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Filling or Root Canal? Is two weeks too long to wait?

J

JessTheWorryWart

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Jul 19, 2016
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I have a cavity on my lower first molar, however it isn't located in the center of the tooth, but more to the side--it's hard to describe without seeing it, but it kind of reminds me of how a piece of ice might chip off a glacier. It's created a kind of little scoop on my tooth. I had this cavity filled with silver (amalgam?) over ten years ago but it came out when I was eating a tootsie roll, so I had it filled with white stuff (composite?) Over the years the composite has seemed to be rubbing away, causing my tooth to indent where the cavity is. At this point most of the composite is gone and I am currently left with this scoop out of my tooth that is becoming discolored, especially lately. It seems to be getting deeper and darker. I experience a bit of sensitivity if I tongue it or chew on that side of my mouth, not really much sensitivity when eating hot or cold things. I am waiting to be approved for Medicaid so as soon as I'm approved I'll be able to make an appointment, but until then, I have two questions:

1. From the images I've seen of root canals, they seem to always go through the very top of the tooth. the Thing is, the top of my tooth isn't where the cavity is, it's more on the "ledge" of my tooth (picture the glacier again haha). Can root canals be performed in that area? And is there a way for me to know so I can prepare myself that I'm going to need one? It's concerning to me due to it's large area. I have no other symptoms, no jaw pain, head aches, sharp pains, swelling, honestly it's most concerning to me simply because it looks much more awful than it feels

2. How terrible is it that I won't be able to get this taken care of for at least two weeks? My boyfriend bought me that stuff you can use to temporarily fill a cavity but due to its location and size it just won't stay put..it crumbles and just slides off my tooth with my saliva.
 
S

ScaredyCat22

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you don't seem to have any symptoms of needing a root canal. such as pain that keeps you awake, throbbing like a heart beat, excruciating sensitivity to heat, abscess, etc. what makes you think you need one? you do not get a root canal just because you have a cavity. Root canals are for teeth that are dead or dying, or so severely decayed so close to the pulp that filling it would cause the pulp to die anyway.

in the unlikely event that you do need a rot canal yes they go through the top of your tooth to scrape out the pulp.
you are most likely going to need a filling, or if a large part of the tooth structure is decayed or missing you might need a crown.

a root canal is not something performed on an area. a root canal removes all of the pulp from the tooth, then the canals are shaped and filled all the way down to the root
 
J

JessTheWorryWart

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Wow thank you so much for the quick reply! My first thought that I might need a root canal is because I'm a hypochondriac. My mind always jumps to the worst case scenario. I guess it's also partially due to how my tooth currently looks...like a "chunk" of it is missing. The cavity covers such a large surface area, but doesn't seem to be that deep.

Its discoloration is also concerning. It's been discolored in the past as the composite slowly fades away, but almost overnight it seems it's darker, as if another piece of the composite chipped away revealing the growing cavity underneath. I didn't feel anything while eating, I noticed the darkness while brushing and was honestly shocked. At first I thought a piece of food was stuck in it. It isn't by any means black, more of a dark brownish, yellowish color. It seems a bit more sensitive than it had been, but that could also be because I'm fussing with it.

I'm also not sure of the urgency. Everything I read says to go to a dentist immediately if your filling falls out. Mine hasn't technically fallen out, it's just wear and tear due to it being over ten years old. I probably should have gotten it replaced a while ago. I could be approved for Medicaid as early as this Friday, but it could take longer in which case I wouldn't be able to make an appointment until next week some time. Would that be an okay thing for me to do? My other option is to borrow money from my Mother so I could get it fixed ASAP, but I'd rather avoid that.

I'm fine with waiting as it's not terribly uncomfortable, I just don't want to be doing more damage to the tooth by waiting, God forbid I get an infection or it gets to be more painful in the coming week.

Did I mention my birthday is this Saturday? lol!
 
S

ScaredyCat22

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Wow thank you so much for the quick reply! My first thought that I might need a root canal is because I'm a hypochondriac. My mind always jumps to the worst case scenario. I guess it's also partially due to how my tooth currently looks...like a "chunk" of it is missing. The cavity covers such a large surface area, but doesn't seem to be that deep.

Its discoloration is also concerning. It's been discolored in the past as the composite slowly fades away, but almost overnight it seems it's darker, as if another piece of the composite chipped away revealing the growing cavity underneath. I didn't feel anything while eating, I noticed the darkness while brushing and was honestly shocked. At first I thought a piece of food was stuck in it. It isn't by any means black, more of a dark brownish, yellowish color. It seems a bit more sensitive than it had been, but that could also be because I'm fussing with it.

I'm also not sure of the urgency. Everything I read says to go to a dentist immediately if your filling falls out. Mine hasn't technically fallen out, it's just wear and tear due to it being over ten years old. I probably should have gotten it replaced a while ago. I could be approved for Medicaid as early as this Friday, but it could take longer in which case I wouldn't be able to make an appointment until next week some time. Would that be an okay thing for me to do? My other option is to borrow money from my Mother so I could get it fixed ASAP, but I'd rather avoid that.

I'm fine with waiting as it's not terribly uncomfortable, I just don't want to be doing more damage to the tooth by waiting, God forbid I get an infection or it gets to be more painful in the coming week.

Did I mention my birthday is this Saturday? lol!

I wouldn't really leave it that long. especially if it is deep. I also would not chew on it until you get it fixed.
 
Angeldove

Angeldove

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Just throwing this out - some teeth that need root canals will not have pain. In most of my root canal treated teeth, the only pain I ever had may have felt like I had a cavity. The dentist needs to x-ray your teeth and take a look at what is going on before they can decide if you need a filling, a crown, or a root canal treatment.
 
J

JessTheWorryWart

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I wouldn't really leave it that long. especially if it is deep. I also would not chew on it until you get it fixed.

Well that just heightened my anxiety by a million points! I was expecting a response more along the lines of "it's okay, a week won't hurt, but get it looked at as soon as you can"

reading my response back I'm realizing now I may have been exaggerating. When I mean a chunk was missing that's not really what it is...its just that my tooth is indented where the cavity is. As I said I'm a hypochondriac and an extreme worrier and a tendency to be more dramatic than the situation really is. My boyfriend looked at it and as I said before it doesn't seem to be deep at all, more on the surface. Between my work schedule and my Medicaid issues, realistically I don't think I'll be able to get an appointment until Tuesday at the earliest. I also don't want to have my weekend full of birthday plans that have been made far in advance to be ruined by a painful mouth due to recent dental work. Honestly my wisdom tooth is bothering me and hurting way more than this cavity is.

What is one to do if they simply cannot afford to pay for the work out of pocket? I physically have no other choice, I'm broke and can't even afford a discount dentist etc nor would I want to get bad work done. I pretty much have to wait. Could my tooth really rot and cause a huge infection if I wait one more week?
 
J

JessTheWorryWart

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Joined
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Messages
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Just throwing this out - some teeth that need root canals will not have pain. In most of my root canal treated teeth, the only pain I ever had may have felt like I had a cavity. The dentist needs to x-ray your teeth and take a look at what is going on before they can decide if you need a filling, a crown, or a root canal treatment.

Right, hence why I initially asked about a possible root canal. I feel like I'm getting mixed messages as the previous poster said a root canal is needed on a badly damaged rotted tooth, but you're telling me it can be needed even if it isn't that bad. I'm so confused.

I thought this forum was to help people with dental anxiety but really it just caused more anxiety for me.
 
S

ScaredyCat22

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Sorry if I distressed or confused you. A tooth does not need to be rotted to die. I didn't think I said otherwise. A tooth can die from the trauma of being broken. If your tooth is not broken and a chunk is not missing and all that happened is your filling came out and you have no symptoms of needing a root canal then most likely you won't need one. But I still would not chew on it and risk damaging it further before it is looked at. My only experience with a filling falling out did not require a root canal. But I did not wait to get the filling replaced.
 
J

JessTheWorryWart

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Sorry if I distressed or confused you. A tooth does not need to be rotted to die. I didn't think I said otherwise. A tooth can die from the trauma of being broken. If your tooth is not broken and a chunk is not missing and all that happened is your filling came out and you have no symptoms of needing a root canal then most likely you won't need one. But I still would not chew on it and risk damaging it further before it is looked at. My only experience with a filling falling out did not require a root canal. But I did not wait to get the filling replaced.


At this point my issue isn't about whether or not I need a root canal. If I do, I do. I honestly don't think I do, think I'll need a new filling and cap/crown. Whatever needs to be done to fix it is fine by me. What is distressing is what I've read and what I'm being told about waiting. Of course if I had insurance I would have made an appointment as soon as I noticed it, but like I stated I'm in limbo with my insurance and simply cannot afford to get the work done. I'm pretty surprised at the response by not just you but others about getting it looked at immediately. I just can't. So what am I to do? I can make an appointment for Tuesday at the earliest. I tried to insert a pic.


image1.JPG
 
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Angeldove

Angeldove

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At this point my issue isn't about whether or not I need a root canal. If I do, I do. I honestly don't think I do, think I'll need a new filling and cap/crown. Whatever needs to be done to fix it is fine by me. What is distressing is what I've read and what I'm being told about waiting.

A year and a half ago I walked into my dentist's office after not going for 10+ years. I was given a 3 page long treatment plan and told what I should get done that year. My dentist said I should get it all done with 2-3 years, knowing what my insurance would pay and what discounts it would give me, and that I had to balance getting work done with finances.

I also signed up for Care Credit. I asked for the total amount of work I needed, but I had no intentions of doing it all at once and owing $11k. (My total "bill" amount has stayed some where around $3k as I pay things off each month - I'm paying around $200 a month, which I can afford.) If it wasn't for Care Credit, I wouldn't be able to do as much work as I've gotten done. I'm not sure if something like a credit card is something you can get, but at least check it out. Care Credit is awesome - as long as I pay that charge within 24 months, they do not charge me any interest. (I have a spreadsheet filled out so I'm on top of everything.)

So can you wait? Yes absolutely - I've done 3 root canals in a year and half (just got my 3rd one done) and I have 1 more to go that I might start this year, not sure. So yes, I have waited.

The down side of waiting: the tooth can become weaker, can break further and damage the rest of the tooth to the point of where you're only option is an extraction, and the infection can get worse and spread further. There's no way your dentist can promise you how long you have until the tooth will get worse, hence the urgency to get it done sooner rather than later if you want to save the tooth.

Of course if I had insurance I would have made an appointment as soon as I noticed it, but like I stated I'm in limbo with my insurance and simply cannot afford to get the work done. I'm pretty surprised at the response by not just you but others about getting it looked at immediately. I just can't. So what am I to do? I can make an appointment for Tuesday at the earliest. I tried to insert a pic.

Do you know the costs of your treatment? If not get the amounts.

I pay around $160 for a filling, $800 for a crown, and $1700 for a root canal treatment (it includes prepping the tooth, the permanent crown, and the root canal treatment, plus 2 temp crowns while waiting or more if I have any issues with them).

Check about credit cards - even if you have really sucky credit, see what they can do.

If that's a no go, looking at crowdfunding sites, like gofundme. I'm really serious about this because people do want to help. You don't have to go into all of the details, just explain your situation and post a picture of your treatment plan with amounts so people know it's legit. If you check out sites, you'll see you are not the only one asking for help with dental care.

So wait if you have to, but try to be proactive and find ways of funding your treatment plan. If you want to save the tooth, get it done as soon as possible because there is no way to guarantee it is not going to get any worse.
 
Angeldove

Angeldove

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Right, hence why I initially asked about a possible root canal. I feel like I'm getting mixed messages as the previous poster said a root canal is needed on a badly damaged rotted tooth, but you're telling me it can be needed even if it isn't that bad. I'm so confused.

I thought this forum was to help people with dental anxiety but really it just caused more anxiety for me.

Not knowing about dental procedures can cause anxiety and confusion. I was in your boat a year and half ago when I started my journey and since then I've done a lot of research and have talked to my dentist about procedures.

Here's how I would break it down.

If the infection is on the crown of the tooth (what you see above the gums) and hasn't gone deep into the crown or roots, you can probably just get a filling that will reshape the tooth a bit and get all the bad infected crown taken off.

If the majority of the crown is damaged, but it hasn't infected the roots, then you will probably get a crown put on. They will drill off any infected crown parts and reshape your tooth so that it looks like a peg kind of and put a new crown on top of it. If they get the colour right, you can't tell it's a fake tooth at all.


If the infection has gotten to the roots and damaged them, you will need a root canal. You might have some damage on the crown itself, but you can't tell about the root damage until you get an x-ray taken and the dentist can examine how the roots look. They might be able to tell very easily if there's a lot of damage or they might see a bit of damage and have to make a judgement call.

[broken link removed]
^^ You can see how the crown on the treated tooth is only partially damaged, but looking at the x-ray, you can also see how it's spread to the roots.


On one of my teeth that had a root canal, I had a round cavity going straight through the crown down to the roots, so I wasn't surprised about needing that. On another tooth, I had what I thought was just a tiny cavity, but unfortunately, the infection spread to my roots and I still needed a root canal treatment to save the tooth.

(But I'm not a medical doctor, so I'm only sharing based on what my dentist has shared with me and my own research as I understand it ;))
 
J

JessTheWorryWart

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Messages
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A year and a half ago I walked into my dentist's office after not going for 10+ years. I was given a 3 page long treatment plan and told what I should get done that year. My dentist said I should get it all done with 2-3 years, knowing what my insurance would pay and what discounts it would give me, and that I had to balance getting work done with finances.

I also signed up for Care Credit. I asked for the total amount of work I needed, but I had no intentions of doing it all at once and owing $11k. (My total "bill" amount has stayed some where around $3k as I pay things off each month - I'm paying around $200 a month, which I can afford.) If it wasn't for Care Credit, I wouldn't be able to do as much work as I've gotten done. I'm not sure if something like a credit card is something you can get, but at least check it out. Care Credit is awesome - as long as I pay that charge within 24 months, they do not charge me any interest. (I have a spreadsheet filled out so I'm on top of everything.)

So can you wait? Yes absolutely - I've done 3 root canals in a year and half (just got my 3rd one done) and I have 1 more to go that I might start this year, not sure. So yes, I have waited.

The down side of waiting: the tooth can become weaker, can break further and damage the rest of the tooth to the point of where you're only option is an extraction, and the infection can get worse and spread further. There's no way your dentist can promise you how long you have until the tooth will get worse, hence the urgency to get it done sooner rather than later if you want to save the tooth.



Do you know the costs of your treatment? If not get the amounts.

I pay around $160 for a filling, $800 for a crown, and $1700 for a root canal treatment (it includes prepping the tooth, the permanent crown, and the root canal treatment, plus 2 temp crowns while waiting or more if I have any issues with them).

Check about credit cards - even if you have really sucky credit, see what they can do.

If that's a no go, looking at crowdfunding sites, like gofundme. I'm really serious about this because people do want to help. You don't have to go into all of the details, just explain your situation and post a picture of your treatment plan with amounts so people know it's legit. If you check out sites, you'll see you are not the only one asking for help with dental care.

So wait if you have to, but try to be proactive and find ways of funding your treatment plan. If you want to save the tooth, get it done as soon as possible because there is no way to guarantee it is not going to get any worse.

Thanks for the suggestions. Like I said, I am just waiting on my Medicaid application to finish being processed. I called them and told them my situation and they have agreed to expedite the application. As soon as it's processed and my Medicaid becomes active again I'm going to make an appointment and get it taken care of. That is going to be next week. Because this is my route I don't see much point in something like crowdfunding which would probably take just as long to get the funds as it will be for me to wait on Medicaid, nor am I going to go out of my way to sign up for a brand new credit card when I can just wait and have Medicaid cover it.

With absolutely no insurance whatsoever no dentist will see me so I'm not sure how I could possibly know what exactly I need done or how much it would cost. I simply have to wait for Medicaid so I can get an appointment. Once again that would be about five or six days from now. I haven't gone to the dentist in over ten years besides an emergency visit about 3 years ago when I was under my mom's insurance still. I had an infected wisdom tooth. I haven't had a cleaning or cavities filled since high school and I'm 27 now (gonna be 28 on saturday)

I guess at this point my only question I need answering is how much damage can realistically be done to this tooth in the next five days. Considering I'm experiencing only mild sensitivity I can't imagine the time frame is long enough for my tooth to become significantly more decayed and or rotted. Yes of course I don't want them to have to extract it but I highly doubt that will be the case. What is the worse case scenario for me in the mean time? An infection causing soreness and a fever and swelling? A trip to the ER? Millions of people have no insurance and walk around with mouths full of decayed teeth. My own grandfather never went to a dentist before until he was over 70 years old and he's still got his. One little tooth, one little cavity, I think I'll survive five more days. I know everyone is saying get it looked at now now now but I need to be realistic.
 
J

JessTheWorryWart

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Thanks for the info on procedures. As I wrote in my other response, my anxiety doesn't lie in what needs to be done. I'm not over here freaking out about what I might need. Whatever I need I need. That's it. I WISH I could go in and get whatever it is I need done TODAY but like I said it just can't happen. My concern is waiting. And by waiting I'm not talking months, I'm talking days.
 
J

JessTheWorryWart

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I just HAD to update everyone that my Medicaid is back yay! I was able to call a dentist that accepts it and I made an appointment for Tuesday afternoon, four days from now. Not too bad!
 
carole

carole

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At this point my issue isn't about whether or not I need a root canal. If I do, I do. I honestly don't think I do, think I'll need a new filling and cap/crown. Whatever needs to be done to fix it is fine by me. What is distressing is what I've read and what I'm being told about waiting. Of course if I had insurance I would have made an appointment as soon as I noticed it, but like I stated I'm in limbo with my insurance and simply cannot afford to get the work done. I'm pretty surprised at the response by not just you but others about getting it looked at immediately. I just can't. So what am I to do? I can make an appointment for Tuesday at the earliest. I tried to insert a pic.


View attachment 1320


Hi I knew from your first post where the decay was on your tooth. I had a filling in the same place on the same tooth as you. I had the white filling put in it and after a few years it dropped out as they tend to do in that place on the tooth. They just cleaned the tooth and filled it back up when this happened.

A week or two or even a month isn't going to do you any damage, and as soon as your get your finances in place to get this done then I am sure you are going to make an appointment and get it fixed. My tooth lasted years and I still have it, I did after a lot of years get an infection in it due to the age of the tooth and the condition as I had other filling in the tooth as well. They did preform a rct and it is now crowned. I went about 6 years before it needed the rct so don't worry you will be okay.

Keep it as clean as you can until you get to the dentist, if it doesn't hurt to do so brush it and after eating rinse your mouth to get rid of any food particles that may stray into the cavity.

Try not to panic you will be okay until you get to see the dentist, sooner is always better but we can't always get to see a dentist straight away. :)
 
carole

carole

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I seen you have now got your medicaid through, you will be fine until your appointment. Don't worry and good luck for your appointment :clover::clover::clover:

Oh I forgot HAPPY BIRTHDAY :happybirthday::happybirthday::happybirthday::butterfly:
 
J

JessTheWorryWart

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I seen you have now got your medicaid through, you will be fine until your appointment. Don't worry and good luck for your appointment :clover::clover::clover:

Oh I forgot HAPPY BIRTHDAY :happybirthday::happybirthday::happybirthday::butterfly:

Thank you so much for your input and birthday wishes! It makes me feel better knowing someone else experienced something similar. After all my anxiety about the appointment, all I ended up getting was a bunch of X-rays and a cleaning. I had anticipated the dentist wanting to immediately take care of the tooth but she hardly batted an eye at it. I have a cavity on the other side of my mouth on the same tooth in the same spot and she told me it had to do with how my bite is. She told me eventually I would probably need a crown but didn't mention a thing about a root canal until I mentioned I thought I might need one because I fear the worst. She just gave me a referral for an oral surgeon for my wisdom teeth I should have out (that is an entirely different conversation haha) and just told me to make another appointment to get some fillings. She told me at this time she didn't see any abscesses.

As relieved as I was that she didn't seem concerned, I was also kind of hoping to get the filling for that tooth done that day. Now I have to wait until next Tuesday (five days from now) to get this filling along with a few other small ones filled. Ever since the visit the edges around where the cavity is have definitely become more sharp and my tooth feels more sensitive. I am chalking it up to the cleaning and the fact that I've been obsessively brushing myself. I can only assume that if she felt it was an emergency situation she would have filled it right then and there, I just hope it doesn't give me any more problems or become more painful in the meantime.

I am just sick of this stupid tooth! It looks awful and I can't stop tonguing it! That's probably not helping. No real pain though, just some tingling and sensitivity and the feeling like I just KNOW it's there.
 
carole

carole

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Hi mine needed a rct because my tooth was not good as it had other fillings in besides the one on the side. Every one is different and not all teeth that have fillings will need a rct. If your dentist thought it was urgent she would have sorted it out there and then with something temporary until your appointment on Tuesday.

Try not to stress, Tuesday will soon be here. Good luck for your appointment :butterfly:
 
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