Category Archives: Emergency Dentistry

Why Didn’t the Emergency Dentist Treat My Husband and Me the Same?

My husband and I both had a dental situation which seemed exactly the same, but the emergency dentist treated us differently. We had a toothache. I had one first and avoided going in because I was sure it would need a root canal. When it became too hard to bear I went in. Lo and behold, it needed a root canal. Then my husband gets a toothache in a similar area. I told him if he didn’t go in he’d need a root canal also, but he did the same thing I did, and put it off.  Then, his blows up and he goes to the SAME emergency dentist but is told he only needs a crown. No root canal. Why the different treatment? Was my husband neglected or me given an unnecessary treatment?

Sara C. – New York


There are a few reasons the emergency dentist gave you two different treatments. One is the cause of the toothache. Teeth can hurt for different reasons. Some hurt for a cracked tooth. Some hurt for an infection or cavity. Some even hurt from a sinus infection.

Maybe your husband’s cause of pain was for something that didn’t require a root canal, but yours was. For instance, you have a cavity and the decay was close to a nerve. But, when he had a cavity, the decay hadn’t reached the center of the tooth or approached a nerve. But, it was invasive enough to need a crown instead of a filling.Those are usually the reasons for needing a root canal.

Patients also have different pain thresholds. Maybe your husband’s intolerable level is much lower than yours. So, when he ran to the dentist, it wasn’t too bad.  But, you could be a tough nut, so by the time the pain was too much for you the infection had really dug in.

I wonder what is the reason you have such an aversion to the dentist? Did you have a bad experience? I’m sure you’re aware the sooner you see a dentist, the easier the procedure.  Not to mention preventative care could keep you from having a problem to begin with.

If you experience dental anxiety, there is a fantastic solution. I’d look into dental sedation. This won’t knock you out. You’ll still function, but you’ll be completely relaxed and pain-free. You’ll likely find it revolutionizes your view of dental care.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. John Theriot.


Are Canker Sores a Sign of Oral Cancer?

I’m concerned my husband has oral cancer. He gets these canker sores all the time. This last one is worse than ever and now he can’t eat. Does he need an emergency dentist?

Amelia – California


You have two questions here. It doesn’t require an emergency dentist, but because he has them so often, he does need to have an oral exam.

Canker sores aren’t cancer, but oral cancer spots can masquerade as canker sores. True canker sores generally clear up within two weeks. Any that last longer than that should certainly be looked at.

It’s concerning that your husband can’t eat. There are over-the-counter gels you can get to give him some relief. There are even pads that can cover the sores but, in all honestly, it’s hard to keep those on the sore due to the moist nature of the inside of our mouths.

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Medical Marijuana and Dental Emergencies

I have a prescription for medical marijuana which I use for anxiety. I broke a tooth and will be booking with an emergency dentist in a couple of days and will be utilizing my prescription in the meantime. I am curious to know if this will matter to the emergency dentist. Can he refuse to treat me? If so, is there harm in not telling him? I know many people are progressive these days, but there is still a stigma with some.



Dear Tom,

The situation will likely be handled differently from one emergency dentist to another. From a medical standpoint, there can be complications if you have marijuana in your system during your appointment. Because marijuana varies in strength and there’s no way to know how much you’re taking in, nor how much will be in your system at the time of the appointment, it can be a recipe for disaster.

Some studies have shown that marijuana use before receiving epinephrine can make your heart beat abnormally fast or cause peripheral vasodilation. If you already have anxiety, it can create a dangerous, if not deadly, situation. Most of the time, the dentist will use a local anesthetic with epinephrine, though if he is aware that it is contraindicated, he will use something else.

Moreover, if your tooth needs an extraction and the dentist wants to give you pain medication for afterward, your existing prescriptions and over-the-counter medications will be taken into account. Because everything works together differently, he will need to take great care to ensure anything he gives you is safe.

Yes, there is still some stigma in certain circles, but that is something you’ll have to tackle head-on for the sake of your health and safety. You can always call more than one emergency dentist and let them know what medications you are taking in advance, just to see how they react.

Bear in mind, dentists treat patients from all walks of life, and most doctors have had a patient or two who used marijuana before it legalized in any fashion. Typically, it is treated as any other medication, though you’re still likely to hear about some of the dental side-effects of marijuana use, such as dry mouth and an increased risk for cavities. Take heart when you hear these messages, because you may learn how to prevent some dental woes, even if you continue to make use of your prescription.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. John Theriot.

Was My Emergency Dentist Incompetent?

I’m really disappointed after seeing the emergency dentist yesterday. I knew I was neglecting a filling. It was diagnosed about a year ago. I mentioned it to them when I called, but I also told them that I thought it was the tooth next to it that was bothering me now. They told me to come in and they’d take care of it. I assumed that meant were going to do the fillings I went in for the visit and he ran a couple of “tests,” which basically amounted to him hitting the teeth with his mirror a few times, which really hurt. He knew it would because I told them they hurt. He tells me that I need a filling, but not on the tooth that I already knew needed a filling, so I asked about the one with a cavity and he looked again and said I was right. He then says that I need to come back to have the fillings done. Well, I’m still in pain and the emergency dentist did nothing. I can’t help but wonder if he was in a hurry since it was the end of the day and, if he was in a hurry, could he have missed an infection? Maybe this isn’t the most competent dentist.


Dear Jeff,

It is concerning he didn’t catch the second infection until you said something. I can understand why this makes you doubt his abilities. He likely was in a hurry, as you surmised. I’m also concerned he didn’t give you anything for the pain.

Infections are usually obvious. If you had x-rays and an exam, it would be very difficult to miss. Cavities can cause some pretty strong tooth pain, especially if they are deep. It doesn’t always mean that there is an infection or that the teeth need root canals.

As far as the tests go, the doctor was probably trying to determine which teeth were bothering you the most. Sometimes teeth refer pain to their neighbors or teeth can be cracked and cause pain.

Going forward, I’d either call your dentist or a different emergency dentist if you don’t have one and explain what is going on. You’ll need to have those fillings done as soon as possible. Try to schedule an early appointment, if possible.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. John Theriot.

Can I See An Emergency Dentist If I’m Coming Down Off Meth?

I’m coming down off of meth and realized my front tooth is loose. I don’t know what happened. If I go to an emergency dentist, will he turn me in. I usually stay away from outsiders for a while after talking it.

Name Withheld.

I’m sorry you’re having a hard time. It would be a terrible feeling not remembering what happened. I can’t tell you with a 100% certainty, but I’m pretty certain you’re safe to go to the dentist.

Most emergency dentists care about patients. That’s why they are willing to see even non-established patients after normal hours.

My suggestion would be just to make sure if you’re still high when you get there, that you have a ride home and the dentist is aware you won’t be driving under the influence of drugs.

I’d also be sure to tell him or her exactly what you’ve taken, so they are able to make sure they don’t give you anything that would have an interaction.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. John Theriot.

Need Advice About A Root Canal During Pregnancy

I’m in my second trimester. I’ve tried to have kids for years and, after four miscarriages, finally have a pregnancy that looks like it will make it.  Now I find out I need a root canal. I didn’t let my dentist do the treatment, because I was worried about the effect on my baby. I wanted to do some research first.  What do you recommend?

Dennie R. – Denver


I can understand your concern and it does show that you will be a good mother. You want to do what is best for your child, regardless of the pain it will cause you, and I’m sure you’re in pain.

Let me put your mind at ease. Especially in the second trimester it is safe for you to have a root canal treatment. In fact, it will be better for your child if you do.  There is more risk to your child if you leave the infection untreated, as it will only get worse.

Your main concerns are likely antibiotics and an x-ray.  No single x-ray will do damage to your child, but you can ask for a lead apron.  Also, there are antibiotics that are safe to use during pregnancy.

Talk to your dentist about the precautions you’d like to take. I’m sure he or she will work with you.

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Why would a dentist refer me to a neurologist?

I went to an emergency dentist for pain. He said there was nothing wrong with me and referred me to a neurologist. Does he think there’s something wrong with my mind?

Amanda L – Michigan


I don’t think he’s trying to tell you the pain is all in your head if that’s what you’re worried about. There are legitimate medical reasons for checking with a neurologist. The reason that stand out to me most is to have the neurologist check to see if it’s a nerve issue. Sometimes we can have referred pain from another area.

If you went to an emergency dentist because it was after hours and your dentist doesn’t do after hour visits, then I might see your regular dentist before going to a neuro appointment.

He can do some x-rays and give a second opinion. It could be the emergency dentist missed something.

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My dentist was on something

I have a problem. The last time I went to see my dentist he went bezerko. It was honestly like he was on something. I had to leave the appointment. Even his staff was apologizing. I haven’t had time to look for a new dentist since then, but now I’ve got a problem. I bit down on something and something serious happened to my tooth. I’m in serious pain all of a sudden, where I wasn’t before. What do I do? I can’t go back to my old dentist. The last appointment was freaky frightening.

Fran – San Francisco


That must have been a disturbing experience. Have you spoken with the staff since then to see what was going on?  From what you’ve said, that behavior took you by surprise, so it doesn’t sound like a typical thing. However, I understand you wanting a new dentist.

If I were in your place, I’d see an emergency dentist. They’ll see non-patients in emergency situations like yours. That tooth needs to be looked at soon.

The upside is, you will either have found a new dentist, if you like him or her, or you will have eliminated a possibility and can move on to the next person on your list.

Don’t put off being seen.

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Will the bonding the emergency dentist gave me last?

I fell and chipped a tooth pretty badly. I saw an emergency dentist. He said the tooth was fine and put some composite filling on it to make sure the chip was fixed.  Will that last or is it a temporary fix and I need to see my regular dentist?

Emily S. – Utah


The composite resin the emergency dentist used is a standard treatment for a chipped tooth using dental bonding and that itself will last for a while. I’m wondering what he did to determine the tooth itself was fine. You didn’t say anything about x-rays of the tooth structure.

If that wasn’t done I would certainly follow up with your dentist. To be honest, it’s probably a good idea to follow up either way. For instance, the blood flow to the tooth could have been cut off, which wouldn’t show up on an x-ray.  One of the signs this is happening would be discoloration of the tooth, but the tooth will die and you’ll need a root canal to take care of it.

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My crown keeps falling out

I got my first dental crown. It fell out. That’s happened before a few weeks ago, but my dentist was able to put it back in quickly. This time he’s on vacation and I don’t know what to do. Can you advise?

Jessica J. – Montana


This is not normal. A dental crown shouldn’t fall out once, let alone twice. Plus, your dentist should have another dentist on call when he’s gone on vacation for emergency situations just like yours.

Because he doesn’t, I want you to call an emergency dentist . This will work out to your benefit, because at least this way you’ll get a crown that stays in.

Hopefully, you’ll like this new dentist and will have found a new one, because I’m pretty sure your old one is useless.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA dentist Dr. John Theriot.