Category Archives: Dental Emergency

Dentist Won’t Remove My Tooth

I have been having a lot of dental work done. I recently had two root canals done. One of them has never felt quite right. I have a wisdom tooth that is infected and my dentist wants to remove it. I’m all for that. However, I also want to remove the tooth that had the root canal treatment. He won’t do it. I’m waiting until I can get both done. Is there anything I can say to convince him to take that tooth out?

Stacey

Dear Stacey,

A woman holding her jaw in pain

While I am sure you can find a dentist who would be willing to take out the extra tooth that you would like removed, I’m not sure you want to do that. If your dentist thought the tooth was infected, he would certainly take it out. After all, he would make more money taking out an extra tooth. So why is he saying no? The only reason I can think of is he has integrity and is not willing to take your money unnecessarily. In all honesty, I think that is something to be grateful for.

Please don’t put off getting that infected wisdom tooth removed. A tooth infection is serious and will spread. If you think about how close your jaw is to your heart, you do not want the infection reaching there. You are putting yourself in serious risk by holding out to try to convince him to do this other tooth.

If you still want to insist on having both removed, as I said earlier, I am sure you can find a dentist willing to take your money.

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

My Husband is Being Tortured By Our Dentist

My husband had an accident that caused some damage to his chin and teeth, as well as gave him a concussion. We took him to the ER, then the dentist the next morning. The dentist said everything needed some time to calm down. When it did, one of his teeth started turning dark. Fortunately, he wasn’t in pain. Our dentist said she didn’t see anything and only felt dried blood. From there, she gave him a dental crown. Fast forward a couple of months and he was in severe pain. Our dentist then gave him an emergency root canal treatment. She prescribed him 5 days worth of antibiotics then finished up his root canal treatment a week later. Even after the root canal treatment, the pain continued. The dentist provided him with no pain relief medication. After another week she decided to root canal the tooth next to the one she previously treated. That also did nothing. My husband is in absolute agony and I feel like her lack of caring is border line torture. What should we do to get him the help he needs?

Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Man in pain, grabbing his cheek in need of emergency dental care.

Your husband has been through so much and I can tell how much you care about him. Your dentist has made a couple of big mistakes here. First, when the tooth first started to discolor, it needed a root canal treatment right then. I don’t know why your dentist didn’t do one. It makes no sense to me. The dried blood should have been a giant hint that the tooth was dead, even if the discoloration didn’t tell her that.

Next is the way she handled the root canal treatment itself. The way she provided only five days of antibiotics, but waited seven days to close the root canal tells me that she doesn’t understand how these infections work at all. By allowing the antibiotics to run out, she also allowed the infection to flair back up, then she closed the tooth. No wonder your husband was in pain. She never got rid of the infection and closed it up inside the tooth. Then, she did a useless treatment on the adjacent tooth.

Your husband is not being served well by this dentist. I highly recommend that you call an endodontist first thing in the morning. They are root canal specialists and can get this treated correctly. When you call, let them know what has happened so they can get him some antibiotics and pain relief while they get his appointment ready. I’m certain they’ll schedule him an emergency appointment.

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

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?

Connie

Dear Connie,

toothache

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.

How Long Can I Put Off a Root Canal Treatment?

I have a tooth that needs a root canal treatment. My wife thinks it is urgent and I need to get it checked right away. There is absolutely no pain from this and I think it can wait, especially since I’ve been laid off. If I absolutely had to, I could take money out of savings and deal with this, but I would rather wait until I had some income again. Is that possible? My wife is absolutely certain I am going to die from this if I don’t see a dentist.

David

Dear David,

Man in pain, grabbing his cheek in need of emergency dental care.

I cannot give you hard and fast numbers, but there are some general guidelines that apply here. First, though, let me explain why your wife is so worried. Believe it or not, there are still people who die from tooth infections. There was a fairly recent case that made the news about a truck driver who died from his tooth. He’d planned on getting an appointment but was too late. That being said, not every infected tooth has to be seen right away. It depends on if it is an active or latent tooth infection.

Signs of an active tooth infection:

  • Current or recent pain
  • Drainage by the infected tooth
  • A pimple on your gums

Any of the above tells me you need to be seen by your dentist and have the root canal treatment done. On the other hand, if your tooth has no pain at all and has not for a while, then you have a latent infection and can afford to put off your root canal treatment for a bit. If the pain returns, call your dentist right away to schedule an emergency appointment.

Is there a risk in waiting?

There are a couple of risks here. One is that the tooth infection blows up quickly causing you to need a more invasive treatment than would have been necessary. A second issue is that your tooth doesn’t hurt for years, but because of what was going on in the background you end up with root absorption and your tooth can no longer be saved. Then, instead of a simple root canal treatment, you end up with a tooth extraction and the cost of a tooth replacement, such as a dental implant.

If you’re in no pain whatsoever, wait and see if the job situation turns around. If it looks like this may be a long-term problem, go ahead and get the treatment while it is simple.

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

Can’t Afford Wisdom Tooth Extraction

I have a back, lower wisdom tooth that cracked some time back. Since then, I’ve been having problems with it falling apart little by little. More and more pieces are falling off. I don’t think there is any more pulp but the tooth is sensitive. I’m wondering if I can just let this slowly fall out by itself or if I have to go to the dentist to have it extracted. I’m dead broke so am hoping I can avoid the dentist. I lost my business during COVID, then got a job with another company and they’ve recently had to shut down as well. What do you think?

Paul

Dear Paul,

Man in pain, grabbing his cheek in need of emergency dental care.

I am sorry for all the losses you have sustained during COVID. Losing something you built up yourself is heartbreaking. Compound that with the stress of not feeling like you can afford the care you need and I really feel for your situation. There are a couple of ways this can go. First, it is possible that the tooth will just slowly fall out on its own with no problems for you. However, there is also a possibility that an infection will get into your bone and cause pretty serious problems.

One thing that confuses me about your description is the idea that you don’t think there is any more pulp but the tooth is sensitive. If the infection got into the pulp then the tooth should be dead and it would not be sensitive, unless you are talking about sensitivity to when you are biting down instead of being sensitive to air.

Given your financial situation, here is what I am going to recommend. As long as you don’t have any swelling around your jaw, you are safe to wait this out and hope the tooth dies away on its own. If you start to have swelling, then you have an emergency dental situation and you need to see a dentist as soon as possible.

There are affordable dentists who would be willing to work with you on the payment issue. This would be especially true for someone in your situation who needs real help.

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

In Pain After Dental Work in Mexico

I need some advice and am wondering if I have a dental emergency on my hands. I went to Mexico to save some money on my dental care. They gave the three crowns in all. One of the crowns fell off after a few days, so I made the trip back to have it fixed. Then, they told me it needed a root canal treatment in order to have the crown replaced. When I asked why they didn’t do that to begin with they said root canals only work sometimes so aren’t worth it unless there is a problem. It sounded like they were trying to save me money before so I agreed to the root canal treatment. Now I am in massive pain and the tooth is really sensitive. I called them back and they said I would need to come back in. Now they are saying the tooth is cracked and I will need to extract it and get a dental implant. If it wasn’t cracked before does that mean they cracked it when they did the root canal? Do I go ahead with this extraction and replacement? I’m starting to lose confidence in them.

Bryce

Dear Bryce,

Man in pain, grabbing his cheek in need of emergency dental care.

STARTING to lose confidence in them? I lost confidence back when the dental crown fell off. Properly bonding on a dental crown is a pretty basic dental procedure. Even the worst crowns should last a minimum of five years. Yours did not even last a few days. As for their root canal treatment, the excuse that they don’t always work does not wash with me. While root canal failure is a thing, if your tooth is infected you need a root canal treatment. Period. However, I don’t think you needed one. You gave no indication to me that you were in pain, which is one of the signs of an infected tooth.

I think you were given an unnecessary root canal. Not only that, they didn’t finish it. If they had, you would not be in pain. You can only have sensitivity in a tooth if there is still some viable tissue. A root canal treatment is supposed to remove all the inside tissue. Obviously, they didn’t. Now they are saying the tooth is cracked and you need to replace it. Even if it is true that the tooth is cracked, that does not make it unsavable.

I would not let these people anywhere near your teeth for even a second. I don’t know what the laws are in Mexico for patient recourse in these situations, but you may end up just having to cut your losses. If you are in pain, and it sounds like you are, I’d like you to schedule an urgent dental appointment with a dentist here in the United States. Get a true evaluation of this tooth and see where you stand. Then we’ll have a better idea of how you can get this healed.

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

She Should Not Trust This Dentist

I need some advice. I went to the dentist because of a toothache. It was actually hard for me to go because I have a lot of dental anxiety. When I got there he said that there is an infection in a tooth that already had a filling. He said the tooth is too far gone to save and it needs to be extracted then replaced with a dental implant. He gave me some antibiotics and scheduled me to come back in less than a week for the extraction. I’m having serious doubts about this, but it may just be because I don’t like dentists. Should I just move forward with this or are there other options?

Mandy

Dear Mandy,

A woman grabbing her jaw in need of an emergency dentist

I am very glad you wrote. I think you need to get a second opinion before moving forward with this. If the tooth were as far gone as the dentist indicated, he would not have needed an x-ray to see that. Your filling would literally be falling in on the decay. Plus, you would have been having severe pain for a while and that isn’t something you mentioned. You seemed to indicate the pain was fairly new. Have another dentist look at this just to make sure this is what your tooth really needs. It’s better to be safe in cases like this.

It showed real courage and wisdom to go to the dentist when you had a toothache, even with your dental anxiety. Tooth infections are considered dental emergencies and you did the right thing even if I am not sure you should trust this dentist.

I want to address something that can help with your anxiety. When you get your second opinion, try to find a dentist who offers dental sedation options. Doing it that way will enable you to get an anxiety-free and pain-free appointment. Patients with anxiety find dental sedation can change their lives and enable them to finally get all the dental work they’ve been avoiding for years done.

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

Can a Root Canal Infect a Salivary Gland?

My daughter has had two salivary gland infections and they are both on the same side where she had a root canal treatment done. Is it possible the root-canaled tooth is infecting her salivary gland?

Kerrie

Dear Kerrie,

A woman grabbing her jaw in need of an emergency dentist

I’m sorry about the ordeal your daughter has been facing. That must be painful. The first thing I would suggest is that you have some x-rays done for her tooth with the root canal treatment. In order for the salivary gland to get infected from the root canal, there would have to be an active infection in the tooth.

Root canal failure is fairly common so I wouldn’t be completely surprised if there was an active infection. You should be aware that the chances of a successful procedure go down with each root canal retreatment. If it turns out your daughter does have an active infection, you will have a better chance of success with the follow-up treatment if you go to an endodontist. It isn’t a guarantee, but they specialize in these treatments and will have more experience. Don’t put off the re-treatment. These type of infections are considered dental emergencies.

When a Tooth Cannot Be Saved

Sometimes, a tooth cannot be saved. When that happens, the tooth needs to be extracted and replaced. The best tooth replacement is a dental implant. You didn’t mention how old your daughter is. For her to get a dental implant, she would need to have a fully developed jaw. Until then, a temporary replacement (like a dental flipper) will keep the space open and will cost you less than other replacement options.

If the x-ray determines there is not an active infection, then whatever is going on with her salivary gland will have nothing to do with her dental health. I would suggest further investigation.

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

When Does a Tooth with a Root Canal Treatment Need a Crown?

I have a root canal treatment that has never been crowned. Recently, I read that is a mistake. Should I get this crowned? I used to have dental insurance, but now I don’t so I don’t want to spend the money if I don’t have to. What are your thoughts on it?

Bruce

Dear Bruce,

I’m very glad this question came up because I have seen some people just crown every tooth that had a root canal. In some cases that can do more harm than good. Much of the answer to this question will depend on which tooth you are talking about. If it is a back tooth, such as a molar, then I would say to crown the tooth. It will protect it from the type of biting forces those teeth face. With other teeth, it gets more complicated.

illustration of a a front tooth

The biting stresses on a front tooth and their adjacent teeth are mostly horizontal because of the tearing stress. This means the neck of the tooth is the most vulnerable. By the time you prepare a tooth for a dental crown, it loses a minimum of 30% of its diameter, putting additional stress at the neck of the tooth. If that tooth also lost a significant amount of structure before the root canal treatment because of decay, there will be even less structure there.

If you place a dental crown on a front tooth that doesn’t have the necessary diameter to support the forces it is subjected to, it could end up breaking at the gumline. Some dentists try to overcome this by placing a post in the tooth, though that can increase the chances of the root fracturing, which will require an expensive repair.

The issue with front teeth after a root canal is that they tend to turn dark, which becomes an appearance issue. Our smiles are one of the first things people notice about us so we want them to look as nice as we can. Here is my advice on how to keep its white color longer and what to do when it does turn dark.

Helping a Tooth with a Root Canal Keep its Color

Your dentist needs to thoroughly clean out any root canal material and cement from the crown of the tooth, these are huge contributors to the dark appearance. Next, he or she should place a white fiberglass post into the tooth. Fiberglass is more flexible and will help with the stress. Finally, fill the remainder of the open area with white composite filling material. Doing this will extend your tooth’s color.

If it does eventually turn dark, instead of crowing it, I would suggest a porcelain veneer placed on that tooth. That removes far less structure, which will be better for the tooth viability in the long run.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.
We treat dental emergencies.

This Dentist Doesn’t Understand Tooth Infections

I had a tooth infection and went to see a dentist. It’s my first time with this dentist. To be honest, I usually avoid dentists but this one couldn’t be helped I was in so much pain. He gave me and antibiotic and I started to get better, but now I’m worse again. Do I need a second round or did I have the wrong antibiotic?

Leslie

Dear Leslie,

A woman grabbing her jaw in need of an emergency dentist

Either there is some miscommunication between you and your dentist or he has a profound lack of understanding of how dental infections work. An antibiotic is only useful to hold off a dental infection. It won’t cure it. In order for a tooth infection to be completely treated, a dentist has to get in there and physically remove the infected pulp. This can be done by a root canal treatment or by extracting the tooth completely.

It is always better to try and save a tooth, so a root canal would be my first recommendation. If your dentist didn’t tell you this would be necessary and just prescribed you antibiotics and sent you on your way, I would consider this gross negligence on his part.

Yes, you would start to feel better after taking the antibiotics, because they were doing their job. Once they ran out, however, because the infected pulp is still there, it rears its ugly head again. This will continue to spread and what was a dental emergency can turn into a life-threatening emergency rather quickly. This is because your heart, lungs, and brain are all close to your jaw. This needs to be treated.

Dealing with Dental Anxiety

I noticed you said you usually avoid dentists. That is a common issue, especially with patients who suffer from some dental anxiety. If that is you., one step you can take that will help is to see a sedation dentist when you go in for your treatment. They can provide you with a pill that will completely relax you, allowing you to get the dental care you need in an anxiety-free and pain-free way.

Please don’t put this treatment off. It’s important. Sadly, people still die from tooth infections.

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