Tag Archives: tooth infection

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.

Can You Get a Refund from a Dentist Who Messes Up?

I had a dental crown placed on a slightly crooked tooth. A few weeks later, my tooth became sensitive to both hot and cold. He assured me that was normal for the first few weeks. But, a few months later, I ended up in the E.R. from the pain. They told me I needed to see a dentist. I called a couple of dentists but had trouble getting in. Two days later my face swelled up. Luckily, when I called the next dentist and told them, they scheduled an emergency appointment for me. At the appointment they told me there was something called an open margin on my dental crown. Apparently, that led to a tooth infection and I now need a root canal treatment and a new crown. The second dentist said this is because the dental crown wasn’t placed properly.

Here is my problem. I called the first dentist and asked for my money back because I had to get a new grown and root canal treatment. I didn’t think they’d have a problem giving me my money back seeing as they messed up. Man, was I wrong. They told me I am responsible with what happens after they place the crown. But, if the crown was defective, how can that be my fault?

The second dentist showed me the x-ray and it is huge. Should my dentist have taken an x-ray after the crown to see the margin? If so, will that help me get a refund?

Presley

Dear Presley,

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

I am sorry this happened to you. One of the things I suggest you do is get these x-rays from this second dentist. This will really help you. I don’t think a malpractice suit will be worth the money, but there are some things you can do.

1. Tell them you are going to go to the dental board. It will be serious for this dentist if the board gets involved and that may cause your dentist to think twice about not giving you back your money.
2. While you are not going to get enough from a malpractice suit, that does not mean that that you wouldn’t benefit from having an attorney write a letter to your dentist on official letterhead. Your dentist doesn’t need to know you’re not going to court and it could get him nervous.
3. I would see if your second dentist would be willing to talk to your first dentist. Sometimes a dentist will be willing to listen more to a peer than to a patient.

I am glad you got the emergency dental help you needed. In your place, I would switch to the second dentist permanently, especially if they’re willing to confront your first dentist about shoddy work.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Emergency 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.

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.

How Much Dental Work Can be Done at Once?

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?

Kirk

Dear Kirk,

Someone asleep from dental sedation

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.

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

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.

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.

 

 

Is My Pain Caused by my CEREC Crown?

Hello there,

I had three CEREC crowns done on my back teeth recently. I was pleased with how convenient getting the CEREC crowns was, but since then, I’ve had a lot of pain when chewing. Eating anything crunchy or chewy causing a bolt of pain, as though a nerve is exposed or something. My dentist has shaved down some of the crown. He says the pain I feel is from how I grind my food when I chew. Is that the case? I’ve tried being more careful when I eat, but the pain I feel makes me nervous during meals.

Richard from Amityville, New York

 

Dear Richard,

There are a few reasons that can cause a new crown to hurt. One reason may be that the crown is too high, so the rest of your teeth hit it first when you bite into something. The second reason is that the tooth under the crown may be infected. The infection can cause inflammation in the jaw, causing constant jolts of pain when biting or chewing.

Your pain is unlikely to be caused by how you chew your food, as you did not have this problem prior to the crown. Also, CEREC crowns are supposed to fit exactly to your mouth’s specifications, as they are milled to fit your teeth precisely.

Since your dentist has tried to grind down the crown, your pain is not likely to be caused by hitting too high on the crown. You will need to find out if you have an infection, and where it is in your mouth. An X-ray will be needed, and you may want to seek a second opinion if you do not trust your current dentist’s skills.

This blog post is brought to you by Gilbert CEREC crown provider, Dr. Matt 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.

 

Can you get more than one root canal on a tooth?

I had a root canal two years ago from my dentist. I trust him and he usually does a great job. Recently, though, I have been feeling some pain on that same tooth.  I’ve been told before about pain in the teeth being projected (I think it was called) from another hurting tooth. I’m pretty sure that must be it because you can’t get a root canal twice in the same tooth, right?

Pat

Dear Pat,

toothacheThere are times when pain from a tooth is projected, or referred, from another tooth. In your case, though, it truly may be that you are feeling pain from the same tooth that had the root canal.

In most instances where a root canal is completed, the tissue, or pulp, in the tooth is completely cleaned out of the spaces and canals. Then the canals are sealed so bacteria can’t reenter. A crown is put on top and the patient goes home without another thought about the infection in the tooth.

So how come you may need another root canal?

Unfortunately, not all teeth are created equally. Most molars, for example, have three canals leading down to the roots. Every once in a while, those molars either have a fourth canal leading down or the canals are twisted and at angles that make it difficult for a dentist, even a good, competent dentist, to completely clean out the pulp. If that infected area isn’t completely cleaned out or properly sealed, it may cause pain again as infection grows. If that happens, a second or maybe even a third root canal may be necessary.

These scenarios of root canals aren’t common, but they do happen. If your pain continues, you may want to revisit your dentist to check your tooth. He may retreat it or may refer you to an endodontist, a dentist who specializes in root canal treatment.

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