Did the emergency dentist blow off a possible infection in my tooth?

I’m completely put off by the emergency dentist I just saw. I’m partially to blame for the situation I’m in because I’ve blown off getting a filling for about a year on one particular tooth. When I called, I told them about that tooth, but also explained to them that I thought the tooth next to that one also needed a filling. I was assuming they would schedule enough time for the dentist to take care of both. It was one of the last appointments of the day, and when I finally got in the chair, he basically took a few minutes to look in my mouth and proceeded to tell me I needed a filling – but only on the tooth next to the one I already had a cavity in. I questioned him on it and he changed his tune and said I did need two fillings, and that I’d have to come back to have them done. Seriously? I am in pain and now I have to wait even longer! What’s the point of seeing an emergency dentist? It feels like this guy just wanted to get out of there so he hurried me along. He looked at my teeth so fast that now I am wondering if he missed an infection or something more serious. — Jackie

Jackie,
Here’s the thing about cavities… they can be very painful depending on how deep they are in the tooth. It doesn’t always mean there is an infection or a need for a root canal (which is usually pretty obvious had you had a full-blown exam and x-rays).

Dentists perform “tests” to try and figure out what tooth/teeth are bothering you so they can offer the best diagnosis and treatment plan. Teeth often refer pain to neighboring ones and even a cracked tooth can cause a lot of pain. Sometimes things can be missed even if there are x-rays.

It is strange that your dentist missed the second cavity until you called him out on it. It’s understandable that you felt hurried along or maybe even misdiagnosed. Get the fillings done as soon as you can – and maybe find another dentist to do it. Dentists don’t always schedule time for the actual work to be done – especially if they haven’t done a thorough exam. It’s simply too difficult to know the exact course of treatment or how long it will take. If you try a different dentist, be sure to let them know your diagnosis and recommended treatment from the emergency dentist at the time you make the appointment. This should help the office in determining if the dentist can set aside the extra time to do the fillings in addition to the initial exam.

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.