Something about this Dentist Isn’t Measuring Up

I need some advice. Before starting I will readily confess that I am not the most regular patient. I have pretty bad dental anxiety. But, I went in because I was having pain in a tooth toward the back of my mouth. It had been hurting on and off for about a week and a half. I decided I should get it checked out before it blew up into something serious. I decided to try a new dentist because the last one seemed like a sadist. The new dentist did an x-ray and said there was decay in a tooth where I already had a filling. Here’s where things got scary. He told me there was only about 10 % of the tooth that was healthy and he’d need to extract it. Then he wants me to schedule an appointment for a dental implant to replace the tooth after that. I am terrified. Do you have any recommendations for someone like me who is terrified of the dentist?


Dear Carol,

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

I can definitely help you with the anxiety issue, but before we get into that there are some things that do not add up with what this dentist told you and what you described to me.

I’m having a hard time believing this tooth is actually as far gone as he’s indicated. First, you would have been in quite a bit of pain and for more than just a couple of weeks. In fact, I think you would have been in agony. Second, a tooth with only a 10% viable structure, would not need an x-ray to see that. Finally, by the same token, the filling you had would have fallen out by that point.

Before you go any further, I would like you to get a second opinion from another dentist. If finances are an issue, do an internet search for a dentist who offers free second opinions. They are out there.

If it does turn out this tooth is infected, then the first line of defense would be a root canal treatment in the hopes of saving the tooth. Only if the tooth couldn’t be saved would you need an extraction. The one thing I do agree with your dentist about is the tooth replacement option he offered. Dental implants are the best replacement for a missing tooth.

Dental Anxiety

When you have dental anxiety it makes it hard to get the treatment you need. Don’t be too hard on yourself about this. You are certainly not the only patient to struggle with fear of the dentist. In all likelihood, it stemmed from a traumatic experience with a dentist, usually in childhood.

There are dentists who are compassionate toward patients in your situation. Most often, you’ll find them by searching for the term “sedation dentist“.

If you’re having a procedure that frightens you, such as a root canal or tooth extraction, then I would suggest you get oral conscious sedation. This is a pill that will essentially allow you to sleep through your appointment.

If, on the other hand, it is just a normal checkup and cleaning, and you’re still nervous about it, then nitrous oxide would help you relax in the dental chair.

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