When patients are informed that dental work is recommended, there are those who get it done immediately and those who wait. This article tells the unhappy story of those who waited and what happened to them (no names given).
From Cracked Tooth to Lost Tooth
First Case: A 57-year-old male was having trouble chewing on a lower second molar that hurt when he chewed on it. The crack on the tooth was visible. He went to the endodontist (root canal specialist) who did a CT scan. The endodontist noticed that the crack was deep enough that the tooth needed a root canal. If the crack was further down the root then an extraction would have been recommended. So the patient had the root canal, the tooth felt better, and he was told to have a crown put on the tooth to protect the tooth from the crack. The patient decided to wait on that. Five months later he was having difficulty with the tooth again. I recommended that he revisit the endodontist and get another CT scan. This time the crack had progressed too far and the tooth could no longer be saved. This situation is very frustrating for all concerned. He’ll need to have the tooth out and have an implant, or just leave the space.
Deep Cleaning Advised
Another patient in his mid-40s showed early to moderate gum disease which required a deep-cleaning. This is a cleaning with an anesthetic that removes plaque and calculus (tartar, or calcified plaque) from the root surface. This patient did not have the procedure performed at that time. He returned 3 years later, and his bone had eroded from the inflammation process so nothing could be done. The condition doesn’t always accelerate that fast, but in this case, he became a denture case.
From Filling to Crown
In another case, a patient had decay on a tooth and was informed. He did not get the urgency of doing the procedure soon. But when he returned 8 months later, the decay had progressed to the point that he needed root canal therapy on the tooth plus a crown. Had he done the filling right away he would have just had a filling and that would have been the end of it.
As a dentist, our job is to communicate with the patient to enlighten him and have him do the treatment asap. However, patients have their own ideas which can get in the way of doing the treatment quickly resulting in complications.
Trust your dentist. If treatment is recommended, get it sooner than later!