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Dentist , what a pain

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Health & Beauty MoneySaving
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treecoltreecol Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Health & Beauty MoneySaving
It seems that a new dentist (private) who has given my husband a filling may have exposed the nerve. He's in a lot of pain and the dentist has re xrayed the tooth and said all looks as it should be. She's given hi a course of anti biotics as a precaution saying the tooth should settle but so far it's getting worse.
She didn't charge for the visit to recheck the tooth, just £8.50 for the antibiotics.
So my question is, if she has exposed the nerve, I think the only remedy would be root canal and obviously that would need crowning afterwards, so who foots the bill? He had no pain from the tooth and was unaware a filling was needed. The dentist said it showed up on his new patient xrays. As far as I understand, once the root has been exposed, the nerve being removed is the only remedy. But is the dentist at fault for exposing a nerve during what she said would be a small routine filling? If so, how should we proceed?
Thank you in advance.
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  • brook2jackbrook2jack Forumite
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    Any decay in a tooth has the potential to cause the nerve to die off. Some people have quite large nerves in the tooth so even a small amount of decay can cause a problem.

    X rays are taken so decay can be spotted before it causes pain. As a rule of thumb decay that causes pain is a lot of decay in a tooth.


    When a dentist does a filling they remove as much decay as they can . Sometimes I'm removing the decay they get close to the nerve , that can't be helped they have to remove the decay. Sometimes the tooth settles down , sometimes the nerve dies and the tooth needs either taking out or root treatment.

    In other words any filling can cause a nerve to die off , it is not the dentists fault there was decay in the tooth and it needed filling , if further treatment needs doing your husband will have to fund it.
  • treecoltreecol Forumite
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    Thank you for your answer, at least we know.
  • treecoltreecol Forumite
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    Posting again as this problem with DH's tooth is still ongoing. He's still in a tremendous pain. He went back to the dentist and she took xrays saying she was surprised he had any pain at all as it was only a small filling and she did not expect any issues. She took an xrays and said all appeared as it should be. She suggested he leave it a few more days to give the nerve chance to settle.
    So by the end of last week he was in terrible pain and cannot eat on that side or eat/drink anything hot or cold. Went back to dentist who suggested she put a sedative dressing and temporary filling in. She did and as soon as the anaesthetic were off, banging pain again. She has said it will have to be root canal next.
    So my friend who is a dental hygienist says the nerve has obviously been exposed and that the dentist should not have done that if she was competent. She says it's obviously irreparably damaged.
    So my question is, should we now have to foot the huge bill as thus was apparently just a small filling and no risk was mentioned -the dentist was even surprised at the after pain.
    Now I'm not one to seek compensation and realise things happen. But this is costly and we are completely ignorant of anything to do with teeth. If we're told we need dental work, how do we know that's correct?
    I just want to check what we should now do.
  • brook2jackbrook2jack Forumite
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    As said before, any amount of decay of any size has the potential to cause a nerve to die off. Any filling of any size has the potential to cause a nerve to die off. If a dentist sees decay on a x ray ,unless it is so tiny it is reversible , they have no option but to fill the tooth, the decay ,once it reaches a certain size, will not get any better.

    The dentist has done all they can to preserve the nerve. Your friend , the hygienist is wrong , the nerve is not necessarily exposed , a tooth that is not even decayed or that hasn't got a filling can die off . The anatomy of root canals (nerves) can be very complex and there can be tiny microscopic extensions that cannot be seen on an x Ray.

    Removing the filling and putting a sedative dressing in is absolutely the right thing to do, but it is 50/50 whether the nerve will settle down or not.

    The tooth had decay , it needed filling. Unfortunately any filling can cause the nerve to die off. The dentist has done their best to avoid root treatment but it is looking like this is necessary now. It is not the dentists fault your husband needed a filling in the first place . Unfortunately he now needs to decide if he is going to have the tooth out or pay for root treatment.
  • treecoltreecol Forumite
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    Again, thank you. If it weren't for our friend saying the things she had, we would have accepted the situation without question. Although she is a hygienist one would hope she would have some knowledge about teeth.
    He needs to keep the tooth as he has a plate and the loss of a tooth could cause the others to move and give him more problems. So we'll just go ahead with r/canal.
  • edited 4 June 2019 at 7:04AM
    ToothsmithToothsmith Forumite
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    edited 4 June 2019 at 7:04AM
    I would agree with all that Brook has said, and I'm pretty sure I'd have done exactly what your dentist did if faced with similar circumstances. In fact - something extremely similar happened to me just a few weeks ago, and it was to the (grown up) child of one of my staff!

    A very routine & unremarkable filling (which just happened to be the first filling they'd ever needed) really gave some pain & sensitivity for a while afterwards. Fortunately, this tooth DID settle down after a couple of weeks without further intervention. If drilling at a tooth has caused it to go sensitive - then if you feel it might settle down, the last thing you want to do is take a drill to it again! So giving it a chance to settle is generally the first thing you should do!

    With my patient, a careful eye will need to be kept on this tooth to check it is still alive, and the reason for it calming down isn't that it has just died quietly!

    Your husband's dentist has done just what I would have done. You said that first review appointment wasn't charged, and I think you'd have mentioned if the second, and changing the filling for a sedative dressing was charged. I'm assuming therefore that they weren't either, so from a 'customer service' point of view, she's also done what I would have done. If that dressing had worked, then I'd also have replaced the proper filling with no further charge. The root filling though is a more involved and complex treatment, and the thing that has 'caused' it was the decay, not the dentist.

    In all this tale so far - the person acting most improperly would seem to be your hygienist friend! She should not be making judgements on what has happened. You're quite right. She should have a wider knowledge about tooth matters, and she should know that something like this, whilst rare, is perfectly possible.
    How to find a dentist.
    1. Get recommendations from friends/family/neighbours/etc.
    2. Once you have a short-list, VISIT the practices - dont just phone. Go on the pretext of getting a Practice Leaflet.
    3. Assess the helpfulness of the staff and the level of the facilities.
    4. Only book initial appointment when you find a place you are happy with.
  • treecoltreecol Forumite
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    Thank you for that very helpful reply. As I said in my previous reply, it was only at the insistance of my friend we began to question the whole thing. As DH said, in any line of work, his included, there is always the chance of unseen complications.
    It's like anything, being totally ignorant of dentistry, one feels totally reliant on the dentists advice and once seeds of doubt are sown by another.....
    Thank you for the clarity.
  • treecoltreecol Forumite
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    So DH had the first phase of his root canal today. The dentist said it bled a lot and that she was not surprised he had been experiencing pain due to the pressure building up in the tooth. She also said not to be surprised if the pain was still there for a few days and that if it doesn't settle to let her know.
    Fast forward to local anaesthetic wearing off and yes, he is in pain. In my ignorance, I presumed having the nerve removed from the tooth, would get rid of the pain. At this, all be it early stage, am sceptical it will slove his problem.
  • brook2jackbrook2jack Forumite
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    If you had surgery for, say an inflamed appendix (appendicitis) would you expect to be pain free immediately after surgery?

    Root treatment is microsurgery on an inflamed nerve. The inflammation affects not only the nerve but also the tissues around the tooth.

    Removing all of the nerve is not always easy as the anatomy can be very complex with many small branches which are impossible to get down. The dentist will have placed a disinfectant in the tooth which will help to clean out and remove any residual infection and lingering bits of nerve . Normally you expect the pain to settle down over the course of a few days.
  • treecoltreecol Forumite
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    No, absolutely wouldn't expect no pain after any other type of surgery. I suppose it's an ignorant presumption that removing the nerve = no more pain. Appreciate you confirming it's normal, that is reassuring.
    We've both had years of bad dentists on the NHS so now we are private, the worries about correct/necessary treatment still remain. Thank you again. Hopefully it'll settle over the weekend.
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