Category Archives: Emergency Dentist

Tooth Infection and No Money

What do you do if you do not have money but you have a tooth infection? I’ve got a back tooth which has been bothering me and I suspected it was infected, but now my cheek is swollen up to the size of a golf ball. Is there anything I can do at home for this or is there an antibiotic my medical doctor can provide? Though I do not have dental insurance, I do have medical insurance.

Susan


Dear Susan,

A woman grabbing her jaw in need of an emergency dentist

I am sorry that you are going through this. It is discouraging when you need basic care and cannot afford it. I want to warn you about the concept of just using antibiotics as a means of dealing with a dental infection. This can actually end up end up placing you in a worse situation than you were in before taking the antibiotics. This is because the antibiotics will temporarily hold the infection at bay. Then, once the antibiotics are completed, the infection will flare back up stronger than before.

There are only two ways to truly get rid of a tooth infection: a root canal treatment or a tooth extraction. With a root canal treatment, you remove all the infected pulp in the tooth. This will enable you to save the tooth. If that is not a possibility, than you can extract the tooth. Ideally, you will want to replace that tooth. Otherwise, the other teeth will shift or tip into the space. This can lead to painful TMJ Disorder.

With your cheek swollen up, you have a dental emergency on your hands and need to be seen as soon as possible. When a tooth infection is left untreated, it will continue to spread, even outside of the tooth. People still die from tooth infections, but only if it is allowed to spread.

Many dentists are sympathetic to patients in your circumstance. I would call around and see who is willing to work with you by treating the infection and allowing your to pay out the treatment. You may want to start by calling around to dentists who advertise as affordable dentists.

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

When a Dental Crown Feels Off

I had a root canal and dental crown put on a tooth a couple of years ago, but it has really been bugging me lately. It’s not pain, it just awkward. I know that makes absolutely no sense, but it is distracting. My dentist said he can replace it. I let him, but it did not really make a difference. I am not sure what to do. I feel like I’m going crazy. Have you encountered anything like this?

Andrew

Dear Andrew,

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

When a dental crown is done correctly and nothing else is wrong that has been missed, you won’t notice the crown at all. It will just fit in with the rest of your teeth. That is not happening for you, so obviously, there is something amiss. You are not going crazy.

Believe it or not, I know a colleague, an advanced and experienced dentist himself, that went through something similar. He too was not being listened to by his dentist, so he switched. When he went in for his first appointment, he asked the hygienist to take a periapical x-ray in hopes of getting some more information. Boy did he!

It turned out that the tooth under his crown was halfway eaten from decay from the inside. He didn’t feel pain because that tooth had a root canal treatment done on it, just as yours did. It was a good thing he kept following up on this because that decay could have spread and caused a massive dental emergency with little warning.

The solution in his case was to have the tooth extracted and replaced with a dental implant. In your place, I would suggest that you go back to your dentist and ask for this same type of X-ray. Follow your gut and until you are comfortable, don’t back down. If he won’t follow up, find a different dentist.

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

Can a Dental Infection Cause a Fever?

I tried to schedule an emergency dental appointment for my daughter with her pediatric dentist because she said her tooth hurt. Because she had a fever as well, I assumed there was a dental infection there. My pediatric office sort of dismissed me and said that dental infections don’t cause fevers. Maybe I am missing something, but I was under the impression that any infection can be present with a fever?

Carla

Dear Carla,

Young girl in a dental chair smiling

While, technically, any infection can cause a fever, it is not a common symptom of a dental infection. That being said, I don’t think your pediatric dentist should have just blown you off. You were obviously worried about your daughter and there were some legitimate reasons to wonder if it had to do with a dental issue.

You didn’t say if it was her upper or lower teeth. Sometimes, when upper teeth are hurting and there is a fever present, the thing to check would be for a sinus infection. Our upper teeth are close to our sinus cavity, so it is not unusual for the pain to radiate to the mouth and for it to feel like the teeth are hurting.

It was wise for you to call. Dental infections can quickly turn into dental emergencies rather quickly. If your child’s dentist isn’t taking your concerns as a parent seriously, it is time to find a new dentist for her. There are general dentists who are good with children. That may be an option for you.

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

Is a Cracked Crown a Dental Emergency?

I have five porcelain crowns. They have served me well for just over 15 years. With one, there has been a slight defect in it from the beginning. It was never before visible, but could only be felt by my tongue. Lately, it has changed. I can now see it and it feels more like a crack. I am assuming I have to replace the crown, which I am fine with. I am just wondering if it requires an emergency appointment. I don’t want it to break in public.

Allie

Dear Allie,

Gilbert CEREC Crown

While I would not consider this a dental emergency, I would not put it off either. Based on the changes you described, I would expect it to go sometime soon. It has had a good life. Given the amount of time you’ve had all of these crowns, I would expect that others will start to show their age soon too. You have a couple of choices here. You could replace the dental crowns all at once, or you can just replace them one at a time. There are benefits to both.

If you get them done all at once, you will be done with it. Though, of course that is a bigger chunk of money at once. If you do them one at a time, you can pay a little at a time, but you will be making trips to the dentist more often, possibly at unexpected and inconvenient times. It really is six of one; half a dozen of the other. It’s just which inconvenience is the least problematic for you.

One thing to be aware of is that you don’t want a dentist saying you have to replace them all at the same time in order for them to match. That tells me the dentist does not have adequate cosmetic skill. Speaking of aesthetics. If you want to whiten your teeth, the time to do it is now before you have the new crown made. This way, the crown can be made to match the new whiter color. It is certainly not required. I just wanted you to be aware that teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure so the crowns themselves will not whiten.

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

Antibiotics and a Tooth Infection

I went to see a dentist because of serious pain I was having along with swelling in my cheek that went all the way up to my eye. He said I have a massive infection and gave me some antibiotics. I have been taking them. The infection seemed to be getting better but then got worse again. Now I am out of antibiotics. Do I just call to get a refill or is something else going on?

Morgan

Dear Morgan,

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

Are you certain the dentist you went to didn’t tell you to make a follow-up appointment? Antibiotics alone do not cure a tooth infection the way they do with other types of bacterial infections. Instead, they just keep the infection from spreading. The reason tooth infections are different is because, at some point, the pulp inside the tooth dies. This means there is no longer any blood flow to get the antibiotic to the infected tissue.

This means while the infection will seem to improve for a bit, without completing the treatment the infection will return. When that happens, it is dangerous and considered a dental emergency. This is where you are now.

The Solution to a Tooth Infection

The only way to truly solve a tooth infection is to remove the infected pulp. A dentist can do this two ways. The first is a root canal treatment. This is what you want because it will save your tooth. If that doesn’t work or it is too late to save the tooth, your next option is a tooth extraction.

If you end up having to extract the tooth, you’ll also want to replace it. Because you lose the root of your tooth when you have an extraction, you will want to replace that root. The only tooth replacement that does this is a dental implant. Without replacing the root, the minerals in the jawbone where the tooth was will begin to resorb and the bone in that area begins to disappear.

Bottom line, this is serious. Get to a dentist right away and get this treated.
This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.

Can a Tooth Infection Spread to My Brain?

I’m worried about this tooth infection I have. I went to the dentist and he provided me with an antibiotic but told me not to take it until two weeks before my procedure, which isn’t for another month. I read somewhere that a tooth infection can spread to my brain, but he is insisting there is nothing to worry about. What do I do?

Miranda

Dear Miranda,

toothache

While it is true that a tooth infection can spread to your brain, as well as your heart and lungs, there are some dental infections that are so small, you’d have time before you had to worry about that type of spread. Starting the antibiotic in two weeks, will help prevent it from spreading as well.

The danger often comes when there are patients who avoid the dentist out of fear. By the time they see a dentist, if they do at all, the infection has progressed so far that it is a dental emergency and they need treatment right away or they can put their lives in danger.

This doesn’t sound like you. However, I’m sure you know someone in your life who suffers from dental anxiety. For the benefit of those who do struggle getting to the dentist I want to post here that dental sedation can change their life. By using something like nitrous oxide or oral conscious sedation, which is even stronger, you can have an anxiety-free dental appointment.

Not only will that prevent them from waiting until they need a painful emergency procedure, but it will also allow them to get caught up on their dental care, giving them a healthy smile for the first time in a long time. In turn, this makes the remainder of their appointments easier.

When You May Have a Problem

Though I said this infection likely won’t be a problem, sometimes a dental infection will surprise us and take off suddenly. If your pain worsens or you develop a fever, call your dentist and have him move up your appointment.

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

What’s Wrong With My Root Canal?

Hi there,

I fractured my teeth playing sports a few months back, and was treated by an emergency dentist and released. A few weeks after the accident, my teeth became grey and discolored.  I was in severe pain and had swelling, so I had to go back to the dentist for an emergency root canal.

I was ok for a few days with antibiotics but now the pain is back. I don’t know what to do to get the pain to go away. My tooth is sensitive to cold food and even chilly air. I’m very uncomfortable and want the pain to stop.

Should I have gotten a root canal sooner? Do I need more antibiotics? What can I do about the pain?

Luca, from Quebec, Montreal

 

Hi Luca,

A discolored tooth means there is damage to the root, or an infection may be present. It needs a root canal treatment as soon as possible at the first sign of greying. Once the root is removed, the bacteria is cleared up and the tooth is sealed to prevent further problems. Leaving an infected tooth in your mouth longer than it needs to be there serves no purpose. Oral infections should be taken seriously, as they can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated too long.

It sounds like your root canal treatment was sealed before all the bacteria was removed, which is causing a flare up. Usually, the infection is allowed time and space to drain, but since it has been sealed, there is no where for it to go. Also, a few days of antibiotics is not enough time to be on the medication.

Your best bet is to find an endodontist specializing in root canals. They can fix what has been started, and will advise you on how to properly take your antibiotics for maximum effectiveness.

This blog post is brought to you by Gilbert emergency dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper, of Vista Dorada Dental.

 

 

Can I Put Off a Root Canal?

Hello,

My dentist told me I needed a root canal on my tooth, but I don’t have any pain. How long can I put off getting a root canal?

Haruka, from West Virginia

 

Hi Haruka,

If your tooth is not hurting, or has not hurt in awhile, it may be ok to delay it. It may be what’s called an arrested infection or a latent infection — you may have one but not know it. However, you can still be affected by the infection even if it doesn’t cause pain. Putting off a root canal raises the risk of external resorption —slowly, the infection will eventually kill the root, and the tooth won’t be salvageable. However, an infection caused by active decay will continue until the tooth is destroyed, and action must be taken immediately.

Even without pain, if you have a red pimple-like spot on your gum near the root tip, or the infection is draining in your mouth, these are signs of an active infection. You should make an appointment with your general dentist to get this taken care of. If your pain comes back or you feel severe pain, you should see an emergency dentist.

This blog post is brought to you by Gilbert emergency dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper, of Vistadorada Dental.

 

Is This Crack in my Crown an Emergency?

Hi,

When I got several porcelain crowns placed on my  front teeth, one of them had a defect that the others did not. There has always been this horizontal line towards the bottom of one of my crowns; it’s difficult to see unless you’re looking for it, so it never bothered me before. However, now I can see the fracture line clearly and I can feel it when I run my tongue over it. I’m afraid of it breaking while I’m talking. I’ve had the crowns for over fifteen years, so I’m open to replacing them. Do I need to be seen immediately at an emergency dentist? Or can this wait until my general dentist can see me?

Ross, from Calvin, North Dakota

 

Hi Ross,

This sounds like a cosmetic emergency, but unless you’re in pain or have lost the crown, you don’t necessarily need to see an emergency dentist for this problem. However, instead of going to your general dentist, you should go see a cosmetic dentist. An expert cosmetic dentist can replace the crown. You should try to do this before it breaks completely, because it most likely will in the future. If this happens, you should see an emergency dentist for a temporary crown.

Porcelain crowns often have horizontal “craze” lines, and they are usually undetectable and nothing to worry about. However, since you can now feel the defect, it means your crown has shifted and is in need of replacing.

Depending on the cosmetic dentist you see, they may recommend replacing all of your porcelain crowns due to their age. There is no rush to do this if there are no problems with your crowns. Be aware that it is difficult to color-match a new crown to the older ones unless you go see an expert ceramist.

This blog post is brought to you Gilbert emergency dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper. Please note that cosmetic dentistry is not a specialty recognized by the ADA, but dentists like Dr. Roper have received additional post-graduate training in restorative dentistry, and have the experience to help their patients with their aesthetic concerns.

Emergency Dentist Won’t Fix Crown

Several months ago, I had a crown placed. Shortly after, approximately 3-4 months, a portion of the porcelain broke completely off. Not only was I bothered that the piece fell off so soon after the crown was placed, but it has been bothering me ever since. I returned to the dentist a few times for adjustments, but nothing really improved the issue.

I still need to address the problem, but have zero interest in returning to the same dentist. It is causing me pain and discomfort, so I sought out an emergency dentist who saw me quickly. Unfortunately, the dentist would not correct the current crown issues, stating that, instead, it needed to be completely replaced.

A new crown is not in my budget, especially since the crown should not have broken. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks,
Mike

Dear Mike,

It is understandable that you are frustrated after experiencing these issues. However, it is important to understand that different dentists have different opinions when it comes to treatments and ways to address issues.

You mentioned your crown was broken. It’s possible that there is no way to save the crown and a new one needs placed. If this is the case, it would be good to return to the dentist who originally placed it, to at least attempt treatment, as it would cost less for you.

Dentists have varying opinions on the length of time a treatment should last. For example, a crown should last at least five years. If a repair to the crown is needed, or a crown needs replaced, the dentist should not charge the patient, or at minimum, charge a reduced fee. You should expect that your dentist will stand behind his or her work.

This blog is sponsored by the office of Gilbert emergency dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper.