I saw an emergency dentist a couple of days ago and am very upset. A little over a year, it was suggested I get a filling, and I have been putting it off. I mentioned this to the emergency dentist but added that the tooth next to that tooth was the one giving me the trouble at the time of my emergency visit. I indicated the issues I’d been having on the phone, therefore assumed they were going to do the fillings during my visit.

During my visit, he ran a few tests. In other words, he hit my teeth with his mirror a few times. Since my teeth were hurting when I went in, this caused me even more pain. He then proceeded to tell me that I needed a filling, but not on the tooth in question. I then asked about the tooth with the pre-existing cavity, to which he answered also needed a filling. He then told me I would need to come back. I’m still in pain. The visit to the emergency dentist did nothing! Do you think it’s possible that I could have an infection, or something else serious? I don’t want the issue to go unnoticed just because that dentist was in a rush to get through the appointment.

Thanks,
Doug


Dear Doug,

Typically, most infections are obvious. If the dentist performed an x-ray and exam, the infection would have been hard to miss. Cavities are capable of causing tooth pain, especially if they are deeply rooted. Not always are they indicators of infection or a need for a root canal. Regarding the tests, the dentist was likely trying to determine which teeth were causing you trouble, in order to recommend the best treatment route. It’s possible that your tooth could have passed its pain onto its neighboring tooth, or it could be cracked and be causing the pain, which is not always obvious, even with an exam or x-ray. However, the tests are a critical part of a thorough exam. That all being said, it’s alarming that your second cavity was not mentioned until you brought it up. This does indicate that your dentist was rushing through his work, making it understandable to question his assessment.

Moving forward, it would be wise for you to have those fillings done as soon as you can, and consider using a different dentist. It’s important to keep in mind that not all dentists allow time for the work when they haven’t completed an exam. This is because they don’t the amount of time that will be needed, or whether or not the patient will go through with the procedure due to the costs. If you do schedule your fillings with another provider, consider an early appointment, and be sure to pass on that your teeth have recently been diagnosed and the recommended treatment. Finally, ask if they could set aside time for the repairs during this appointment.

This post was written by the office of Gilbert emergency dentist, Dr. Matt Roper.