How Do I Know If a Tooth Can’t be Saved?

I had a toothache and went to see a dentist. He told me the tooth can’t be saved and I should just have it extracted. How do I know if that is the truth? I know you are probably thinking why would the dentist lie. Here’s the deal. He was very rude and insulted me a couple of times because he said he could tell I was an addict. So maybe the tooth needs to be out and maybe he just doesn’t think I’m worth treating. How do I found out which?

Name Withheld

Dear Anonymous,

woman grabbing her jaw in pain in need of an emergency dentist

First, I will say I am sorry for everything you experienced with the dentist you went to see. Most dentists want people to be comfortable getting the dental care they need. Lecturing and acting like they don’t care about you is the last thing you need. I can understand your doubts.

I’m going to suggest, based on what you have said, that you get a second opinion. There are even dentists who will give you a free second opinion. It’s not just the way you said he treated you. I may be reading into this, but it sounds like you said you went to the dentist as soon as your tooth started hurting. If that is the case, your tooth would not be so far gone it couldn’t be saved. I am not convinced you need the tooth extraction.

However, pain usually means a dental infection which is considered a dental emergency. You need to see a dentist soon. Infections spread. Consider how close your jaw is to your brain, heart, and lungs. This can turn life-threatening quickly. There are dentists who will see you the same day if you have a dental emergency. Do a Google search to see if you can find one or just call some nearby dentists and explain your situation.

If no one can see you quickly, one of them will be willing to prescribe you an antibiotic. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking this will be enough for your tooth infection, though. Unlike normal infections, dental infections will never be solved with antibiotics alone. They actually require a dentist to get in and physically remove the infected tissue. This is done by a root canal treatment.

You will find most dentists want to save as many teeth as possible. They wouldn’t likely suggest an extraction unless it was truly necessary. Hopefully, your dentist was an anomaly so your tooth can be saved.

This blog is brought to you by Baton Rouge Dentist Dr. Steven Collins.