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Can they do a root canal without asking!?? horrible experience

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Old 08-19-2010, 12:50 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: USA
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taffy10 HB User
Can they do a root canal without asking!?? horrible experience

I’m 23 and I’ve had dental problems my whole life. I had lots of problems with my baby teeth. I thought that my adult teeth were ok for the most part. I’ve had several fillings but nothing super serious until about 3 yrs ago. I went to a dentist because a part of one of my back molars chipped off. It didn’t hurt at all, but it kinda freaked me out so I went to the dentist to have it checked out. The dentist took an x-ray and said he could fix it up with a filling. They numbed me up and started the procedure. While they are in the middle of the procedure the dentist informs me that they will have to do a root canal because the crack is all the way to the root. I wasn’t asked. I was informed. It’s not like I can say anything while their hands are in my mouth and I figured it was needed if they say it is. They continue with the procedure. For the most part there wasn’t a lot of pain, but I remember they used the thing to measure the root canals and when they did it to the back inner canal it hurt super bad! I even made a little noise of pain and the dentist was like “You’ll feel a little pressure.” This wasn’t pressure it was sharp pain but I couldn’t say anything with them in my mouth, but after he took the instrument out it was ok. They continue and final sit my chair up and I though “finally it’s over!”. Then the dentist informs me that he doesn’t have time to finish at this appointment so he put a temporary filling in and that I needed to come back in a week to finish. This was around Christmas and I am a college student who goes to school out of state. He knew this and asked about when I would be living. He told me to let his secretary know I have to get in before I leave. This caused a whole new problem because it was Christmas and then new years so the office was closed a lot in the next few weeks and they were booked. The secretary was very rude and annoyed when I told her what the dentist had said. Finally she gave me an appointment and wrote it on a card and said she would call this other patient and see if she would reschedule and allow me to take her stop due to the circumstances. She told me to come at the time she gave me unless they called to tell me otherwise.

The week between the two appointments were agonizing hell. I couldn’t eat anything without my having sharp pains on that side of my mouth. It hurt to even have my top teeth touch that tooth. I was given no pain killers and told to take over-the-counter pain meds. I was very irritated. My tooth didn’t even hurt when I went in to the dentist and now I was in extreme pain!

I go in for my next appointment and I’m told that I was never scheduled at all. I wasn’t in the computer system at all!!! It was a different lady, and she was much nicer and when I explained the situation she talked to the dentist and he got me in that day but I had to wait until he was done with all of his patients for that day so I was there waiting for about 3 hrs before I was even seen. I was pretty upset but what could I do? They finish the procedure and tell me I will need a crown on the tooth in the next yr. Then I am given the bill (for just the root canal not including the crown) which is close to $1,000!!!!! There is no way I can afford the crown and I have insurance!

Several months after the root canal my tooth has sharp pain when I bite down on that tooth, specifically the area that hurt really bad while they were measuring the root. I went back to the dentist to have it checked out. They take x rays. The dentist says the tooth looks great and preformed a hot/cold sensitivity test and said that it was fine. He said that one of my top teeth on that side needed a filling and that it was probably causing me the pain. I said that the pain was definitely in that tooth and not the other one, but he told me it is very common for the pain to be displaced when there are problems. He says he will fix up the problem and that it will be a simple filling. (My mom actually is with my this time because she was very ****** about the root canal because the dentist said he was going to just do a filling and my parents couldn’t really afford it).
They start the filling and my mom leaves and goes to the waiting room. During the procedure the dentist informs me that this tooth also needs a root canal. I knew my mom would be ****** but I couldn’t say anything with all the stuff in my mouth and they really didn’t give me an option. They never asked if I wanted it or gave me any options. This one went a lot better. No pain at all. They finished it in one setting and it has never given me any problems since. My mom had a few choice words for them afterwards as she was still trying to pay off the first root canal and my insurance was maxed out.

It’s been 3 yrs since my first root canal and that tooth still hurts when I bite down. It’s livable. I just can’t chew hard things on the side without having a sharp pain shoot through my mouth. I’ve done some research and now know that there is probably a crack in the tooth which is causing me pain. Cracks often times don’t show up on x-rays. It’s frustrating knowing I spent close to 1000 on a tooth that will eventually have to be pulled and that is causing me pain when it wasn’t even hurting at all when I went in to the dentist. If I knew what I knew now I would have just left the chip in the tooth and I wouldn’t be in pain now plus out a lot of money.

I have since changed dentists because I feel like he was very unprofessional the way my first root canal was handled, and I feel that it was wrong for him not to give me an option before performing the root canals. But I was wondering if this is typical? Is it normal/acceptable for dentist to tell you they are doing a filling and end up doing a root canal. Should they be able to tell if they need to do a root canal based on the x-rays and examination? In the middle of a filling if they realize a root canal is needed should the stop the procedure and explain what is going on and give you the options you have: root canal, extraction, leaving it alone? Ever since this experience I’ve been terrified of going to the dentist. Whenever I have to go in for fillings I’m terrified I’ll come out with a root canal. I haven’t had any problems with my new dentist, but I recently had to change dentist because I moved and I’m nervous that this will happen again.

Last edited by taffy10; 08-19-2010 at 12:51 AM.

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Old 08-19-2010, 05:01 AM   #2
curly fry
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Re: Can they do a root canal without asking!?? horrible experience

I'm sorry but this is super duper long. But I skimmed it and will give you my personal advice and what I have seen performed at dental office. My mom is a dental assistant so I know and have witness a lot of dental procedure and partly 'assisted' in some.

I had a cavity filled years and years and years ago. First doctor, who was part of my mom's team, but it happens, didn't remove all the cavity. So yearsssss (i'm talking about maybe even a decade!), the cavity regrew under the filling. It had gotten so large. I never felt pain. My dentist at the time was going to remove the old filling and just refill again. As she was removing the old filling and new cavity, she saw just how deep the cavity was. She said I would most likely require a root canal. I asked her if she could just fill it, because I wasn't going to have time for a root canal procedure because I was away in college and only home for a few days. She said she would do a regular filling but in the future I may require a root canal. Till this day, I don't need a root canal, but I know that eventually, I will need one just because there really is barely any natural tooth left. It's like a tooth shell, filled with amalgam!

You didn't tell the dentist to stop the procedure, so he probably thought you were on board. And the 2nd time around, you should have stopped him, go have gotten your mother, and have the dentist talk to her to explain the situation. Parents will get the full story. All you knew was that the dentist said you needed a root canal.

I don't what kind of dental ins you have, but crowns are usually covered up to a certain percent. Our crowns were $750 a few years ago, so $1000 seem acurate for a porcelain crown. As far as the pain. If you're in pain, you're in pain, regardless of what an xray says. I don't know if you have explained to the doctor is exactly what the pain is like. It is possible they left a root in there which can cause excruciating pain. Since you are at a new dentist, you are going to pay all over. Your work should be backed up by the first dentist who did the work. You already paid him. He should be able to go back and fix it- with a little arguing, possibly.

Before commiting to a dentist, explain to new potential dentist what you have been through and get a second opinion with different dentist so that you know what you are getting yourself into. G/L

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