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Accidentally Swallowing Sodium Hypochlorite during root canal

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A discussion started in 2007 but continuing through 2019

December 29, 2013

Q. On Dec 3rd I had a root canal here in Port Hueneme. The medication went down my throat. I was tasting it as post nasal drip for about ten days. On Dec. 5th, I noticed I couldn't sing, and my voice has been compromised ever since. can't really talk well. coughing it up and tasting it for about two weeks. Only yesterday as the temporary filling allowed the medicine to ooze into my saliva as I bit down, did I realize that this medicine could have been the cause all along. I was trying to report all the incidents to the ENT doc I was able to see on the 7th and she told me to put my notebook away, so I didn't get to tell her pertinent details. She just told me I had thick vocal chords and reflux. Well, I am assuming I have had reflux for awhile, but why would it affect me this way now? The only missing factor, the bad suctioning and subsequent ingestion of this poison into my esophagus.

Mary Parnell
- Fairmount, North Dakota

March 1, 2014

Q. Yesterday I went to a dental clinic and did root canal. During the process I smelled something strange like Bleach and I asked the doctor what it was. He said he was cleaning my root and after some minutes I felt very sharp pain in my mouth such that I sat and said doctor wait for a minute. I asked him did he do anything on lower part of my mouth because the affected tooth was on upper. He said No.. Afterwards my cheek swelled badly and the doctor said it's because of using sodium hypochlorite and it had an explosion from a hole at the end of the root to the other tissues. He explained that it will be improved by 100%. Today the swelling has became smaller, but my cheek and around of my lips are numb. I am so worried about that.

Sara Nouri Hekmat
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

April 2, 2014

Q. Hi. I swallowed some sodium hypochlorite recently and since for 3 weeks now it hurts to swallow. Please explain? Is it severe?

Tiri McCorriston
- Perth Australia

April 2014

A. Hi Tiri. Sorry for your pain. You really need to see a doctor and let him/her advise you whether it's serious. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 29, 2014

Q. I went to the dentist last week to have a root canal and when the dentist went to rinse the root that bad tasting stuff they use ran down the back of my throat and I ended up swallowing it and my throat started to burn real bad and I couldn't breathe and I was coughing and gagging like I was going to die. I asked the dentist what that stuff was that I swallowed and she said it was sodium hypochlorite. She didn't use a rubber dam that day and when I went to have the root canal finished 4 days later she used it that day. I told her what happened and she thought I swallowed down the wrong pipe and didn't believe it was that big of a deal and that I over-reacted. I would know if something was burning my throat and I would tend to believe that I would know if I could breathe or not breathe. Having an experience like not being able to breathe is a scary thing to happen to anyone I would think. Is there anything else they can use to rinse out the tooth other than sodium hypochlorite is my question, besides the rubber dam?

David Staufer
- Lakewood Ohio, United States

August 10, 2014

Q. I used hypo to wash. After 10 minutes of soaking, while rinsing the cloth I could no longer breath. My eyes hurts, nose was dripping and I was choking and coughing. I even throw up. Till now I still have serious discomfort in my throat follow with coughing. Please what is wrong and how can I stop this? Please help. Nigeria doctors are on strike.

ettah mathew
- calabar, cross river, nigeria

August 2014

A. Hi. As much water as you can comfortably drink, and as much fresh air as you can breathe is the only non-advice I can offer until you find a doctor, nurse, or someone with at least some training.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
from Abe Books


September 10, 2014

!! I recently went for root canal treatment and while irrigating the tooth some of the sodium hypochlorite got past the rubber dam and into my mouth. Fortunately I immediately managed to press my tongue against the roof of my mouth to prevent swallowing and sat straight up and spat it out, although it did burn the back of my throat. The next day my throat was OK. However in the meantime I happened to read Weston Price's research =>
and that convinced me to have the tooth pulled instead of continuing with root canal treatment.

charles allcock
retired - ipstones, staffordshire moorlands. england

April 27, 2015

A. Yes i agree with them that you should go and have it checked up rather than gathering info. It's much safer to see a doctor to avoid infection and any harm to you.

James David
-Jacksonville, Florida

July 6, 2015

Q. I am going through the root canal treatment. In first and second appointment they cleaned my canal and put some medicine inside the canal. After that they said to come after a month. So that they can check that the canal is healed up properly or not. After the second appointment the gum of tooth swelled up with white centered pus inside. When I smelled the pus, it smelled like chemical or medicine -- pungent smell that they used during the treatment. Is there any serious issue or any side effect of this? Please help me.

sangam kuamr
student - dhanbad,jharkhand,india

December 8, 2015

! Last week my wife went for a root canal on one of her upper front teeth. To make a long story short, the Dentist drilled through the root into the gums. He did not realize or recognize what he had done. Next he proceeded to wash the root with sodium hypochlorite, still not realizing he had drilled through the root. The solution was injected though out her upper gums and jaw. The whole right side of her face immediately became extremely swollen. A week later her whole right jaw feels like it is on fire and hurts. She cannot drink out of a glass without using a straw.

She is being treated with antibiotics and is extremely scared of what will happen to her.

James R. Cox
- Baytown, Texas USA

November 26, 2016

Q. I had an amalgam filling replaced with enamel almost 3 weeks ago. During the procedure I felt something stinging the inside of my gum & had a bad taste but it stopped stinging after a while. The next few days my tooth was fine but my gum was very sore. I returned a week later to be told I had an ulcer to the jaw bone. I was put on antibiotics which made me ill & mouthwash but it's now over a week & still not cleared up. The dentist said he hadn't seen anything like it before. Doesn't know whether it was an allergic reaction but said it was like having a dry socket. The pain is worse than childbirth & I'm sick of it. I do have an auto immune disease & are reluctant to have anymore dental work done.

Michelle Thompson
- Sydney, NSW, Australia

November 2016

So sorry for your suffering, Michelle. Dental pain can be miserable. But you seem to need referral to a dentist who has seen the condition you are experiencing. Readers of this site are probably unlikely to be able to help. Best of luck through this hardship.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

October 30, 2017

! My dentist failed to establish that the tooth's nerve was single, not double and consequently drilled through the tooth whilst trying to find it! The dental dam didn't save me as the 5% sodium hypochlorite went through the tooth and ended up going down my throat.
It was the most frightening thing that has ever happened to me, as I couldn't breathe, made more frightening because it was so unexpected and shocking.
The dentist, who I've been with for decades, was completely unperturbed and showed little concern for my welfare. He said that it had never happened before and tried to play down the seriousness of the incident by showing me the syringe and saying that he had only used a little drop, as if this would allay my very real distress.
How can this procedure be allowed, without some warning beforehand that this could happen?
I have made an appointment with a doctor, as there is a white/yellow patch at the back of my throat, which the dentist said he couldn't see.

Ronald Phillips
- London England

November 6, 2017

A. Hypochlorite is the standard procedure to disinfect the root canal before filling.

A dentist who lets it run down your throat is a boob.

Root canal treatment isn't exactly brain surgery.

Not likely you have any permanent damage, but find a better dentist next time.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

May 15, 2018

thumbs up sign  Jeffrey Holmes
Thanks very much for your reply to my experience of sodium hypochlorite going down my throat.
I decided immediately as you suggested not to go back to the dentist, despite having been with him for 20 years.
I'm now getting pain from the adjacent tooth as well and still having some sensitivity and mucus at the back of my throat.
I have put off returning, but now intend to go back and see the dentist responsible, to find out which tooth he drilled into. Depending on his replies and attitude, I will then decide what course to take, as I do feel aggrieved and must sort this out.
Thanks again,

Ronald Phillips [returning]
- London England

June 28, 2018

Q. Freaking out a bit after reading all of this. Literally just had a root canal and feel like my mouth is full of bandaids (smell and taste). I keep spitting my saliva out scared to death to swallow it. No dam used. Freaking out more bc I have gone through breast cancer last year and am worried I have just put toxins in my body.

Jen Keeler
- Dallas Texas

June 2018

A. Hi Jen. So sorry about your hardship last year.

This is certainly not a dentistry site … just a metal finishing site that went a little off the rails. But I'd be confident that while a drop of diluted household bleach in your tooth tastes a bit funny it isn't dangerous.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

September 23, 2018

Q. I had a regular clean up of my tooth that had undergone a root canal treatment. Today the doctor irrigated the canal with a pungent smelling liquid which almost made me vomit. There has been a temporary loss of taste since then, and the most important thing is, I developed an abscess right under the tooth that has undergone the root canal treatment. Can anybody help me on this?

Kokil Barman
- Guwahati, Assam, India

November 3, 2018

! Everyone that has had a root canal needs to understand that there is inherent risk to doing any dental procedure. Root canal unfortunately gets a bad rep due to the chemical we as dentists have to use in order to clean the inside of the tooth. Yes chlorhexidine or other chemical can be used but sodium hypochlorite 1% is the gold standard because it can dissolve necrotic tissue and that is why it is preferred.

Now there are many reasons how the irrigating solution can be extruded from inside the tooth to outside the tooth. It could be due to poor rubber dam placement or the very tip of the root of the tooth where the opening is very large or eaten away by active infection. Now my brother who was also a dentist did a root canal on me and some sodium hypochlorite escape from the opening in the roots of my tooth into my surrounding bone and it hurt like crazy. I was lucky and nothing happened afterwards.

I would say if you find a responsible dentist that knows how to properly read your situation these things will happen LESS. But do understand that if your dentist feels bad about what happened they probably made a mistake as we are human as well. So if you want to make sure that doesn't happen, maybe go see a root canal specialist every time you need root canal. Just know that you will be paying more for it.

And probably don't consider comments from people that are not actually dentists saying root canal is easy and getting sodium hypochlorite in your throat is noob because they really have no knowledge about the subject to be making that kind of statement.

Harry T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Dentist - B.C. Canada

November 2018

A. Thanks very much Dr. Harry. We deleted your last name because, despite our efforts to maintain the aloha spirit on our pages, people are people -- so somebody in pain may angrily misquote/misinterpret you. It's probably better that they read what "a dentist" offers rather than attributing the statement to a particular dentist :-) But if you prefer, we'll re-instate your name and remove my reply.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

January 17, 2019

Q. I have had to have root canal twice on an upper molar. The 2nd time when the endo was done he sprayed something in the tooth it went thru and dripped out my nose and down my throat . It stung so felt like it was in that side of my face. I still have pain in that tooth and have argued with ent and endo that the tooth was crowned without root canal causing infection that actually broke thru sinus canal making me sick for months to the point I have an ekg in my heart. Each of them pointed at each other for many months. I thought my theory correct after that 2nd root canal due to that stuff coming out my nose. They disregarded that incident. Today reminded me of this issue once again because that tooth hurts. I am fearful to complain and have endured this issue years after. Can anyone give advice please? Thanks, Beth

Elizabeth Mk
- Hilliard Ohio usa

February 9, 2019

!! So I was having a root canal 4 days ago and was almost done with the first half when suddenly I feel this liquid run down my throat and burn me like no tomorrow, I jumped up, I was freaking out, coughing and spitting into the sink I thought I was going to be sick (I was when I got home) my throat was on fire, they had to stop the procedure and the dentist freaked on the assistant who I really like.
When I got home I was sick, my throat burnt and I felt terrible I took some antacids and went to sleep.
The next day I woke up my throat was 80 percent better and I felt fine, around lunch I ate this small homemade apple tart the first food since the root canal then about 45 minutes later my stomach was on fire, if I drank water it burned it didn't matter.
At the time I didn't realize I had swallowed Sodium Hypochlorite, I thought it was fluoride and was surprised I could find nothing on the internet when I searched for a long time it was only today when I went back to the dentist that I learnt what it was.
So it's been 2 days since I ate the apple tart and I didn't try food again until today.
Even with the prescribed antacid (I went to my Dr because my stomach was a volcano) and Pepto pills, a toasted English muffin with one thin slice of cheese had my stomach burning -- thankfully not as bad, so it is slowly getting better, but it's been a MISERABLE EXPERIENCE
I get it was an accident BUT why is this Sodium Hypochlorite being used ? Clearly, I'm not the only person to have this accident happen to them, IT'S ACTUALLY A CHEMICAL BURN, WHY IS THIS STUFF EVEN ALLOWED?

I wanted to share my experience sadly I doubt this will be the last post on the topic I'm sure more will be posting with similar situations

Danielle Baja
- Toronto , Ontario, Canada

February 26, 2019

Comment: I experienced the same thing during my root canal yesterday. I started to gag and sat up. The aide asked if I wanted to rinse and proceeded to squirt water in my mouth. She later told me it was a cleaning agent and safe to swallow. I apologized to both the aide and the dentist for causing a fuss. Now after reading these comments, I believe they should have been apologizing to me.

steven valone
- Chicago Illinois USA

April 24, 2019

Comment: I had a root canal yesterday. And the same thing happened. I was sent to specialist which I thought okay great this is all they do so I will be in wonderful hands. About the middle of the procedure this liquid came over the baffle and down my throat, I seriously thought I was going to die. I couldn't breathe without coughing, the dentist is saying, " this has never happened before, I can't figure out why some got in your throat. After I'm trying to get the rubber away from my face so I can breathe and the assistant, "oh don't remove that or we will have to start all over". I'm thinking, well kinda like to breathe ya know ... horrible experience.

Theresa Miller
- wichita, kansas USA

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