Why Wasn’t I Warned I Might Need Emergency Dental Treatment?

yellow black warning for dental emergency

Back in early March, I visited my dentist because I was having pain in one of my molars, mostly when I’d bite down on something while eating. He diagnosed the tooth as being cracked and said the only fix for it was to have a crown done. To his credit, he does CEREC crowns, which was probably the bright spot in all this. I had the tooth taken care of and left with the finished crown that day. It was all one visit. He warned me that a tooth on the other side looked like it had trouble brewing too and told me to come back and have that one fixed as soon as I could.

Well, fast-forward a couple weeks and the tooth they’d just put the crown on was still giving me trouble. It still hurt when I bit down and didn’t feel right. I phoned the office and I guess they had already shut down because of COVID. They told me to give it more time and it would settle down. When it still hadn’t settled down by the start of May, I called again and they agreed to see me, but then later canceled the appointment saying they were only seeing dental emergencies again because of the pandemic. Yes, I’ve been living with a toothache that long.

Then, they called me at the start of June and said they could get me in again, but that there was a waiting list. So, I waited a couple more weeks and went in. For whatever reason, the appointment was scheduled to do the second crown, not fix the first one. After some debate, I got the dentist to take a look at the crown again and he made some adjustments, but whatever he did, it wasn’t enough. Last week, my face swelled up and I noticed a blister on my gums by that trouble tooth. I went in again and he put me on antibiotics, but now I’m having it pulled. After all this and the expense of getting the crown on it, I can’t fathom dumping more money into the tooth. I told him he should refund the money I spent on the crown or not charge me for the extraction, but his argument now is that there was always a possibility it would need a root canal. If that’s true, why didn’t he tell me I’d run into an issue like this before we started any work? I feel like I’m being scammed but I don’t know how to approach it with him to get him to set things right. Any help would be appreciated.


Dear Vince,

Sounds like you’ve got a whole lot of stuff going on. Let’s dig into it a bit.

Cracked Teeth Often Need Root Canals

Unfortunately, cracks often reach the pulp of the tooth, which means they provide a pathway for bacteria to enter. When that happens, people wind up with raging infections like the one you had. Even when they don’t reach all the way to the pulp, they can still cause sensitivity and pain. Particularly when microcracks are involved, the issues can linger even after a tooth is crowned unless a root canal is performed. Many dentists will preemptively perform the root canal expecting trouble, while others will take a wait-and-see approach. In these cases, they normally will caution the patient that additional treatment could be necessary down the road. Yours arguably should have given you that word of warning, but it’s possible he felt confident it would be fine or perhaps he did warn you but the delivery wasn’t great. The real issue is how slow they were to address the ongoing problems with the tooth, and although it left you uncomfortable for way too long, it may not have influenced the overall outcome.

You Should Consider Getting a Root Canal

You said that you’re going to have the tooth extracted now and it sounds like that’s more out of frustration. Bear in mind, if you’re worried about the expense, there will be costs associated with replacing the tooth, be it denture, bridge, or dental implant. Those will be more than the root canal. And, all things considered, you’ll recover quicker from the root canal too. It’s understandable if you’ve lost confidence in this dentist for his apparent lack of concern and want to see someone else, but unless there’s more going on here, the root canal is your best bet.

This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin, an Elgin dentist offering same-day emergency appointments.

Connect with Us

We look forward to meeting you.
Call (847) 742-1330 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.