Please help me. One of my back teeth has been hurting for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t see anything wrong with it, but my mother suggested I see a dentist. I’m away at college and am completely across the country from my parents. When I saw this dentist, he took some x-rays and said there is a cavity under a current filling. He said it is so massive he doesn’t think he’ll be able to save the tooth, though he’ll try. If he can’t, he’ll want to do a dental implant. I am absolutely terrified of every procedure he’s suggesting. When I told him I’d like to get a second opinion he got a little curt with me and said that it is an emergency and I shouldn’t wait too long. What do I do?
Please bear in mind I haven’t examined you and am just going off of what you mentioned. There are three things which make me skeptical of this:
1. If this has only been hurting for as long as you mentioned, it is a fairly new infection. What he is describing would have been hurting you for months.
2. Decay as extensive as he’s hinting to you would be very obvious. In fact, the filling likely would have already fallen out. At the very least it would have been so obvious he wouldn’t have needed an x-ray.
3. He’s pressuring you to make a decision hinting it’s a dental emergency. This is a scare tactic and I don’t like it. I’m going to suggest you get a second opinion.
Tips for Getting an Accurate Second Opinion
First, you have the right to the x-rays the dentist took. This will save you on diagnostic costs. While you are giving the second dentist a copy of the x-rays, please don’t tell him the name of the dentist you saw. Don’t give him the diagnosis either. There are two very good reasons for this.
First, you don’t want the previous diagnosis to sway the dentist. You want his fresh opinion. Second, if he is friends with this dentist, he may not want to contradict his peer.
Dealing with Dental Anxiety
Given your dental anxiety, if you do need some dental work that petrifies you, I have a solution. I’d like you to see a dentist who uses dental sedation. This can be something as light as nitrous oxide for patients with mild anxiety. If you have severe anxiety or a difficult procedure, you might feel more comfortable with oral conscious sedation.
Oral conscious sedation is very strong, though. You will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment as well as stay with you throughout the remainder of the day until you are lucid and steady on your feet again. Start thinking about who you trust enough to do that for you.
Best of luck to you. It’s hard when you are new to adulthood. Some less ethical people will take advantage of that.
This blog is brought to you by West Seneca Dentist Dr. Warren Krutchick.