No one is perfect. So, does that mean a dentist can be wrong? Let me back up. It was over a month ago that I had a terrible toothache. The tooth needed a root canal treatment. The pain in the tooth did improve, but it never really went away. This past week, I have been in terrible pain once again. I couldn’t tell if it was the same molar or the tooth adjacent to it. So when I went into the dentist, he did x-rays to see which tooth was giving me pain. The x-rays didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary and he told me I’d be fine. I don’t feel fine. He then proceeded to tell me to schedule a consultation with a neurologist. Question – if I’m, “fine,” why on earth do I need a consultation with a neurologist? What is going on?
-Becca in Texas
This is a tough one to respond to having not seen your case in person. As strange as it may sound, especially after your recent troubles with one of your molars, it is possible for a tooth to be fine even if it is hurting.
One possibility is called referred pain. For example, sometimes patients will come in complaining of a severe toothache on one of their upper teeth. After an examination, the tooth that requires treatment actually has turned out to be located on the bottom. Other times, the pain may be coming from an adjacent tooth. When a tooth is infected in the same quadrant, the pain sometimes isn’t pinpointed.
Neuralgia is another nerve issue that feels like a toothache. But the pain is caused by the nerves and technically the tooth is fine. That would be when you visit a neurologist.
Still another possibility for tooth pain is caused by a sinus infection. When the sinus cavities are infected they can affect the roots of the teeth since they are located in such close proximity to them. Other health problems may cause toothaches, as well.
So to answer your question, your dentist may be correct that you do not need another root canal treatment. You did the right thing by going back into the office and having an examination. And he did the right thing by performing an x-ray. So this isn’t necessarily an issue of who is wrong. It is more ruling out the possibilities that may be causing it.
If you are convinced it is indeed a tooth, than it may be in your best interest to schedule a second opinion with an endodontist. These doctors specialize in root canal treatments and would be able to confirm your dentist’s findings or possibly make a different diagnosis. If you decide to get a second opinion, don’t tell the endodontist that you have already been in to see someone else. Don’t give them any preconceived notions. Just let them diagnose and make recommendations based on what they are see in their examination. You do need to inform the new doctor that you had a recent root canal and now you are experiencing pain again. If they ask you more about who you saw, etc. simply state that you would like a blind second opinion. If the new dentist knows your old dentist or contacts him to get more details, they could be trying to protect one another. So, having an independent examination is very important.
Good luck! Hopefully your pain is taken care of as soon as possible.
This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.