists have special tools to extract the tip of the file and fill the canal of the tooth. Although your dentist might not want to refer you to a specialist, you can insist on it or find an endodontist on your own. It’s good that you asked for a temporary crown until you decide what to do about the tooth. Don’t risk losing your tooth. Visit an endodontist.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

How to Get a Whiter, More Even Smile Without Porcelain Veneers

I want my teeth to be whiter and to close the spaces between them, but I can’t afford porcelain veneers. I’m thinking about a snap-on smile because it will cover both of my concerns. I’m not sure how a snap-on smile compares to veneers, but I know it’s cheaper. Braces are out of the question for the spaces between my teeth. I’m not sure that my research has revealed all my options, though. How can I improve my smile without going into debt? Thanks. Yazi


Before you ask a dentist for a Snap-On Smile, we’ll explain what you can expect. It will help you decide if it’s the solution you’re seeking.

What to Expect from a Snap-On Smile

Cost – You can expect to pay about $1500 for a Snap-On smile. If you wear it all the time, it can last two years or more—depending on how well you take care of it.

Aesthetics – A Snap-On smile fits over your teeth, so it makes them look bulky. Unless you have small teeth, a Snap-On smile might draw more attention to your smile in a negative way.

Feel – It’s an appliance that fits over your teeth. Although you’ll get used to it, it won’t feel natural. And it takes time to learn to speak without lisping while you’re wearing it.

Alternatives for a Brighter, More Even Smile

Alternatives to a Snap-On Smile will give you better, longer-lasting results.

Brighter smile

If you want a brighter smile, teeth whitening is an option that will help your smile look younger. Some dentists offer free or discounted whitening to patients to keep their cleaning and exam appointment.

Teeth whitening will help your smile look younger

Closing gaps or spaces

Also, tooth-colored composite bonding will close small gaps or spaces between your teeth. But it takes an artistic cosmetic dentist to apply dental composite and mimic the characteristics of natural teeth.

If you ask for a specific treatment, some dentists will provide it even though alternatives might work best for the long-term health of your smile. We suggest that you schedule consultations with at least two cosmetic dentists. They will examine your teeth, explain your options, and let you know what to expect.

Miranda Lacy, DDS, a Plano, TX, female dentist, sponsors this post.