Why does my dentist want me to have a cleaning before treating my emergency?

I went in to the office for a dental emergency and I came out with a $5000 treatment plan. All I wanted was the single tooth taken care of, but the dentist says I have to have some kind of special cleaning before he’ll even start. Is this normal? I just want to be out of pain. I want to get to everything at some point, but I can’t do it all now. What should I do?



Dear Robert,

Sorry to hear you’re in pain. It’s concerning that your dentist didn’t take care of your dental emergency first.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information to go on here. There are a number of things that could be treated immediately. If the tooth was cracked, broken or abscessed, he should have been able to start something for you. Even if it’s been a while since your last cleaning, it’s common practice for a dentist to remove debris on the tooth needing repair so he can get your treatment started and get you out of pain.

However, there are a number of periodontal issues as well that require a special or deep cleaning as part of the treatment. If advanced gum disease is part of the problem, the cleaning might be a good place to start.

Your best bet is to call the dental office back again and verify why they want you to have the cleaning first. If they’re providing “cookie-cutter” treatment, in which every patient is supposed to follow the same process, it’s a warning sign to find a new office. If the cleaning will somehow treat your dental emergency, they’ll be able to tell you why. Misunderstandings happen sometimes too, and it’s possible they just want you to follow up with a cleaning as soon as you’re out of pain. However, if you can’t get answers or the answers appear to be shady, get a second opinion. Any dentist who specializes in emergency treatment should have you out of pain swiftly and on your way to restored health.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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