Should I still be in pain two weeks after cosmetic procedure?

A month or so ago, I went to Mexico to have a cosmetic dental procedure done and now I’m afraid I made a big mistake. I had several lower crowns done and also veneers on my front upper teeth. I am in so much pain and it’s been a couple of weeks since I had it done. My jaw hurts and one tooth is almost painful to the touch and I can’t even chew soft foods. When I asked the dentist about it, he told me to take ibuprofen to help with the pain and that it’s normal after having so much work done at one time. As for the crown that I can’t even chew on, he said something about it having high contact or possibly needing a root canal. Is it bad that it doesn’t even touch my top teeth when I bite together? Is this much pain normal so long after my procedure and should I just keep taking the ibuprofen until it goes away (I’m currently taking 800mg every 4-6 hours).

Julie,
You are right to be concerned. Taking those amounts of ibuprofen for such an extended period of time is not good for you, and it sounds like it’s not really helping – it’s only masking something that is not right. They amount of pain you are experiencing is not normal after getting crowns or porcelain veneers. Tenderness or soreness for a couple of days should be expected and your bite and teeth should align.

If you are back in the United States, go find a reputable cosmetic dentist in your area – or at the very lease, a competent general dentist. Even if you have to drive an hour or two, it will be worth getting a second opinion to determine what’s wrong before the situation gets worse. Try to back off or stop taking the ibuprofen and if you do need a root canal, don’t go back to the dentist in Mexico – there are only about a handful of good cosmetic dentist in the entire country. Even in the United States, only about 1 of 50 dentists is skilled in the art of cosmetic dentistry, but you should be able to find a reputable doctor near you.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

I shop at the mall, why not whiten my teeth there, too?!

I wanted to get my teeth bleached, but I called around to a few offices and it’s out of my budget. A few of them said they’d give me stuff to use at home for a couple hundred bucks, and the offices that did Zoom whitening charged much more. I’ve been checking out a place at the mall and I’m pretty sure it’s the brand name, but they’re offering it for about $100. Is it safe to do and how can I be sure it’s the real deal? — Amber

Dear Amber,
More than likely, the product you’re seeing isn’t really Zoom whitening, because they sell a professional-grade product. It’s designed for a true dental office, in which a doctor oversees the procedure. Since we don’t know what type of bleach the place at the mall uses, it’s tough to say whether the active ingredient is the same. However, the brand name uses hydrogen peroxide, and many others use carbamide peroxide, which works similarly. If their formula uses one of those in a powerful concentration, it’s probably effective.

The main problem people run into with mall kiosk bleaching is that the technicians aren’t usually dental experts. In an office setting, you’ll have the doctor to oversee your treatment, and will have a highly-skilled assistant performing it. Because the active ingredient is super-strong, safety protocol must be followed, or you can wind up with nasty burns on your gums, the equivalent of sunburn on your face, and very sore teeth. You really need an expert to perform the procedure, not just an average mall employee who took a class and may or may not understand the human body, as well as the chemistry and biology involved.

Cleanliness is also a huge factor. These kiosks may or may not have the equipment on hand to sterilize items before you use them and, again, the person responsible for sanitization may or may not have been properly trained in infection control.

Even if the mall company has managed to secure brand-name Zoom whitening, it’s only safe and effective in the hands of someone who is skilled. In other words, it’s really a gamble to have bleaching done outside the dental office and most dental professionals don’t recommend it.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Crowns or porcelain veneers for tetracycline stains?

I had porcelain veneers placed about 18 years ago to cover very severe tetracycline stains on my teeth. Even though the veneers looked gray, it was better than living with almost black teeth. Now my veneers need replaced, but when I consulted with my current dentist he and his lab tech decided on crowns instead.  I’m not sure this is the best choice… any advice?  — Ann

Dear Ann,
In this case, crowns would be a bad choice. Tell your dentist this is not an acceptable option and seek out a cosmetic dentist to get a second opinion. Since you’ve lived with your current veneers looking gray for all these years, you know that tetracycline stains are not easy to mask. But it sounds like your dentist (and the lab tech for that matter) simply don’t have the experience or skill needed for porcelain veneers – thus their reasoning for suggesting crowns. A true cosmetic dentist would not grind your teeth completely down.

If you want a beautiful, natural looking white smile, do some extra homework and find a  cosmetic dentist in your area. Even if you have to drive a few hours to find one, it will be worth the additional time and effort because you want to do this right.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Should I wait out pain and swelling or insist my dentist see me today?

I woke up this morning with pain and swelling on one side of my mouth. I called the dentist immediately, but they are telling me the earliest I can get in is tomorrow morning. At this point, the only thing I can do is keep popping over-the-counter pain meds and hope that it helps. I will be the first to admit that I usually have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but this is really causing me a lot of discomfort and I feel like it should be considered a dental emergency. I guess my dentist doesn’t agree since they won’t make any effort to get me in sooner. Should I wait until tomorrow or should I call around and see if I can be seen somewhere else?  — Ann Marie

Ann Marie,
This sounds like a dental emergency. It’s likely that you have an infection and the bad news is that it will continue to get worse the longer treatment is delayed and it could quickly become a very serious situation.

Maybe your dental office misunderstood you. Call again, and be very specific describing the symptoms you are experiencing and tell that that you need to be seen today and if they can’t make it happen, then you’ll have to see someone else. Hopefully they will agree to work you in or otherwise they will need to clearly explain why they don’t view it as an emergency. If the latter is the case, they will have to understand why you need to seek treatment elsewhere.

If you have to go somewhere else, call a local emergency dentist first. They tend to keep their schedules more flexible to deal with situations like yours. As a last resort, your medical doctor could buy you some time by prescribing antibiotics. Even if that makes you start feeling better, you’ll still want to see your dentist to determine the cause of the infection and get it treated so that it doesn’t come back.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.