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FAQ:  Root Canal Therapy RCT



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Question:
I really need some advice here. Back in early November I had some awful pain to the back molar in my mouth. I was new to the area, so I went to a new dentist, who happened to be an endodontist as well. He took x-rays and told me he couldn't find anything wrong with my teeth even though I was in so much pain. He said the x-rays were fine and gave me a referral to a specialist if I chose to go. He tell me that it could possibly be a bad sinus infection. I dealt with the pain which eventually went away and never referred to the specialist. Now, The pain came back. So a week ago, I called the same dentist and asked to be seen. I hadn't slept or eaten in 24 hours due to the pain. I went in and he used some novocaine- which didn't seem to help in the least. After taking x-rays, he said I had an abcessed tooth and that I either could have it pulled or a partial root canal that day to relieve the pain. Since I have no insurance, I was leaning more towards having it pulled since it was in the back of my mouth. He lectured me of course on how if one of my fingers were broke, would I chop it off? His assistant was shoving a pen and paper down my face to sign for a root canal and I was in so much pain, I listened to him and decided to go for the partial for the relief. After quite a few shots of Novocaine and the procedure was finished, I left. By the 5 minute ride home, I was in 100 times more pain that when I went there and my face was so swollen you couldn't even recognize me. A hint of a black eye was appearing. My fiance began paging the endodontist with no success. While I lay on the floor screaming in pain, he finally was able to reach him. The endodontist said there was nothing he could do for me. He said for me to take the antibiotics (veetids) and the pain medication (Lortab 7.5). Within minutes the pain was unbearable. We drove back to his office and he had a major attitude- he said "I can pull your tooth but I don't have time for anything else." This is the same dentist who just finished lecturing NOT to pull my tooth a half hour ago. The pain killers weren't helping, novocaine wasn't helping and the antibiotics didn't have time to kick in yet. I told him I wanted my records and I would go elsewhere. He wouldn't go for it. He then switched his story and said he could "squeeze" me in to finish the root canal that day. I was in so much pain, I went ahead and allowed him to do so. I asked him before leaving if there was anything stronger he could give me besides the Lortabs- he said NO. I know there was, but he wouldn't give it to me. So, my question to you is, if he saw me in November, would any sign of an abcessed tooth be visible on x-rays then when I first had the pain? Was the treatment I received as poorly as I felt it was? Not to mention, this so called dentist called me sweetheart a zillion times which to me is offensive. How do I go about getting my records to bring to a different endodontist for a second opinion? It's a week after the root canal and my swelling has gone down, but there is still some deep pain in my tooth. I couldn't leave my house or go to work for over a week. I looked like I had been mugged or something. I took pictures I was so scared. Do you think I should report him to the board?? I don't know if there is still a problem or not but I haven't felt right since. Headaches, diarrhea, tight chest, problems breathing and nausea. I am done taking the veetids as well. PLease help me if you can. Any advice would be appreciated.

Answer:
I feel bad for your experience because I see a lot of this un-empathetic treatment. Most dentists are very stressed nowadays and this is what usually happens. It seems as though quality care is disappearing slowly.

It also appears as though you should get a second opinion. Some infections do not show on x-rays despite pain, but it is very rare not to be able to diagnose a problematic tooth. Any tooth that has a deep filling or painful symptoms has a high chance of being infected. The endodontist is bound by ethical reasons to give you a copy of your records as well as copies of your x-rays. Sign a release and pay the nominal fee (probably less than $50), but get your records and seek another opinion.

I cannot get into legal advice, but you should see if everything is o.k. with your root canal. Your headaches, diarrhea, tight chest, etc. may be a side effect of the penicillin. Make sure you eat lots of yogurt and omit veggies and fruits. If the diarrhea gets worse contact your physician, or endodontist, and let them know. You may need different antibiotics, especially if the diarrhea gets worse. My main suggestion is to see another endodontist who can treat you better...or at least, more professionallly!

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