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Affordable Dentist for a Full-Mouth Reconstruction?

I never got to go to the dentist as a child. I saved up for two years to go now that I’m in college, just to see what I’m dealing with. He said my mouth was in horrible shape and I needed something called a full mouth reconstruction. I knew there’d be some problems because I’d never been, but I was surprised with how dire my outlook was, especially since my teeth have never bothered me (except for how they look). The way he described the reconstruction sounded like I’d really benefit and my teeth would be pretty, but the price is way above anything I can afford. My roommate said I should ask about affordable dentists. She said that’s what her parents always used. They have less frills but you still get care. Can I get one of those for the reconstruction I need?

Mindy L.

Dear Mindy,

Dollar sgn hatching out of an egg

How admirable that you’ve made such an effort to see a dentist. I wish more older adults were as conscientious as you are. Before we get into a reconstruction I want to caution you. Something feels off about this to me.

While I’m sure there were some issues, if you’ve experienced no pain at all, I doubt you really even need a full mouth reconstruction. You should have been in massive pain. I’d love to hear more specifics of why he said you needed one. I don’t want to see you taken advantage of by someone disreputable.

I’d like you to get a second opinion from another dentist in the area. Some dentists will even give you a free second opinion.

Getting a Second Opinion for Affordable Dental Care

When you go in, don’t tell them who the first dentist was or what his diagnosis was. Just go in and tell him you’re looking for a second opinion on a diagnosis you received that seems questionable to you. Tell him you’ll be happy to tell them the dentist and diagnosis after they give their unbiased opinion.

If it turns out he misled you, please turn the dentist into the ethics board. Most dentists are honest and it’s the bad apples that make life harder for the rest of us.

However, if it turns out you do need a full-mouth reconstruction, that’s not something you price shop for. It is one of the most technically advanced procedures a dentist can do. You don’t want it to simply go to the lowest bidder. There are other ways of making this more affordable.

Instead, talk about ways of phasing out treatments. If planned correctly, it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Get the work done on a schedule of most urgent to least. Also, be clear you want to save as much natural tooth structure as possible.

Fillings before crowns. Crowns before extractions. If you need an extraction, dental implants are the ideal replacement but are pricey. However, it’s worth it to get a temporary cheaper one while you save up the good one, especially as young as you are.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Can an Emergency Dentist Help with an Excruciating Canker Sore?

I’ve had what I think is a canker sore for a week. It’s excruciating. I don’t know why I get these. I wasn’t able to eat last night. Can an emergency dentist help me?

Melinda B.

Dear Melinda,

A Man in pain and in need of an emergency dentist

Because you get them all the time, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see a doctor or dentist to find out why. Sometimes what we think are canker sores are actually a virus or cancer in disguise. That being said, I don’t think an emergency dental visit is necessary. Though I will add it concerns me that you can’t eat at the moment.

Have you tried any over-the-counter remedies? There are gels and pads you can put on them to try and numb them out. The pads are hard to keep on because of the moist nature of our mouths. You can also try some salt water rinses.

Canker Sores tend to run themselves out in about 10-14 days, so it looks like your almost there. If it goes much beyond that a dentist visit is in order.

If you get regular cleanings and check-ups from your dentist they should be screening you for oral cancers, so I wouldn’t be too concerned if they hadn’t mentioned anything.

Avoiding Dental Emergencies

If you’re someone who avoids the dentist, you could be inadvertently shooting yourself in the foot. Our mouths are loaded with bacteria so doing what we can to keep them clean and healthy with preventative care could help stave off some of these sores.

I do understand that many people have a phobia when it comes to going to the dentist. If this is you, don’t feel bad. Many Americans share your feelings. There is a way to have anxiety-free appointments these days.

Ask your dentist about sleep dentistry. It will enable you to get the oral health care you need, while resting comfortably in a chair. Most people use the time for a nap. Though I will warn you you’ll feel groggy throughout the day and will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

CEREC Crown Disaster

Everything I’ve read about CEREC crowns and their procedure leads me to think my dentist was way off on how she handled my particular case. What’s done is done, but I just need to make sure the sensitivity I’m feeling is normal and will go away after some healing or if I have a problem. When the dentist did my crown, she said my tooth was in too bad a shape to get a good image so she was just going to pull one from a CEREC database. I wasn’t too worried because the advertisements all talk about how perfectly these crowns fit. Well, it didn’t. It was too big all around. She spent well over an hour grinding down all the sides of it. Not only was that remarkably uncomfortable, but it doesn’t even look like a real tooth anymore. It looks more like a box. Plus, every time I eat or drink something cold it zings me. Will that end after a period of time or do I have a problem on my hands?

Dirk B.

Dear Dirk,

Gilbert CEREC Crowns
A CEREC Machine

You have a problem. You’re also right that this seems to be a disaster. CEREC crowns should be able to be placed in minutes. I have no idea what your dentist meant by your tooth was in too bad a shape to get a good image. It’s only teeth which are in bad shape that need a dental crown to begin with. I have no idea why she couldn’t get a clear image.

The only thing I can think of with an image database is when she input into the CEREC machine which tooth she was going to crown. It will give her a basic image to work from, then she’ll put images of the surrounding and opposing teeth so the computer can design a crown with a perfect fit. It sounds like your dentist had absolutely no idea what she was doing.

Get a New CEREC Crown

The sensitivity to cold concerns me. It sounds like your dentist left an open margin. That not only causes some pain when you drink something cold, but it also allows food and drinks to get trapped in there. You don’t want to leave any opening for decay. A mistake like this can cost you your tooth. Then, you won’t be trying to get a crown, but a complete tooth replacement.

You need to get a new CEREC crown made. But, you’ll want to go about this in a way that won’t cost you any more money. You’ll first need to get a second opinion from a dentist verifying everything I’ve said so you have ammunition. Do NOT tell the second opinion dentist the story you told me. Just tell them you want them to look at your crown. Also, do NOT tell them who your dentist is. You don’t want any friendship or misplaced sense of loyalty to cause them to waver in their true opinion. If they pressure you to know, tell them you’ll let them know AFTER they give their opinion. Tell them you just want their pure, untainted thoughts.

Once what I suspect is confirmed, don’t just ask for a refund. Your dentist should also pay for any expenses you incur to fix her botched job.

I hope this helps.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Why Can’t My Dentist Get Me Numb?

I need serious help. At this moment, I’m living off of extremely strong painkillers. My dentist had to send me home with them because he doesn’t know what to do. He tried on five different appointments to get me numb. But, after at least seven shots and some kind of paste on my gums he still couldn’t get me numb enough to do my root canal. What gives? I’m miserable and my dentist feels horrible. He’s even refunded my money.

Scott T.

Dear Scott,

Gilbert Sedation Dentist

What a difficult experience. I’m sure you’re in tons of pain, so I will make this quick. I know exactly what is going on here, because a colleague of mine (and a dentist himself) had the same problem whenever he went in for treatment.

Believe it or not, this dentist suffered from dental anxiety. Between you and me, I think it was frightening for him not to be in charge of the procedure.

What many dentists don’t realize is that dental anxiety and Novocain (along with other numbing medications) are not a good mix. The anxiety ups your metabolism which in turn burns off the numbing agent. The higher the anxiety, the faster it burns it out.

There’s a simple solution. You need dental sedation. You’ll simply take a pill before your appointment which will completely relax you. Be aware that it relaxes you so much, you’ll need someone to drive you to and from your appointment along with someone to stay with you until you’re steady on your feet again.

Whenever a patient with dental fear uses sedation, it enables the numbing medication to do its job. You’ll experience a stress-free, pain-free root canal treatment.

Best of luck to you. Dental emergencies are the worst.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Does Affordable Dentistry Mean Slow Results?

I’m curious if affordable dentists take longer to get results than other dentists. I’ve always had bad teeth. I kept thinking I’d be able to afford more dental care as I got older. But, I’m 40 now and still have horrible teeth. Realizing it’s now or never, I searched for an affordable dentist so I could get started. I’ve been going monthly for almost two years and still see no difference in my teeth. My teeth are stained and crooked. Every time I bring up braces he just says, “Let’s get those teeth and gums healthy first.” I’m discouraged. After two years, I figured I’d see a difference. Am I being ripped off? Would it go faster with a more costly dentist?

Nell M.

Dear Nell,

Affordable Dentist

There are a few things going on here. But, first, I will say that an affordable dentist should work equally as effectively as the highest priced dentists. The two things you’re concerned about, the color and crookedness of your teeth are cosmetic issues. Generally, you get the teeth healthy, then start on the cosmetics. However, you should already be noticing a brighter smile. Your teeth are being regularly cleaned, so they should be at least a tad whiter.

If you do the cosmetics too soon it can be detrimental to your goals. For instance, if you have gum disease (and it sounds like you do), getting braces to straighten your teeth before your gums are healthy will cause your teeth to come loose and fall out. Then instead of straightening your teeth, you’re stuck replacing them.

Because you’re going to the dentist monthly instead of twice a year leads me to believe you have advanced gum disease. That’s your first priority. When that’s in check, there’s much more you can do cosmetically with your teeth.

One proactive step you can do on the cosmetic end, even while you have gum disease, is teeth whitening. I will warn you, the exposed areas where your gums have receded will be sensitive to the whitening gel. Though, with professional teeth whitening, it’s common for the dentist to custom design the trays to your bite. He can try to avoid those areas, while simultaneously making sure the coverage is such that you’ll have an even tooth color.

All of that being said, two years seem excessive with monthly visits. You should be able to spread them out more by now if he’s doing everything he can to help with your gum disease and you’re keeping up with your oral hygiene. You may consider getting a second opinion. Some dentists even give free second opinions so it may not even cost you anything.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

What I Do? The Emergency Dentist Perforated My Sinus

I’m in massive pain and I no longer trust the dentist I went to see. I had a molar that was killing me. I went to see an emergency dentist. He said my mouth was in pretty bad shape and he couldn’t tell which molar was the problem. He suggested I have both extracted. I was in so much pain I would have agreed to have my jaw removed at that point. There didn’t seem to be any problem taking out the molars and I went home feeling a smidge better, but still in pain. I thought it was just healing from the procedure. A few days later, I started feeling weird pops and growing achy. I called their office. Not only did they not tell me that anything went wrong during the procedure, but they just suggested I take a decongestant. Not much longer I developed a fever. They called in an antibiotic for me, but I insisted on coming in for them to look. They complied. It wasn’t until I go there that they mentioned my sinus was perforated during the extraction. I was really upset I wasn’t given that information. It seems kind of important to know I now have a hole where I shouldn’t have one. They even pulled some bone fragments out of the area. The problem I’ve got is I’ve finished the antibiotics and I still feel horrible and still have a fever. As I said at the beginning, I don’t trust this dentist anymore. What do you recommend?

Peggy A.

Dear Peggy,

Gilbert Emergency Dentist

There were some serious mistakes made here, so I don’t blame you for not trusting this practice any more. In the first place, while perforations do happen, there are very specific and important protocols which should have been taken. At the very least, he should have told you in order to warn you not to do things like blow your nose, which could derail any healing process.

Then, the incompetence of not clueing into the possibility that you had an infection when you called the first time is beyond me. Plus, it sounds like he placed you on the wrong antibiotics. You should have been significantly better within two days.

This needs to be addressed. First, talk to your doctor about what’s going on. He can get you on the correct antibiotic and arrange for you to have an emergency ENT (Ear, nose, and throat) appointment. They should get you on the road to recovery soon.

I’m guessing the reason you went to an emergency dentist to begin with is because you don’t have a regular dentist whom you see. Generally, that happens when a patient has dental anxiety. If that’s you, I wanted to give you some hope. When you start looking for another dentist, I’d like to suggest you try someone who uses dental sedation. This can give you a pain-free, stress-free appointment. I think it will help you feel comfortable going more regularly.

One of the best thing about most sedation dentists is they don’t judge or lecture. They’re used to working with fearful patients and are very compassionate.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt. Roper.

Will CEREC Crowns Hold Up as Well as Regular Crowns If I Grind?

My dentist just got a CEREC machine and wants me to get one for my new cavity. I’m a little concerned it won’t hold up as well as regular crowns. I tend to grind my teeth at night. Is he wanting me to get these just to try out his machine or are they legitimately strong? I don’t want to waste money.

Greg L.

Dear Greg,

Gilbert CEREC Crown

Both CEREC crowns and traditional crowns are equally strong. The biggest difference is one is milled by computer and can be completed during your appointment instead of having to be sent out to a lab to be completed. This eliminates the need for a second appointment or a temporary crown.

However, if you are a teeth grinder that needs to be addressed right away. Your crowns, whether traditional or CEREC, will not hold up to the stress the grinding places on them. Truthfully, neither will your natural teeth. It’s likely the reason you’ve had to have so many dental crowns to begin with.

Not only does teeth grinding wear down your enamel which leaves your teeth vulnerable to both decay and cracking, it also will cause jaw pain, headaches, and eventually TMJ. That can become serious.

I’m very surprised your dentist hasn’t recommended a night guard to protect your teeth. As soon as your crown is completed, you need to be fit for a custom nightguard. You won’t be able to stop grinding your teeth, especially if you do it mostly in your sleep. However, the nightguard protects them from the stress of the grinding.

After that, a well made dental crown can last upwards of 15 years.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Can I Still Get Dental Sedation If I Take Anxiety Meds?

I’m on two medications. One for depression and one for anxiety. I want to get sedation when I have my dental procedure done but I’m worried they won’t let me. Can you tell me what sedation medications they use so I can make sure it’s fine with my medication? I’m afraid if I tell them about the meds they’ll send me away.

Lisa W.

Dear Lisa,

Dental Sedation

The problem with your request is two-fold. One, every dentist uses different sedation medication so there would be no way to know whether or you’d be checking the right medication. Second, your dosages make a difference as to how much the dentist can give you. I know you’re worried about being sent packing, but that won’t happen.

Dentists who deal with anxious patients are used to patients on multiple medications. The only thing you’ll need to do is schedule a consultation with your dentist so he or she can make sure whatever they use will work well with what you’re taking.

If what they use would interfere they will either change what they use or make arrangements with another dentist who prefers the other medicine to work with you.

Dental anxiety is common and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed by it, but what you’re doing is brave. You’re facing your fears to get the treatment you need. That puts you ahead of many patients who can’t do that and then end up with a dental emergency.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Do Affordable Dentists Always Price Gouge?

I haven’t been to the dentist for about three years because of unemployment. I’m still unemployed, but just felt like it’d been too much time and I needed to at least get a cleaning. I specifically looked for an affordable dentist. Yet, when I went there I felt like they nickled and dimed me for everything. Not only did they do the more expensive “deep cleaning” but they charged me for a fluoride treatment, and dental sealants. They’ve also asked me to come back in two weeks. How can I possibly do that after being out so much money today? Is this what I can expect from “affordable” dentists?

Luisa M.

Dear Luisa,

First, it’s impressive that you’re making such an effort to get dental care when you’ve been struggling with unemployment for so long. It shows you care about your oral hygiene. The deep cleaning can be typical, especially if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while. The fluoride treatment is useful, but optional. It helps kill bacteria. However, they should have asked.

One thing that puzzles me is the dental sealants. Those are usually placed on children. And, it is something they should definitely have asked about before placing them. In fact, generally an office goes through any procedure to make sure you understand the charges and agree to them before you start. I’d contest the sealants and fluoride because they didn’t ask.

In future, I’d suggest you still look for affordable dentists, but ahead of time discuss what their payment policy is. Also, be clear with them that you want to approve any extras along with their costs before hand. Be aware that many dentists will let you pay out any necessary expenses to get the treatment you deserve.

The upside to getting the dental sealants is you won’t have to worry about cavities getting into the grooves of your molars.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

I Think My Tooth is Crumbling

I had a root canal done. My dentist put in a temporary filling until I could do the dental crown appointment. I’m still a few days away from that. When I went out for a meal today I felt something grainy in my food. I think my tooth is crumbling. What do I do? I don’t want to lose the whole thing and not be able to get the crown.

Emily S.

Dear Emily,

My suspicion is it’s not your tooth crumbling, but instead the temporary filling dislodged. Take a peek at the tooth. If there’s a hole in the center of the tooth, that means you’ve lost the filling. If the shape of the tooth is changing, then the tooth is crumbling.

If it’s just the filling, don’t worry. They’re designed to come out easily so the dentist can do the needed work in time. As your appointment is only a few days away, you can just get some temporary filling material to hold you over until your appointment. It’s designed for people in just your situation. It wouldn’t last for more than a few days, but as you’re going in for your dental crown at that point, no problem. You can find them at most drug stores.

If it’s the tooth, that’s an entirely different situation. You’ll need to be seen right away. Like you said, you don’t want to lose so much tooth structure that you’ll have to get an extraction and replacement tooth. Your dentist should have an after hours protocol. Give them a buzz and there should be instructions on their voicemail.

If they don’t have an after-hours call number, then just see an emergency dentist. They’ll make sure your tooth is protected so you can still get your crown.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.