I have a tooth that has been aching me on and off for a couple of weeks. It will be fine for a long while and then hurt for about ten minutes or so. I finally got worried enough about it to go and schedule an appointment with a dentist who does same-day appointments for urgent dental care. He examined me and then said it was hard to tell so he did an x-ray. That told him that there was an infected tooth where there was already a dental filling. He said it was so far gone that only 10% of the tooth was viable. He recommends I have the tooth extracted and then schedule a follow up appointment for a dental implant. He wanted to extract the tooth right then, which sort of freaked me out. I told him I’d let him know. Is this really necessary? Is there no way to save a tooth that is infected?
I am glad you wrote. There are some things that make me suspicious of this dentist’s advice. First, if the tooth were really that far gone not only would you have been in serious pain for a long time, but your dentist would not have needed an x-ray to tell. In fact, the filling would have fallen into the tooth.
Thankfully, you didn’t go through with the tooth extraction. My suggestion is that you get a second opinion from another dentist. When you do that, make it a blind second opinion. By that, I mean don’t tell them who gave you the first diagnosis or what it was. Many dentists know one another and you wouldn’t want them feeling torn about saying a colleague was wrong. If they don’t know who it was, they are free to give their unbiased opinion.
As for your question as to whether an infected tooth can be saved, the answer is generally ‘yes’. A root canal treatment can save a tooth that is still viable. If that turns out to be not possible for you and the tooth does need to be extracted, then a dental implant is a great tooth replacement. Just make sure the dentist has post-doctoral training in implants. It is an advanced procedure that is not adequately taught in dental school.
This blog is brought to you by Tulsa Dentist Dr. Ryan Noah.