It has been a couple years since I’ve been in for my regular dental cleaning and exam. While I was there, the dentist informed me that I have a molar underneath a crown that is broken. When he took a closer look, he didn’t feel that he would be able to get out all the decay if he did a root canal treatment. So, he recommended that I get the tooth pulled. After a few months, I am supposed to go back and get a dental bridge.
I decided to go to the endodontist anyway to see if he would be able to complete the root canal because I really want to save the tooth if there is a chance it could be saved. When I talked with my dental insurance, they told me that a crown wouldn’t be covered for a year. I am starting to wonder if the insurance will cover any part of a dental implant, but it’s worth asking. I don’t want a bridge. So, I’m trying to figure out how long I can wait if I have the tooth extracted right away. Will I start to have problems if I put it off for awhile and save up for the next treatment? If I have to wait a year to do anything for insurance, then I might as well get the dental implant if it’s covered.
I’m in my 50s so I want to get a treatment that will serve me well for years to come. I realize I should have had a root canal years ago. The dentist put a crown on and didn’t want to drill through it to do a root canal. The pain stopped eventually so I didn’t worry about it. But, apparently I should have because now it is dead I guess.
Thank you in advance for your time.
-Patricia in North Carolina
Dentists have varying philosophies when it comes to saving teeth. Some tend to be a bit eager to pull one. But, it is always better to save a tooth if at all possible. It seems odd that the dentist doesn’t feel confident that he can get all of the decay taken care of under the crown. It may be in your best interest to get a second opinion. It will be telling what the endodontist says.
As for a more permanent solution, a dental implant is a far superior solution to replace a missing tooth. That said, you don’t want to wait longer than a couple weeks to move forward with the dental implant process. The reason is that even though you are only in your 50s, the teeth can begin to shift around. A dental implant will stimulate the bone in the area of the missing tooth and prevent any bone loss at the site.
It is worth asking why the dentist is wanting to pull the tooth so quickly if it is not causing you any pain.
Also, a dental implant takes time to heal before it is able to complete the process with a dental crown. A temporary fixture can be placed in order to fill the empty space.
Also, you need to be prepared that a dental implant may not be covered by your dental insurance. It is possible you may get a discount, depending on what kind of coverage you have. So you may need to cover that expense out of pocket. So be prepared for that.
Generally speaking, you want to work with a dentist who prioritizes saving teeth. It may require greater skill and also may indicate a higher level of empathy and integrity by the dentist. However, there are cases where a tooth truly cannot be saved. It really would be in your best interest to get another opinion by a reputable implant dentist to see what your options are.
Lastly, it is confusing that you mentioned that you should have had a root canal treatment done years ago. If what you have explained is accurate about the the dentist not wanting to drill through the crown, then that dentist may not have done the right thing. Whenever you have decay or an infected tooth, that is when you need to take action to save the tooth. Drilling through a crown may not be ideal, but it is not a reason to leave the tooth alone. The infection or decay wasn’t going to improve once it started. It is not uncommon to drill through a crown.
I hope I’m not leaving you with more questions than answers. But hopefully this gives you a more in depth explanation as to what is going on. Getting another opinion is the best course of action at this point.
This post is sponsored by York PA dentist Donald H. Currie, DMD.