I have an abscessed tooth on one of my upper teeth. I called my dentist and asked for antibiotics, but he said he wants me to come in instead. I told him I didn’t want to go anywhere until after the quarantine. He proceeded to tell me he could give me one prescription of antibiotics, but after they run out the infection will return and, if I don’t get it treated, will spread to my brain.
I know most governors have closed dental offices because of COVID-19, except for dental emergencies. Is this just my dentist trying to scare me so he can get some business? I’m sure he needs the business and I understand he’s likely struggling financially, but I don’t want to risk getting this virus so he can make some money.
This isn’t your dentist’s way of trying to get money. He is trying to protect you though. Dental infections are a bit different in that antibiotics alone are not enough. At some point, the pulp of your tooth dies, which prohibits blood flow from reaching the infected tissue.
Your tooth will start to feel better for a bit, but then once the antibiotic runs out, it will return. While that doesn’t guarantee it will spread to your brain, I can pretty much guarantee it will spread. Your jaw is close, not just to your brain, but also your heart and lungs. Any one of those can become life-threatening quickly. That’s just one of the reasons a tooth infection is considered a dental emergency and why even during quarantine it is an allowed treatment.
To treat an infected tooth a dentist has to get in there and physically remove the infected pulp. This can be done in one of two ways. First, he can do a root canal treatment. Second, he can do a tooth extraction.
It is always better to save a tooth, if at all possible. If not, then you have to add the additional procedure and expense of replacing the tooth. If it turns out your tooth can’t be saved and it does have to be extracted, ask your dentist how experienced he is in dental implants. It is by far the best tooth replacement option available. However, it is an advanced procedure and requires a dentist to have significant post-doctoral training.
I know you’re worried about Coronavirus, but I can assure you that your dentist doesn’t want it any more than you do. He’ll take every available precaution for the protection of you, his staff, and himself.
This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.