I had a little dental bonding done about a year ago and have had trouble with it ever since. This was done during a brief break I had to take from my regular dentist, as he stopped taking my insurance and I had to go elsewhere for a couple of visits. Anyway, I went in for my regular checkup and the new dentist said he’d found a cavity and he offered to do it on the spot. We went ahead and did the dental bonding then and there. Over the next few days, the tooth started hurting more and more. I went in and had it adjusted three times over the next couple of weeks, but it never felt any better, so I just let it be.
When I got word that my dentist was accepting my insurance again, I went back in and had him take a look at it. He managed to get the pain to stop, but then I started catching food between my tooth and gums instead. He suggested we redo the filling, so I agreed. However, when the numbness wore off, my tooth really hurt. He told me he thought it would go away and to take ibuprofen, which I did, but it got worse and started reacting to hot and cold. After a week of pain, I went back again and he prescribed steroids to help with the inflammation and said if that didn’t help, I was probably looking at an extraction. Here we are today. I’ve been on the steroids for a week now and it still hurts. I don’t want to have to have an extraction because of this. What am I supposed to do?
Nate in New Hampshire
It doesn’t sound like either of these dentists have done right by you. The first dentist should have been able to adjust the dental bonding enough that it wasn’t causing pain. There’s no reason why a person should have to go back several times for adjustments. The second dentist should have been able to correct it without creating a new defect as well. It’s also concerning that something went wrong with the composite filling. Sometimes teeth react to an initial filling, but replacing it shouldn’t have caused an issue. It’s also worth noting that steroids was not the right option here. The symptoms your tooth had are often associated with low-grade infections. Steroids kill your immune system, making it impossible to fight off infections on your own.
The odds of winding up with two different doctors making mistakes are very slim, which suggests something more is going on, and the fact that you’re only seeing in-network dentists is very telling. To be blunt, dentists with a high degree of skill and those who focus on quality of care are generally choosy about the insurance plans they take because some insurance plans don’t pay well. If you’re on a cheap plan or one that really restricts who you can see, it’s probably the kind that attracts unskilled/ cost-cutting dentists, and that’s not a good thing.
Just this once, try going outside your network. Get a referral from a friend or family member, and pay cash or finance it if you must, to have a consult with a dentist who has a good reputation. There’s a fair chance you’ll get relief without having an extraction. Although, the tooth may require a root canal treatment.
This post is sponsored by York PA dentist Donald H. Currie, DMD