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?
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.
I had a tooth that I neglected years ago because of a phobia I have with dentists. When the pain became too much to bear I went to see somoene who did a root canal treatment. As expected, the appointment was a nightmare. I did not follow through with the dental crown and neither did the dentist. At the time, I considered that a blessing. Now, the tooth is so far gone that it broke. I went to see a different dentist and he said it is infected and needs to be extracted. He gave me two options because of the state of the tooth. I could do it with him using a local or with an oral surgeon using anesthesia. I was tempted to go with the anesthesia because at least it would be pain free. But, the cost is way more than I can do and the oral surgeon wants payment up front. Here is my question. Am I putting myself at risk by doing this with the dentist? If so, I guess I could try to get a loan to use the oral surgeon.
There should not be a reason that a dentist could not do this extraction for you in complete safety. However, that does not mean the dentist you saw is qualified or comfortable doing it. The fact that he suggested an oral surgeon tells me he is not. Plus, given your dental anxiety I do not think a local alone will be enough.
My suggestion is that you see a sedation dentist. They can provide you with oral conscious sedation. This is administered by a pill but strong enough where you can sleep through the entire procedure pain-free. Be aware that you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.
The really great news is people in your situation, with anxiety of the dentist, have found that using dental sedation has changed their lives. They’re not only able to get the help they need without fear, but are able to stay on top of their dental care from then forward.
I hope this gives you some confidence.
This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.
My 20 year old has an impacted wisdom tooth. The dentist thinks they will have to remove some of the bone. He wants her to go under general anesthesia for the procedure. Is this necessary because of the bone? I’m uncomfortable with using anesthesia unnecessarily. There are so many risks and we have a relative with serious complications to anesthesia. What would your recommendation be?
Bear in mind I haven’t examined your daughter. However, at her age I would be very surprised if general anesthesia was warranted. With a twenty year old, the bone is still very pliable because there is not really any cementum accumulation at the roots. She is in the ideal age range to have her wisdom teeth extracted. As she ages, that cementum builds up and makes the procedure more difficult with a greater risk of complications.
My recommendation would be oral conscious sedation. This is sometimes called sleep dentistry. However, don’t push your dentist into that. His suggestion signals to me he is not completely comfortable with the procedure. Your daughter would be much better served finding a dentist who is experienced and confident. To find that dentist, simply do an internet search for “Sedation Dentist”, find out if they do wisdom tooth extractions, then schedule a consult with them.
If they recommend general anesthesia as well, there may be some complicating issues the first dentist did not explain to you. My guess is your second dentist will think oral conscious sedation will be perfectly sufficient.
There are always additional risks with general anesthesia. With your family history, it seems like that risk is higher. I’m with you on this one and would not want to jump into that unless it were absolutely necessary.
I took a pretty bad fall and now two of my teeth are starting to turn black. Is there something that can be done to help this? I have to tell you I haven’t been to the dentist in two years because I have horrible dental anxiety. The last time I went the teeth were healthy.
When a tooth turns black after an injury, it means the nerve inside the tissue of your teeth has died. The treatment for this will be a root canal treatment. Then a dental crown can be placed over the tooth to both protect the tooth and to improve its appearance.
I do understand that you are not comfortable at the dentist and have some dental anxiety you are dealing with. I want to make sure you know there are dentists who work with anxious patients. By seeing a sedation dentist, you can have a completely anxiety-free and pain-free dental experience.
Most dentists offer two levels of dental sedation: nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation. Nitrous is sometimes called laughing gas. It doesn’t actually make you silly as it does give you a relaxed, floaty feeling. This is often enough for some patients to have an easier dental experience. It has the additional benefit of allowing you to get on with your day immediately following your appointment.
If your anxiety is stronger, and for some it is debilitating, then I would suggest oral conscious sedation. This is so strong that some call it sleep dentistry because you are so relaxed you can sleep through your appointment. The only real downside is that, because of its strength, you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment as well as stay with you for a few hours after your appointment until you are lucid and steady on your feet.
I stumbled across your website and am hoping you can help me. I’ve never been so discouraged in my life. I grew up in a very poor family and we could not afford the dentist. They were good parents who worked hard, but dentistry is expensive. I have always had bucked teeth and braces were a wild dream. I spent most of my childhood being teased. Then in high school, I developed a tooth infection. I had a root canal treatment done, but we could not afford the follow-up treatment so I was left with a hole in the back of my tooth. Then, my first year in college the tooth broke in half. It was a front tooth! I was a freshman in college with no resources. One of my professors noticed I always put my hand over my mouth when I was talking and offered to get me a dental crown. I literally cried. Fast forward seven years. I’m married and we have dental insurance. The problem I am facing is my teeth need so much work I just can’t seem to keep up. My dentist seems to have given up as well. He even suggested we just extract them and get dentures. I’m barely 26 years old! Is there any way to save my teeth?
You have had a rough go of things and I am sorry. I did love the story about your caring professor. The compassionate people in this world give us hope, don’t they? While you have a tough situation with your teeth. It doesn’t sound like you have anything unfixable. The first thing I would do is look for a dentist who is willing to work to save your teeth. It sounds like they one you are currently with may not be the best fit for you.
Whatever you do, don’t let him extract all your teeth and give you dentures. When teeth are removed, your body begins to resorb all the minerals in your jawbone, the result of that is the shrinking of your jaw. In about twenty years, you won’t even have enough bone left in your jaw to retain your dentures. There is a way to preserve that bone, using dental implants, but it is very expensive and I don’t think you truly need your teeth extracted.
There are two things you can do to get a handle on this quicker. The first is at home. Most people think brushing is what keeps their teeth healthy. While it is a major contributor, if you are someone who snacks throughout the day, you are inadvertently sabotaging your efforts. Your saliva is a tremendous weapon against oral bacteria because of the minerals contained in it. If you limit your snacking, then you will give those minerals their best chance of fighting decay.
The second thing is to get as much work done as possible at each visit to try to get ahead of this situation. As I am recommending you find a new dentist anyway, look for one who offers dental sedation, specifically something like oral conscious sedation. This will completely relax you and even allow you to sleep if need be. Patients who use this are able to get significantly more work done at each visit.
Before you know it, you’ll be caught up on that dental work.
Hopefully, this helped.
This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.
I have a difficult 5-year-old. I do brush her teeth, but she is a nightmare when I do it. Actually, she’s a bit of a Tasmanian devil. This is especially true in the dental chair where she refuses to cooperate any time they try to do work on her. She now has one molar with a cavity, two that the dentist is saying need to come out, and decay on several other teeth. What is your recommendation for something like this? I don’t know how to get the work done for her.
I can tell you are worried and want the best for your daughter. I do have a way for your daughter to get the dental care she needs with minimal fuss, but I am also going to suggest some tough love to help in the long run with her oral health care. The extensive amount of decay you are describing at her age is almost always a result of constant snacking and drinking.
Our saliva is a big help in the fight against decay. It contains minerals that help fight bacteria between meals. But, when we are snacking or drinking (with the exception of water) too often, it doesn’t give our saliva time to do its job. This leads to extensive decay, even when we have good oral hygiene.
I’m going to strongly recommend you don’t let your daughter eat between meals for a while. She won’t starve and it will help her be hungry for the nutritious meals you make rather than snack throughout the day and not get the value out of the healthy food you make. Juice and soda should also be limited because of the citric acid and sugar contained in both of them.
When you have a child who will not cooperate with their pediatric dentist but there is important work that needs to be done, you may have to use dental sedation. This is sometimes called sleep dentistry because even adults are so relaxed when they use this aid that they can sleep through their entire procedure.
What you don’t want to do is put off this treatment at all. Tooth infections are considered dental emergencies. This is because our jaws are close to our hearts, lungs, and brains. A dental infection can turn life-threatening quickly.
I am on methadone treatments while I am in addiction recovery. I have a lot of dental needs as a result of neglect during my years of addiction. I’m in a lot of pain, but the last time I went to a dentist he refused to give me any pain meds for after the treatment. It was excruciating. I don’t know if I can go through that again. Is there any dentist who will understand my situation? I am willing to allow them to talk to both my doctor and counselor. I’m hiding nothing. I just need to get my teeth tended to without having to face agony afterward.
I am sorry for all that you are facing. You show remarkable courage for both your ability to face your addiction as well as your desire to get your oral health under control. One of the things you are facing is that many dentists are afraid of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) which sometimes cracks down without considering the individual case.
What you need is a dentist who is willing to put his compassion above his fear. You may be better served looking for a sedation dentist. They are already compassionate and treat patients with dental anxiety. You may have to do some calling around, but I am convinced you will be able to find one who will be willing to work with you. Be upfront before scheduling and ask to talk to the dentist directly, explaining you have a unique situation.
One other suggestion. With a sedation dentist, you should have the option of using oral conscious sedation(OCS). This will allow you to get more work done in each sitting than would otherwise be possible, enabling you to catch up on your work much sooner. Plus, it is strong enough that if you wanted to, you’d be able to sleep through your dental appointment.
I recently had a tooth extracted. The whole procedure was a nightmare. It took twelve shots to get me numb. I don’t know how a dentist can miss a spot that many times! Have you heard of this happening before? Is there a way for a dentist to find the right spot the first time so I don’t have to go through that again?
While it is possible that your dentist missed the spot to numb your tooth over and over again, it is much more likely that you had some dental anxiety in the beginning which worked against your numbing medication. Then, as you were still in pain, your anxiety went up even more, creating a vicious cycle. There are too many dentists who do not realize the link between anxiety and the inability to get numb in the dental chair.
The simplest solution to this is to find a dentist who offers dental sedation options. It may be all you need is some nitrous oxide, which is administered with a nose piece, as in the image above. This can relax you enough to enable the Novocain to do its job properly. However, if your level of anxiety is super high, you will be better served with oral conscious sedation. This is significantly stronger, in fact, you will likely sleep through the entire appointment. Be aware though, that it is so strong you will need someone to drive you to and from your dental appointment. You will not be able to do this on your own.
Those who have dental anxiety have found that by using the appropriate level of sedation for stressful dental procedures, they are able to have stress-free as well as pain-free dental appointments.
Dealing with a Missing Tooth
You didn’t mention what tooth was extracted. In most cases, it will be very important to replace the tooth. This isn’t just for appearances sake, though that is important. Without that space being filled, the adjacent teeth will start to drift or tip into the empty space. This will throw off your bite, which can lead to painful jaw problems and even daily migraines.
The best option for replacing a single tooth is a dental implant. This is what I would recommend to a patient of mine.
My dentist tried to numb me for two different procedures. Neither time worked. I’ve always ended up having to go to an oral surgeon and have my work done with an I.V. that knocks me out. That makes getting any dental care quite expensive. Am I condemned to spending a fortune and still not having healthy teeth? Have you heard of someone in my situation before? Is there a different solution?
Yes, I think I know exactly what is going on here. The great news for you is there is a solution. One thing I’ve found is that patients with dental anxiety have trouble getting numb. Sometimes it will seem like the numbing medication is working but once the work starts, they can feel pain. However, if they can be relaxed with something like nitrous oxide before the Novocain is administered, then when they are relaxed give them the numbing medicine, it works almost every time.
Some patients have such a high level of anxiety that they need a stronger level of sedation. For those patients, I recommend oral conscious sedation.
For either of these, you will not have to see an oral surgeon. Just do an internet search for a “Sedation Dentist”. They are able to help you in the office, saving you a good amount of money. You will also find that if you use oral conscious sedation, your dentist will be able to do a lot more work in each sitting. This will allow you to catch up on your work more efficiently. In fact, you’ll probably sleep through all the work.
One thing to be aware of, however, is oral conscious sedation, though administered with a simple pill, is so strong you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.
Once you’ve caught up with your work, if you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive way to improve the appearance of your smile quickly, I’d consider teeth whitening. That one procedure takes years off the appearance of your smile.
I will be honest and admit that I have neglected going to the dentist for many years now. However, it has gotten to the point that I need to do something. I can see decay and a couple of broken teeth. I’m sure I need even more work than I think I do. In order to get this over with fairly quickly (you can probably tell dentists aren’t my favorite thing), how much work can be done in one sitting, so I can minimize the appointments?
While each dentist varies from office to office in how much they’ll do at each appointment, you will find the dentists who are willing to do the most in one sitting are sedation dentists. There is a procedure, oral conscious sedation (OCS), that enables both the patient and the dentist to get through more work at a time. Some people have dubbed it sleep dentistry because they are so relaxed they end up sleeping through the entire procedure.
There are many reasons patients avoid the dentist. One of the leading causes is dental anxiety, which can usually be traced back to a traumatic dental appointment. Having a means to experience stress-free and pain-free appointments with OCS has changed many lives.
Avoiding a Dental Emergency
Hopefully, you’ll find a sedation dentist fairly soon. I am especially concerned about the broken and decayed teeth. These can quickly turn into a dental emergency if the pulp of the tooth becomes infected. When you think about how close your jaw is to your heart, lungs, and brain, you can see how a simple tooth infection can turn life-threatening.
People tend to underestimate the seriousness of toothaches, which is why even in the twenty-first century we still have people who die from a tooth infection.
I’m not saying this to frighten you. I just want you to recognize, if the tooth starts to feel pain or if a pimple develops on your gums, both are signs of an infected tooth and you will need to be seen as soon as possible.