My teen still sees a pediatric dentist, mostly because the office does ortho and she was undergoing treatment until recently. When she successfully completed treatment, they recommended we do a fixed retainer rather than a removable one because they weren’t sure she’d wear the removable one like she should.
Well, she just started back to school and sings in the choir, so almost immediately after classes resumed, she began complaining that the fixed retainer was making it impossible to sing. The pediatric dentist asked her to give it a bit more time to get used to it, but she was coming home crying almost daily, so I pushed him to remove it.
I’m not sure what happened, but while he was removing it, one of my daughter’s lower front teeth was banged. It looks bad. It’s darker now and seems to be out of place. She’s also complaining that doing just about anything hurts.
The dentist took an x-ray and ran some tests. He said he doesn’t see anything wrong with the x-ray, but since the tooth responds to cold, he thinks it’s dying and will need a root canal. He referred us out to a specialist for it.
My questions are, first, isn’t the fact that it’s responding a good sign? Second, since he didn’t see anything on the x-ray, is there still a chance this will heal on its own?
There’s a lot to be concerned about here. Let’s break this down.
Dead and Dying Teeth Do Not Heal
When a tooth is diagnosed as dead or dying, it means the pulp inside the tooth is no longer vital, so it’s not capable of fighting off infection. The only fix in these situations is a root canal. Symptoms like responding to cold are signs that a root canal may be necessary, particularly if she’s experiencing a pain response when the tooth is cold. The coloration and clear indications of trauma point in that direction too.
The Pediatric Dentist’s Remarks Are Questionable
It’s worrisome that the dentist isn’t making a diagnosis given everything he’s seeing. It’s equally concerning that the tooth was damaged in what should have been a routine procedure. This is something that he should be covering—if he hasn’t already offered to pay for the follow-up treatment, you should ask him about it. Better yet, get a second opinion. You can take her to your family dentist or to a specialist to confirm the diagnosis. If that dentist sees what you’re describing and feels it needs a root canal, you can also ask his office to send a request for payment to the dentist who injured the tooth. Although some will avoid getting in the middle of these kinds of things, you can sometimes eliminate extra hoops to jump through by having the new treating doctor make the request.
Don’t Delay Treatment
If this is a dead or dying tooth—and it certainly sounds like it is—it’s only going to get worse. Get it checked out before your daughter’s in serious pain. Best to both of you.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Raymond Bolt, a family dentist providing pediatric dental services in Auburn, AL.