I think I have a dental emergency. One of my teeth is throbbing with pain. I think I need a root canal, however, I cannot afford one. Should I wait to see a dentist when I can, or go see an emergency dentist immediately? It is really painful, I’m not sure how much longer I can deal with the swelling.
Mallick, from Trenton, New Jersey
If it is swelling that much, you need immediate assistance. If you cannot go see your dentist, you will need to see someone who can do your root canal. If you cannot afford this, you will need to go see an emergency dentist.
If you do not see an emergency dentist for the infection, you run the risk of the infection spreading. An oral infection can spread to the heart or brain, and once it does, it can cause severe consequences and even death.
Also, do not take antibiotics without a treatment plan. The overuse of antibiotics can cause side effects, such as leading to treatment-resistant infections. Once the infection can no longer be treated with antibiotics, it will become more dangerous and more difficult to eradicate.
I don’t know what is going on with my son’s teeth. His top two teeth are turning dark. The rest of them are okay. Can a pediatric dentist whiten them?
If just his front teeth are turning dark and not the others, it’s not a staining issue. Is it possible your son has suffered some trauma to those teeth recently? Could he have been hit in the mouth with something?
When a tooth is turning dark it means the tooth is either dead or dying. He’ll need a root canal treatment. You didn’t mention how old he is so depending on his age a pulpotomy might be more appropriate. It’s like a root canal for children.
You’ll need to see your pediatric dentist and have his tooth evaluated. It’s important to figure out if there’s any other damage. If he still has adult teeth underneath you’ll need to make sure they aren’t damaged as well.
Teeth Whitening and Pediatrics
Professional teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure that has been stained. It doesn’t work on dead teeth. It also won’t work on any dental work that’s been done, such as fillings or crowns.
Most children don’t need any whitening because regular brushing keeps their teeth white. It’s us old folks who’ve accumulated years of stains on their teeth from things like coffee or tea, cigarettes, staining foods, etc.
There are some medicines which can stain teeth. Tetracycline is the worst of these. In those cases, then some cosmetic work may be warranted.
I’m assuming you’re son is under the regular care of a pediatric or family dentist. Please don’t put off getting this looked at. The last thing you want is for this to turn into a dental emergency. Not only are they dangerous and can turn life-threatening, but it’s important children have positive dental experiences. We want pleasant instead of painful memories of their dental care.
This blog is brought to you by Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.
I hadn’t been to a dentist in years for financial reasons. I started to get worried about my oral health, not because of any specific issues, but it’s just been in the back of my mind. I did an internet search for affordable dentists and found two in my immediate area. I’ve been to both of them. They were both awful. The first one was just plain smelly. I don’t know why. It’s like he just didn’t care about bathing. I could barely stand to stay in the chair because of them smell. I know he said I needed some work. I expected that. But, I can’t remember anything he said because I just wanted out of there. I don’t think I could go back to him if it was free. The next one at least cared about personal hygiene. He was a bit rough in how he handles patients. He told me I have a tooth that could go any minute. I could try to save it with a root canal and crown or I can just extract and replace it. I tried to ask him some questions but he said he doesn’t have time to answer patients. I can call the office and leave a message and one of the hygienists will get back with me. On the way out I told the desk lady I didn’t understand why he doesn’t answer patient questions. She said if I want low prices he needs to keep people moving so he can make up profit losses. Is it possible to get quality service by a dentist who cares AND affordable prices? Please don’t make me go back to Mr. Stinky.
It’s great that you’re working so hard to find a dentist which you can afford. It’s a shame your choices have been so limited. It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find one, though you may have to go outside of your immediate area if those were the two closest choices.
Reasons Dentists Choose to Have Affordable Prices
There are several reasons dentists may choose to have prices that are lower than the average around them. Some of those motives are better than others, as you’ve unfortunately experienced.
To Draw in Patients
This isn’t a bad motive (in some cases). It mostly depends on why they need to draw in patients. Sometimes it is simply a matter of being a brand new practice. They haven’t had time to develop a patient base. We’ve all had to start somewhere. However, other times a dentist isn’t that great. They need to draw in patients because they have horrible patient retention. The only way to keep their income going is to lower their prices and draw in new victims.
Other dentists simply know that every human being is working at a different budgetary level. They don’t want the working poor to be without dental care simply because their current job salary or life circumstances make affording those types of things feel like a luxury. Many of them have been in difficult circumstances before and still remember what it felt like.
Their quality doesn’t suffer from their compassion. Often you won’t find them the absolute cheapest, though. Why is that? Because they also think patients deserve quality care. They refuse to sacrifice their patients at the altar of cheap parts to make up profits. That leads me to an important warning.
A Cheap Dentist isn’t an Affordable Dentist
When a dentist uses having the lowest prices to draw patients in, sometimes they try to make up the profits by purchasing low quality (cheap) materials. One place we’ve seen this often is with dental implants.
In the United States, an implant fixture can cost several hundred dollars. That’s because we have high medical standards and regulations designed to keep the safety of patients in mind at all times. But, if a dentist wants to come in significantly lower in price than his nearby peers he has a couple of choices: make less money or make up the profits somewhere. Too many of them choose to make up the profits elsewhere. The dentists can simply purchase is implant part from out of the country for just a few bucks, saving him hundreds on just one phase of the procedure. Unfortunately, those cheap parts have led to many infections causing not just a dental emergency, but complete implant failure. I’ve even seen some patients come for help because their implant simply snapped in half.
Now, that patient has to start over again, missing more work. Plus, in addition to having to get their dental implants done again from scratch, they have to add bone grafting to the mix because dental implant failure removes too much bone structure. Instead of saving money, they end up paying more than double.
How do You Know if You’re Getting a Good Affordable Dentist?
There’s no foolproof way to ensure yourself against a dud, but there is one simple step you can take— check their reviews. People post reviews of their experiences when they’ve either been very good or very bad. Either way, you’ll have some idea of what others experienced at the dentist’s hands.
I’m trying not to panic. Normally, I ignore my sister’s criticism because she tends to be really condescending to me. However, I don’t want to let my pride harm my child. She said that bottle feeding is damaging to my baby’s teeth and I need to get him to the dentist even while he’s an infant. She said breastfeeding children don’t need a dentist until they’re using baby or table food. Is she right?
Welcome to the lifelong struggle of worrying you’re ruining your child. It will never end. Even when you’re doing everything right, you’ll be sure you’re wrong. And sometimes, you want to do the perfect thing, but can’t. That’s okay too. A friend of mine wanted to breastfeed her baby desperately because she knew it was the better food option. But, she developed cancer. The medicine’s she had to take precluded her from breastfeeding. It broke her heart. She cried every time she had to put a bottle in his mouth. Then a friend reminded her that formula wasn’t poison and as long as she’s doing the best she can, that’s all that matters.
Pediatric Dental Benefits of Breastfeeding
Innoculation Against Cavities: Though we’re not sure why, there are more and more studies showing that children who are mostly breastfed have some form of inoculation against cavities. It could be the properties in the breastmilk or possibly the anti-cavity minerals the mother passes to the child from her own immune system.
The Mechanics: The way the breast is designed and causes the milk to shoot to the back of the baby’s mouth, kicks in their sucking reflex. Bottle feeding just drops the formula in the baby’s mouth and it often pools around their teeth.
All that being said, that doesn’t mean breastfed babies don’t need to see a dentist. Genetics is a large factor in how healthy your teeth stay. So parents with a high number of cavities are likely to have children prone to cavities. Also, moms who breastfeed their babies to sleep don’t realize that milk will pool because the baby stops sucking but milk still shoots out for a moment after he falls asleep. Pooled milk (or formula) causes cavities.
Preventing Pediatric Dental Problems
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed it’s important you go to a pediatric dentist. How you feed the baby has no effect on developmental abnormalities in tooth development. Baby’s teeth are developing while they’re still in the womb. If for some reason there is an abnormality, it’s much better to catch it early when something may be able to be done about it.
Also, the worst thing you can do is wait, assuming everything is fine, until there is a dental emergency. Then, your child’s first experience with the dentist will be a painful experience. That’s how they’ll view the dentist from now on.
It’s much better for them to get to know the dentist early, when everything is fine with their teeth. The dentist and staff will just show them the instruments, let them sit in the chair, examine their teeth, do a fun, gentle cleaning, and check that everything is normal and healthy. When that happens, they’ll love the dentist… or at least not fear him or her.
Also, don’t forget to brush, even when they just have a couple of teeth. Teach them good habits from the beginning so it becomes just that— a habit.
I recently got a snake bite piercing. Since then I’ve been drooling like nuts. Is this from the piercing? I’ve never drooled before.
Kevin B.- Pine Bluff, AR
It is very likely the drooling is a result of the snake bite piercing. Here’s why. Any type of oral piercing will stimulate your salivary glands. This can lead to excessive drooling. This is a common risk factor with oral piercings.
You may also want to look out for some of these other possible risk factors:
Tooth & Gum Irritations: Depending on the positioning of the piercing, it could wear down the enamel on your teeth. You will also need to be proactive with your oral hygiene because if it rubs against your gums it will not only cause irritation, but could lead to gum recession and periodontal disease.
Bacterial Infections: Though inflammation is normal after an oral piercing, it should go down within a few days. If it doesn’t, you need to be seen by a doctor. The ADA (American Dental Association) have documented an increased risk for bacterial infections in those with oral piercings. It is not just from transference during the procedure, but rather because our mouths are loaded with bacteria. When you introduce a new open area, you increase the opportunities for the bacteria to spread.
Allergic reaction: Many people are allergic to various types of metals. If you’re having any type of reaction such as itching, redness, burning, swelling, or rash, see your doctor immediately. Allergies are serious and need to be dealt with.
Speech impediments: If the piercing keeps you from closing your lips completely,that will lead to speech impediments.