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Putting off a root canal

User Level:
Patient
Posted by: sherylherr  (5 years ago)
Several months ago, 6-8 I suppose, I went to the dentist. They told me that I would need root canals and crowns on two teeth. (I clench my teeth severely at night and caused my already filled teeth to become inflammed and abscess). I've been putting it off due to financial situations. I went to another dentist (because of financing options) who referred me to an endodontist. I currently have an almost nonexistant insurance policy. However, in about 3 months I'll finish with school (nursing) and be eligible to move into a full time position with benefits. At this point, is it going to cause anymore serious damage to wait until that time (mid May) to have these fixed? The dentist said it "wasn't a good idea". And I, of course, understand that. However, they're telling me it's going to be just shy of $5,000 to have both corrected and I just don't have access to those types of funds right now. She did tell me that I had some "lesions" near one tooth.

Thanks in advance!!!
User Level:
Dentist
Several months ago, 6-8 I suppose, I went to the dentist. They told me that I would need root canals and crowns on two teeth. (I clench my teeth severely at night and caused my already filled teeth to become inflammed and abscess). I've been putting it off due to financial situations. I went to another dentist (because of financing options) who referred me to an endodontist. I currently have an almost nonexistant insurance policy. However, in about 3 months I'll finish with school (nursing) and be eligible to move into a full time position with benefits. At this point, is it going to cause anymore serious damage to wait until that time (mid May) to have these fixed? The dentist said it "wasn't a good idea". And I, of course, understand that. However, they're telling me it's going to be just shy of $5,000 to have both corrected and I just don't have access to those types of funds right now. She did tell me that I had some "lesions" near one tooth.

Thanks in advance!!!


The biggest risks in waiting are these:

1.One or both will blow up while waiting. One morning you will wake up and the side of your face may be horribly swollen.
2. The body will begin to eat away your the ends of the roots, making good root canals difficult.

I must say it has been extremely rare to need root canals because of clenching and grinding.

Step back for a moment and look at the big picture. Even if you get a great job with dental benefits in three months, there may be a waiting period. In any event, 2 posterior root canals, 2 buildups, and 2 crowns, will likely exceed your yearly maximum by a good bit. So you would probably go out of pocket a good deal. Of course, you will be making a decent income and be more likely to be able to afford this. But don't overestimate dental benefits, even in nursing. Some of the dental policies I am seeing are very mediocre PPO and DMO plans, and are not worth the money in premiums. Many times employees are better off funding dental expenses by FLEX benefit plans or HSAs.

Be aware that endodontists will charge 20% to 30% more for root canals than a capable GP will. GP dentist fees for molar root canals in Atlanta, for instance, are between $750-900. Your best value is almost always a GP who is good at doing a wide range of procedures.

An option for you is to have one or both root canals done now. You can find an ex-military dentist who can restore them with a large silver amalgam rather than a crown. These are about 1/4 the cost of a crown. I have seen them hold up for 20+ years. As benefits and money allow, you can have crowns done on them to make them white and pretty. (I am assuming the teeth are molars, but they may not be.) Amalgam is an economical and reliable material to save teeth, despite the rubbish published against it on the internet.

Another option I resort to rarely, for patients in short-term financial pinches, is start the root canal, and fill the canals temporarily with a calcium hydroxide paste. I then deduct the $250 or so charge for this off the fee for the root canal, if the patient returns for completion. At least this treatment decreases the chance of infection, as the bacterial population is eliminated short-term.

In summary, knowing the future is impossible. Who can say when your natural immunity may drop and one of the dental pulps may blow up. It could happen in the first week of your employment, and really mess things up! Who can say?
Posted 5 years ago
User Level:
Patient
Posted by: sherylherr  (5 years ago)
Both teeth have fairly large fillings that hit fairly close to the nerve. This time around, they were telling me they felt that was what caused the trauma. The teeth are #3 and #14 (I believe). The one on my right side fractured (no one felt the need to tell me that I needed a mouthguard).

Also, the dentist asked if I'd worn braces (which I never have) but stated that my roots had an "odd anatomy" and she didn't feel that her performing a root canal on either tooth would be an option, so came the referral to the endodontist.

Would it be in my best interest to seek another opinion at this point? In an attempt to find a dentist who could perform the root canal? I know that knowing the future isn't a possibility. My question is more for very serious complications.

Thanks,
Sheryl
User Level:
Dentist
Both teeth have fairly large fillings that hit fairly close to the nerve. This time around, they were telling me they felt that was what caused the trauma. The teeth are #3 and #14 (I believe). The one on my right side fractured (no one felt the need to tell me that I needed a mouthguard).

Also, the dentist asked if I'd worn braces (which I never have) but stated that my roots had an "odd anatomy" and she didn't feel that her performing a root canal on either tooth would be an option, so came the referral to the endodontist.

Would it be in my best interest to seek another opinion at this point? In an attempt to find a dentist who could perform the root canal? I know that knowing the future isn't a possibility. My question is more for very serious complications.

Thanks,
Sheryl


Probably it was the deep fillings rather than the grinding that caused the pulps to die.

Upper molars sometimes have one root that is very curved. Perhaps this is what scared the GP from doing the root canal.

Still say that you could bring the x-rays to a more experienced GP, hopefully an ex-military one, who would do the root canal. If you live close to a dental school, this would be a good case for an endo resident. These guys charge about half the fee of dentists on the outside.

As I said, the most likely complications are infection, or the body eating the ends off the roots with time.
Posted 5 years ago
User Level:
Patient
Posted by: achilles005  (4 years ago)
Several months ago, 6-8 I suppose, I went to the dentist. They told me that I would need root canals and crowns on two teeth. (I clench my teeth severely at night and caused my already filled teeth to become inflammed and abscess). I've been putting it off due to financial situations. I went to another dentist (because of financing options) who referred me to an endodontist. I currently have an almost nonexistant insurance policy. However, in about 3 months I'll finish with school (nursing) and be eligible to move into a full time position with benefits. At this point, is it going to cause anymore serious damage to wait until that time (mid May) to have these fixed? The dentist said it "wasn't a good idea". And I, of course, understand that. However, they're telling me it's going to be just shy of $5,000 to have both corrected and I just don't have access to those types of funds right now. She did tell me that I had some "lesions" near one tooth.

Thanks in advance!!!


The biggest dental mistake I have ever made was to get a root canal. I have one bridge with a root from an extracted tooth left in my jaw for 38 years and no issues, but after the root canal, health went downhill fast. I would seek some serious advice on this and consider pulling and implants or dentures, IMHO.
User Level:
Dentist
Every treatment, medical or dental, has a failure rate. The failure rate on root canals is around 6%. Just because you got one of the 6% does not mean that root canals are "bad."

When root canals fail, it is usually possible to retreat them, either conventionally or by doing a apicoectomy. The success rate on retreatment is about 80%.

You should know that failure rate for implants is 6%, which is virtually identical to the failure rates of root canals.

Posted 4 years ago
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