Category Archives: Dental Emergency

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.

Why is my tooth turning gray after I went to an emergency dentist?

Several weeks ago, I visited an emergency dentist because of an intense toothache. After his assessment, he concluded my tooth was fine, but it did have a small crack in it. He later placed a new crown, and, although the pain was better, it was not gone. The dentist suggested that I would need a root canal if the pain did not go away. While it is better, it has not gone away. However, I would prefer to not have a root canal, so I’ve been trying to remedy the pain with Ibuprofen, but there really hasn’t been any change, and today, I noticed the tooth next to it changing to an almost gray color. Is it possible that the crown is whiter than my other tooth? Or, is it possible that the work of the emergency dentist I saw could have done something to the other tooth?

Thank you,
Vicki

Dear Vicki,

Teeth turn gray when they are dead or injured, similar to our skin bruising after trauma, but our teeth are behind an enamel surface. The treatment for this is a root canal because the tooth needs cleaned out and filled from the inside, to prevent the build-up of bacteria, which will, in turn, cause infection. The sooner this issue can be addressed, the better.

It is unlikely that the emergency dentist caused this. It could be that your tooth was hurt or damaged all along. Teeth often cause the teeth around them to be in pain. If this is the case, the original diagnosis may be incorrect. Another possibility is that both of your teeth could have been injured at the same time. This would be true, for example, if you bit down on something hard, causing trauma to the graying tooth, and causing its neighbor tooth to crack. While the tooth may not have died right away, it could be slowing fading with time. Finally, it is possible that the two teeth have issues which are completely unrelated. Lastly, you could be looking at two totally unrelated incidents, which happen to be affecting two neighbor teeth. You will likely never know if the original diagnosis was incorrect. However, if you believe this is the case, ask the original dentist for a copy of the x-ray and seek another option from a different dentist, and also have the gray tooth assessed. If something was missed on the original x-ray, you should receive a refund for what you paid to have the crown done. However, if nothing was missed, the dentist’s actions were based on your original symptoms, and the diagnosis may or may not have been correct.

This post is sponsored by Gilbert emergency dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper.

My son’s tooth was knocked out by a baseball–should I have seen an emergency dentist?

My eight year old son lives and breathes baseball. He is constantly playing with baseballs, bats, if not on a ball field, and is always practicing. With that comes many bumps and bruises. However, he recently took a ground ball right to the mouth. He saved the ball, but lost his front tooth! There was some blood, and his mouth and gums were swollen, but he didn’t seem incredibly upset. The coach and I helped him calm down, and once he was back to his normal self, we took the tooth home for the tooth fairy.  Should I have taken him to an emergency dentist?

Sincerely,
Sarah

Dear Sarah,

I’m thankful your son is okay! Even the best ball players take one for the team from time to time. I can answer your question in two ways.

One, if your son has already lost his front tooth, I am very hopeful you have already sought dental attention. If the tooth he lost was permanent, it would have needed immediate emergency dental attention in order to be implanted again. The best course of action would have been to carefully collect the tooth, making sure to keep any attached tissue intact, place it it in wet towel, or even back in your son’s mouth, and head to the an emergency dentist right away.

If the lost tooth was not an adult tooth, it would not have been a dental emergency, nor a great need to have the tooth implanted again. However, he may have damaged his mouth in another way, or possibly  injured the adult tooth underneath. If this is the case, a  it might recommended that a spacer be placed to make sure the adult tooth has room to grow in, so visit to your family dentist, or a pediatric dentist, would be a good plan.

 

Should I see an emergency dentist if my jaw hurts?

My jaw has been popping for a long time. Sometimes it also seems to need to open at an angle or to the side a little, not just straight down.  I don’t know why, but now whenever I open my jaw wide, it’s like it is grinding. This week it has started to hurt and I wonder if I have dislocated my jaw. Should I see an emergency dentist?

Cynthia, Columbus, OH

Dear Cynthia,

Jaw pain from TMDFrom the list of your symptoms, you may be suffering from Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD. Sometimes this is also know as TMJ and includes a number of problems associated with the jaw. Some patients with TMD just feel uncomfortable and others experience severe pain.

Symptoms of TMD

When you do suffer from TMD, you may experience that grinding sound, also known as Crepitus. That occurs when you have bone grinding on bone. You may also experience headaches, clicking sounds, restricted motion, and/or pain. You may be further on the spectrum, but unless your jaw is locked closed and your jaw can’t be manipulated open, it probably doesn’t warrant a trip to the emergency dentist.

There are several factors  that can affect TMD. If you grind your teeth at night or clench your jaw, especially if you are stressed, it can aggrevate it. Your jaw can be affected if your bite is off. Arthritis may play a part. There are many reasons why your joint hurts or the muscles around that joint aren’t working well together.

To help ease your discomfort associated with TMD, you can use a moist heating pad on your jaw for 20 minutes a day. If you know you are stressed and it is making your symptoms worse, try to find ways to alleviate it. This may include exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques–whatever works for you. Also, avoid chewing gum and clenching your teeth.

Because TMD can get worse if left unchecked, you will want to see a dentist who is experienced in TMD.  You will most likely be given an appliance to help you with your symptoms.

This post is sponsored by Vista Dorada Dental in Gilbert, AZ.

Will an Emergency Dentist Bill a Venue for Me?

I’m in a bind. I’m a college student who grew up in a group home. Once I turned 18 I’ve been pretty much on my own. I went on a date where we went dancing. They had a platform which we were dancing on along with a bunch of other people. Apparently too many people because it collapsed. Outside of a few bruises and realizing my date cared more about his well-being than mine, I thought I was okay. But, this morning my front teeth feel loose. I don’t have a ton of money but I don’t want to lose my teeth. Would an emergency dentist charge the venue? I don’t know if I have enough to cover this. I don’t even know what “this” is.

Corra L.

Dear Corra,

A woman grabbing her jaw in need of an emergency dentist

First, I want to express that I’m sorry you’ve had to grow up in a group home. Hopefully, you have a good group of friends that help you feel you have some back up in this world. It is important that you see an emergency dentist. In the meantime, be sure not to wiggle them. I know it’s tempting, but you risk snapping your ligaments, which will derail your efforts to save the teeth.

I’m going to start by telling what to expect when you see an emergency dentist. They’ll check the tooth along with x-raying it to make sure no damage is done to the pulp. IF the pulp is damaged, you’ll need a root canal treatment and dental crown. Because you’re talking about your front teeth, be sure they only give you all-porcelain crowns (as opposed to the metal-based crowns). They look more natural and you won’t have to worry about a gray line developing at the top of your gumline.

If the pulp is fine, they’ll just need to splint your loose teeth to some stable teeth. It may just be a matter of giving the ligaments time to heal.

Affording an Emergency Dentist

Unfortunately, the dentists will not be able to bill the venue. Dentists can only bill those receiving the service or their guardians. However, save every receipt for every scrap of money this costs you. I’m sure they’ll be a lawsuit of some kind given that people were hurt and you’ll probably get the money back.

Even though the dentist can’t bill someone else, it doesn’t mean you’re trapped and can’t get the help you need. Most dentists went into the field because they wanted to help people. In fact, there are affordable dentists who will be willing to work with you. I believe, you especially, given your unique circumstances, will find dentists compassionate.

Some have in-house payment plans. Others use Care Credit. Either way, you should be able to get the care you need and then pay it out.

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