How to Know if a Tooth is Infected?

I am really confused and wondering if one dentist is incompetent or maybe one is just taking me for a ride? I went to the dentist and he told me I had a small cavity. He told me it would only need a small filling. We did the filling and then a few days later the tooth was very sensitive, especially to cold. I went back in and now he is telling me I need a root canal treatment. How can it go from small filling to root canal in such a short time? Is this tooth really infected or am I being taken for a ride?


Dear Connie,


I am suspicious of this and think you need a second opinion from someone who can examine you. If there is a tooth infection, an x-ray should show that pretty clearly. Sensitivity to cold could also be the result of a poorly done dental filling. I’m assuming you had a composite filling done. These can sometimes be tricky. If a dentist is used to placing silver fillings, he may not yet have the skills to place a composite filling yet.

One thing to notice is the senstivity. If it starts to happen even when you don’t have anything cold, that would be a concerning sign. In that case, I would get the root canal treatment. It is better to nip these things in the bud before an infection can spread.

If it is just the filling, just having that re-done by someone who understands the procedure for composites will solve the issue.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.

Dentist Wants to Crown All My Teeth

I haven’t been to the dentist is seven years because of anxiety. I finally plucked up the courage because I was tired of being embarrassed by my yellow smile. I told him I wanted to clean them, make sure they’re healthy, and improve how they look. After the exam, which was discouragingly painful, he told me I have 5 cavities. In order to treat the cavities and improve my smile he wants to crown all my teeth. I feel weird about that because not only are the other teeth healthy, but this is quite an expense he is recommending. I don’t have much experience with dentistry. Is this my only option?


Dear Cal,

woman asleep in the dental chair from dental sedation

The short answer is no, this is not your only option. You are wise to be concerned. The first thing I want to do is address your anxiety and then we’ll talk about your options. It took a great deal of courage for you to go to the dentist. After such a long period, it would be easy to just find excuses not to go. You are certainly not alone in your dental anxiety.

There is dental sedation available for patients in your situation. They can give you a pill that will completely relax you. In fact, some people call it sleep dentistry because patients almost always just sleep through their procedure. This will not only give you pain-free appointments, but it will also allow you to catch up on your dental work much quicker.

As for crowning every tooth, while I have not examined you, nothing you mentioned indicates the need for such a drastic treatment. You have five cavities and you want whiter teeth, is the way I understood what you wrote. If that is the case, all you need to do is have fillings placed on the teeth with the five cavities. Make sure your dentist gives you mercury-free composite fillings, and then get your teeth whitened.

That is faster, cheaper, and much more conservative with your tooth structure.
This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.