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Is there a dentist in the house?

(15 Posts)
2jamsandwiches Mon 02-Aug-10 13:30:14

Hello hello,

I need advice about what to do: basic question is do I pay £700+ for a specialist to try to do a root canal, or do I do what my NHS dentist advises which is have the tooth taken out.

For YEARS I have had some discomfort at the top of my mouth (back right molar and wisdom tooth). Fussed about this every time I went to the dentist. Eventually one took out an old filling and replaced it with a white one. Didn't really make the discomfort better, indeed made it worse for a while, but liveable with. Fussed more.

After I had DC1 dentist said to hell with this I can't see anything wrong with your teeth, why don't you just have the wisdom tooth out. So I did. Seemed to heal fine, then bang, the most TERRIBLE toothache I have ever had (thread here). Total agony, way worse than childbirth. Antibiotics, xrays, nothing to be seen. Referred to dental hospital but dentist messed up referral and it never went anywhere. Pain moderated.

After DC2 it started to feel tender again. Saw new dentist who said no, nothing wrong. Went back a week later to say actually, there really is, and I'm fed up. Referred to dental hospital who said the tooth has died (acute pulpitis). Do a root canal.

So back to dentist again with diagnosis. She says ok, if that's what they say. Sets about trying to do a root canal (this is upper right 7). Digs away for two 45 minute sessions then says no, I can't do this. It's too far back, the canals are too small, the tooth is bleeding, I can't do it.

Her advice was just to have the tooth taken out. She said that she thought that even a specialist would struggle, and that anyway the prognosis for a root canal in these circumstances isn't great.

Any advice on what to do? I KNOW it is stupid to ask on a public forum when a dentist has already given me advice but I have to say I don't entirely trust her (not sure why), and I don't know what my options really are. We aren't made of money, so £700 feels like a lot to spend, but on the other hand I feel too young to lose a tooth...


Ewe Mon 02-Aug-10 13:47:38

I'm not a dentist but in exactly the same situation, I can either pay £££ for a root canal with specialist who has microscopes or have it taken out.

I am undecided too, I don't want to lose a tooth particularly but I don't like being forced to use a really expensive solution. I have also asked for a referral to Guys & St Thomas' dental hospital but I suspect it'll be such a long wait I will do something either way first. Are you near London? Would this be an option for you?

I think I am probably going to end up having mine out as I just get infection after infection and it kills! I also think that there should be NHS specialists in each area who are actually equipped to do root canals that are furthest back in the mouth, seems crazy the choice is to go private or lose tooth.

BrightLightBrightLight Mon 02-Aug-10 13:52:30

Message withdrawn

2jamsandwiches Mon 02-Aug-10 13:56:29

Hello Ewe,
I'm in London, and perhaps I should make a fuss and ask for an NHS referral. Dentist said that she had made several referrals over the years but nobody had ever been seen (waiting lists too long...) We're in the catchment of the Eastman Dental Hospital, maybe I should go back and fuss more.

The thing that leaves me really undecided is that the dentist implied that complicated root canals don't necessarily have a very long life anyway, and if they go wrong then the only sensible option is to have the tooth taken out anyway.

Let's hope a dentist pops by to advise us both!

snowmash Mon 02-Aug-10 16:41:37

I am not a dentist, but I know root filling a 7 can be difficult (had my upper 6 done twice in 10 years, and it will have to come out next time it goes bad).

The second time I had it done it was via the NHS, but only after many letters and discussions (I couldn't get private treatment even if I paid for it, so it highlighted a hole in service provision blush ).

I would be tempted to have a 7 pulled to be's generally very difficult to get dental hospital treatment (I paid for a filling in Nov, and am still waiting , and that's without any doubt that I qualify for their services).

2jamsandwiches Tue 03-Aug-10 10:18:56

Thank you snowmash: another advocate of having it pulled.

Bumping for a passing dentist!

MillyMollyMardy Tue 03-Aug-10 20:39:55

OK passing dentist here. A specialist endodontist is the person most likely to be able to save the tooth. They are pretty rare on the NHS. The dental hospitals have them but their role is to teach the students not carry out very lengthy and difficult treatment hence most compex root treatment is done privately. I don't refer to my local NHS clinics as I know the cases will be chucked back at me as the alternative on the NHS is to take the tooth out, not the ideal but an option.
OP only the endodontist will be able to give you a good idea how successful the treatment is likely to be, they will need to look at the tooth and the xrays and will tell you the odds.
To eat you will not miss this tooth we don't really chew on them. Psychologically you sound more attached. The only way of replacing a last standing tooth is with an implant so you are looking at a minimum of £2000 if you decide you miss it.
Ring your dental practice ask how much the specialist charges for the initial consultation and let them help you decide. Hope this helps

noddyholder Tue 03-Aug-10 20:47:11

I had v similar and after 2 years and agony and ££££££ I had tooth out and never looked back to be told by new dentist that root canals are rarely succesful!

MillyMollyMardy Tue 03-Aug-10 20:54:53


noddyholder Tue 03-Aug-10 21:26:16

Why the hmm I paid out repeatedly and had so much 'tried' that i ended up having it out at the local dental hospital who said they often had to remove failed root canals.I do agree that if you can keep your tooth its great but sometimes the pain is agonising.Also the low grade infection over a sustained period of time makes you feel dreadful and when I had tooth out and anti biotics I felt a real difference.

MillyMollyMardy Tue 03-Aug-10 21:53:07

It wasn't directed at you Noddy but the dentist's comment, root treatment is over 90% successful I hardly think that is "rarely successful". Their comment seems more directed at avoiding having to do any by telling people it is unlikely to work. I agree with you treatment that hasn't worked gives distress and pain and sometimes the decision needs to be made promptly to ditch the tooth rather than drag out someone's suffering.

sharbie Tue 03-Aug-10 22:01:22

I had a root canal 12 years ago and the tooth broke off a few years after - so you may have it done and then it falls out anyway.......

MillyMollyMardy Tue 03-Aug-10 22:06:37

If we are never going to carry out any treatment that isn't 100% successful or then guarantees that nothing untoward will happen later, most medical and dental procedures would never be done.

sharbie Tue 03-Aug-10 23:48:57

so OP there you have it - either have rc done and save it for a while or have it out now and be done with it smile

2jamsandwiches Thu 05-Aug-10 21:13:27

Thank you SO much MMM, that's really helpful.

I think you're right, what I need to do is to go and have an initial consultation and see what they say.

Am intrigued that we don't really eat on the very back teeth, it feels as if I do, if you see what I mean.

I think part of my unwillingness to just have the tooth pulled relates to the fact that I have always felt (smugly, I guess, given that I've always had good teeth) that tooth problems are mostly self-inflicted, and that having tooth problems is therefore a sign of Moral Weakness. Yes, I know, I just have to get over it...

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