How long do I have to put off a root canal before it’s an emergency?

I was told I need a root canal, but I am not in any pain. So how long can I put this kind of thing off? I didn’t get the impression it was a dental emergency.

-Paul in Kansas


If you have been told you require a root canal treatment, it is risky to put off treatment. You mention you aren’t currently in pain, but if you were recently in pain and it has gone away, or even if it just hurts a little bit, the tooth is still infected. The longer you put it off, the worse it will get and potentially turn into a dental emergency.

Is there an abscess or pimple on your gum near the root of the tooth? This is another way to know that there is an active infection. Unfortunately, the infected tooth will not get better on its own.

If you truly are not in pain and haven’t had any yet, then you may be able to wait for a short period of time. If you put the root canal off inevitably, the infection may spread to other areas of the body. It will also compromise the root to a point where the tooth cannot be saved. If tooth decay is the reason the root canal was recommended, it will keep eating away at the tooth as well.

You can always seek a second opinion if this is a trust issue with your current dentist. But bottom line, if you have a tooth infection, the tooth needs to be treated to save the tooth.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Scared about a tooth extraction. Do I need an oral surgeon?

I admit that I have been putting off this dental work, mainly because I’m a coward. Several years ago, one of my fillings came out and the tooth eventually broke. I didn’t go in to have it looked at because I get so worked up about going to the dentist, it’s easier to deal with the tooth problem. Well, when I couldn’t take the pain, I finally went in. That dentist did a root canal. It took everything in me to even go in for the appointment, so when the dentist never followed up with me, I never went back to get it capped. Well, fast forward to today, the temporary filling fell out and I am in pain again. The tooth is more than half gone now and it is infected.

When I saw this new dentist, he told me that because of the infection, the tooth needs to be extracted. He said it is a big job that requires cutting bone and soft tissue and presented two choices – to see an oral surgeon with general anesthesia or to have him to it using a local. When I looked at the cost, I couldn’t justify the oral surgeon, but now I’m working myself up once again. Is this dentist qualified to to this type of work in his office?

-Jen in New Jersey


When a dentist presents choices like this it tends to leave patients feeling unsure and left in the dark. Safety shouldn’t be a concern, but when it is presented in this manner, it is understandable that you are unsure. You need to ask more questions of this dentist.

It may end up being that this dentist isn’t comfortable with his ability and would prefer to send you to an oral surgeon. Since you also tend to be anxious, this combination may not be the best option for you.

It could be that your dentist is just presenting you some options in a transparent way in an attempt to be open and honest. But it very well could be that he’s not comfortable doing it himself. Try to find out more about his sedation dentistry options available? Ask if he uses nitrous oxide gas or oral sedation? Either of these would help keep you calm, more likely the oral sedation would be preferred if you are especially anxious. That said, if he’s not experienced, it would be wise to see the oral surgeon. Then, it’s done right, once and for all. Other questions would be about the roots. If they are straight or if they have bends or twists in them? If they are more complex, again your case may be ideal for the oral surgeon.

Millions of people put off routine dental care and it leaves them with limited, very expensive options. Sedation dentistry is available for the kinds of appointments that you should have done years ago. So hopefully by you sharing your story, you are helping others. For example, if the filling was replaced right away years ago, then you probably wouldn’t have needed the root canal. Then, if you had the root canal completed, a crown would have been placed so you wouldn’t be looking at a tooth extraction. Something for you to think about moving forward.

Hopefully in asking some more pointed questions, you can get a feel for the comfort level of your dentist and be able to make the right decision for you. Good luck to you!

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Looking for affordable dental care.


I need some dental work done but I don’t have dental insurance and I’m not on my mom’s insurance plan anymore. Do you know where I can find affordable dental care? I was wondering if a dental school would give you discounted services?

– Ben in Idaho


Most dental schools will provide more affordable dental care to interested individuals. You have to understand that the reason for the discounted care is that it will be students that are doing the work. This also means that they will likely be slow and then the instructors will have to double-check the technique that was used and the quality of the work. You can expect to pay about half of what you would normally pay at a general dentist’s office.

Many patients simply cannot get past how slow the appointment is. For example, if you needed a few fillings done, most dental offices would have you in and out in 45  minutes to an hour. At a dental school, you would very likely only be able to get one done at a time and having one filling done would end up taking closer to an hour and a half.

Keep in mind that the dental work you have done may not be top notch either. Since it will be checked it will be adequate, just not what you may be used to.

Hopefully that gives you some answers. This type of discounted dental care works well for certain patients.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.


Is it possible to get my dental bridge repaired?

My dental bridge is an Encore. It is only a few years old and one of the teeth has already fallen off. Is it possible to get the false tooth re-attached? The other two teeth and gum are still in tact. It is serving as a front tooth replacement. Any help is appreciated.

-Becky in Louisiana


Not every dentist has experience placing an Encore dental bridge. So it may be difficult to locate a dentist that can successfully repair it. It’s as simple as redoing the dental bonding because the old bonding material will need to be removed and cleaned. The false tooth will need to have composite placed back on it. This step will require advanced knowledge with bonding materials, as well as with that particular type of dental bridge.

It isn’t an impossible task, but you need to make sure you seek out the right cosmetic or implant dentist that can properly clean, prepare (etch), and reapply the false tooth with the correct chemicals and bonding materials. Not just any dentist will be able to do this kind of repair.

You need to be aware that this is a temporary fix at best. The original framework and structure of the dental bridge has been compromised.

Have you considered a dental implant to replace your missing tooth? Dental implants look, feel, and function just like your natural tooth did. It is a permanent solution. Again, implant dentistry isn’t something that every dentist can do well. It takes extensive training and experience so be sure to do your research if you are considering this alternative.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.


Duped By Affordable Dental Implants in Mexico Scheme – Now What???

I’m at a total loss. I needed four affordable dental implants and I was quoted at over $40,000 here in the states. I knew I wanted to have them done anyway. All of my friends rave about how great theirs are and I’m too young to be wearing a partial denture. I figured a dentist is a dentist- they all go to through the same schooling, right? Wrong.

I did my research, and I chose a guy with great reviews. I spent a weekend in Mexico just to meet him, and then I went back three more times for treatment. Surgery was a nightmare. I was in the chair for hours and he didn’t even offer me any medication or nitrous. Sure, I was numb, for most of it, but it was a horrible ordeal. Then, I went back two more times, and he said it was too soon to put the permanent teeth on. Finally, after a year of waiting, and more than $10,000 spent, he finally gives me the permanent teeth. I knew right away that they didn’t look or feel right, but he told me to try them and see. I go back home and my whole jaw starts hurting. Nothing will take the pain away. I have called several times, but they don’t return my calls. It’s not like I can just drive down there and talk to them. What am I supposed to do now?


Dear Duped,

Sounds like you’ve had quite the ordeal trying to get affordable dental implants. Pain is a huge concern, and it could indicate that you’re fighting an infection or that there’s something seriously wrong with the work that was done. It’s important that you seek treatment right away, even if that means seeing an emergency dentist here in the US.

Unfortunately, the Mexican system is founded on arbitration, rather than litigation. This means that it’s ultimately up to the dentist whether he corrects his work or not. If he refuses to help, you can navigate their system, but it’s difficult to make any headway.

Although it’s unclear how long you’ve been trying to contact the office, it’s obvious that you need treatment right away. The only real option you have, for the sake of your health, is to see a local doctor. There’s a very real chance you’ll have to start over with the dental implant process here, and cut your losses with the doctor who performed your work in Mexico.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Do People Get Paid to Write Clear Choice Reviews?

I need to have a couple of dental implants done, and I’ve had a couple of consultations with a general dentist and an implant specialist. I keep eyeing the Clear Choice reviews, because their ads look so great. But, when I read what others are saying online about them, they’re all either five-star or one-star ratings. There seems to be no middle ground with the company. At first I assumed that the people who were rating the company poorly had high standards, or they didn’t have a firm understanding of dentistry. The more I look at it though, I have to wonder if the company is seeding their ratings with paid ones. There was a huge ordeal with other companies doing the same on Amazon recently, and the behavior of the positive reviewers seems to be fitting of someone who was compensated. I’d hate to pass up on receiving top-tier treatment if they’re legit, but if they aren’t… Has there been anything mentioned about whether Clear Choice reviews are legit?


Trevor in Illinois

Dear Trevor,

Yes, Amazon was recently caught up in a fake ratings scandal, though it wasn’t actually Amazon, the company. A third-party company, hired by independent sellers on the website,has been sued for fraudulent activity. At this time, however, there have not been any fraudulent Clear Choice reviews brought to light, so one would hope that the company has not stooped to that level.

With that said, the company has a reputation for providing one-size-fits-all dentistry. When it works, it’s fantastic. When it doesn’t, patients feel duped, misled, and they often wish they’d never heard of the place. A quick look at the current comments on sites like Yelp indicate that pushy sales tactics and difficulty obtaining refunds is also a large problem. In other words, it’s impossible to guarantee what your outcome will be if you choose to have your work done by one of their doctors, and it sounds like you’ll have a difficult time getting them to correct any issues if you’re unhappy.

If you feel good about one of the dental implant doctors you have already seen, it’s best to stick with someone you know and trust. If you’re still unsure about who you want to perform your work, by all means have a consultation, but leave your wallet at home and hold off on signing anything at the first visit.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Can my teen get dental implants?

I have some questions about my son’s oral health. He is self-conscious as he is getting into his teenage years because some of his adult teeth failed to come in. This means he has some baby teeth at the age of 14. Even though our regular dentist says everything is fine, I was wondering if an implant dentist feels differently? Our dentist feels that since they are functioning fine, we shouldn’t worry about it. Would it be possible to replace these baby teeth with dental implants?

-Heather in Idaho


It is not unheard of for an adult to have permanent teeth that are congenitally missing. The baby teeth may actually last his entire life if they are well taken care of. So from a functional standpoint, your dentist is correct.

Although, it is understandable that your son is starting to be embarrassed about the way his smile looks. Even so,  dental implants may not necessarily be the best option for him. Not only is his jaw still growing, it may not be the best in the long run to remove healthy teeth. It will likely come down to the implant dentist’s personal opinion as to whether or not he is a dental implant candidate now or in the future.

Have you considered meeting with a cosmetic dentist? Porcelain veneers  may help improve the size and appearance of his teeth. They can give make them look just like adult teeth. An excellent cosmetic dentist may offer some additional treatment options, as well. So be sure to find a reputable cosmetic dentist in your area before you go the dental implant route.

Thank you for your question.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

I’m losing sleep for a sedation dentistry appointment. How ironic!

I have a sedation dentistry appointment tomorrow and I am freaking out. It is literally the middle of the night and I cannot sleep. Will that be okay? I’m just thinking of all the worst case scenarios that could happen when I get my teeth extracted. Also, freaked to be put under. Please help ease my fears.

-Becky in Indiana


It is kind of ironic that you are losing sleep over your sleep dentistry appointment. In all seriousness, you will be fine. You mention that you will be put under and that may be part of the reason for your anxiety. The sedation dentist should have explained to you that oral sedation is also called conscious sedation. Why is this important? Well, you will not be “knocked out” or “put under” as you mention. It is much different than general anesthesia that is given in the hospital. This means that your protective reflexes like coughing and breathing are done all on your own. The medication will not interfere with it. So there is no breathing tube or anything like that.

The dentist will also have a trained staff member accompanying them during the procedure. Their job will be to ensure that your vitals are normal and to add an extra measure of safety until you wake up.

Now sedation is often referred to as sleep dentistry. But you will not go to sleep either. You will feel like you went to sleep because you really won’t remember anything. You will be indifferent to what is going on and pretty much won’t care. Try to catch some ZZZ’s tonight. All will be fine in the morning.

Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.