Frequently Asked Questions, Dolton

Some of our more frequently asked questions are found below. We present these for the opportunity to dispel myths and to make you more informed. You should always feel free to ask questions during any appointment.

This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions we deal with. I think it stems from dentists in the past being too ready to start a root canal while the patient still has a significant infection and is often already in pain.

Today, we generally use antibiotics before we start treatment. This gets our patients comfortable and when we actually do the root canal treatment it goes quickly and easily.

It is so comfortable that patients SLEEP through longer than the root canal treatment time. It is boring!

Something about root canal treatment breeds all kinds of misconceptions. This is another common one.

According to a couple of recent studies root canal treatment is effective anywhere between 87% and 94% or better of the time. Nothing in medicine is one hundred percent effective.

When we say effective, by the way, we mean it accomplishes its goal. In this case a root canal is meant to remove the source or possible source of infection and allow the tooth to be repaired and saved for an indefinite period of time.

What many people confuse with root canals not working is that patients often get the root canal done then they do not get the rest of the treatment. Once the root canal is complete you need to have a filling done and a crown (in most cases). When either or both of these are not done, the tooth will probably decay again or often break and have to be removed.

So if you need root canal treatment commit to getting the filling and crown done. Otherwise it is often better to just remove the tooth and save yourself the future headache.

Let’s face it, nobody likes injections. (If they do, I’m concerned). But the choice is often between a split second of discomfort or an entire appointment of pain. I’d take the split second.

We use some of the most potent topical anesthetics available today. These are medicines that when sprayed or placed on the gums help numb them before the injection is even given. They can be so effective at times that you may not even feel the injection itself.

Don’t let fear of a simple injection keep you from maintaining or improving your dental health.

This surprises many patients since most dentists don’t place sutures (stitches). Even though it is an extra step and a bit of extra cost, we like to place a suture (stitch) after most extractions to help close the wound up as much as possible. It is our feeling that we get better healing and less complications like dry socket because of this.

Until recently we did accept personal checks. Unfortunately, we got to the point when too many people were writing bad ones. Often that would be no big deal IF the check writer made good on the check later. We had too many of these bad check writers deciding that they weren’t going to make good on the checks. This meant our costs go up and ultimately all the other patients (you?) would have to pay higher fees. Not fair by my way of seeing it. So — no checks.

WE WISH! No, unfortunately it is a very rare occasion when a patient comes in who actually has 100% coverage for all treatment. More commonly you get 100% for check-ups, 80 to 90% for fillings and “basic” dental care and 40 to 60% for “major” (replacement of teeth, crowns etc.)

Most plans we deal with have a once a year deductible which must be paid by you before any insurance can be paid for basic or major treatment (not check-ups). Some plans pay based on a “fee schedule”. This means they pay a flat fee regardless of what we or any other dentist charges. Then percentages are not involved at all.

Keep in mind also that dental fees are subject to what insurance companies like to call “usual and customary” adjustments. This is the insurance company has preset the maximum fee they will pay against. With our below average fees this is rarely a problem.

A common thought is; “if it is a tooth that is going to come out eventually anyhow why fix or save it?”

Baby teeth (also called primary teeth) serve many useful purposes.

1. They hold space for the permanent teeth. If the tooth is lost too soon then other teeth can move into the space and when the permanent tooth tries to come in it can’t. Then you’ll be looking at a big bill for braces.

2. They, of course, let your child chew food. Just like you and me, if you don’t have enough or the right teeth chewing can become difficult.

3. These teeth can cause tooth aches just like adult teeth. So a cavity left unfilled can cause your child severe pain from infection.

So it is important to fix and save baby teeth. If the tooth are near time to come out, then and only then we might not treat problems on them.

Every time we treat a tooth in virtually any way we are traumatizing the tooth. Like any other part of the body a tooth can be bruised. After fillings it is not unusual for them to be sensitive to temperature (cold) and chewing pressures.

If the discomfort persists for more than a few days check with the office as some adjustments to the fillings may need to occur.

In the meanwhile using pain relievers particularly Ibuprofen types can help settle the tooth down and relieve your discomfort.