In August, my dentist put a crown over one of my upper right molars. The tooth was cracked and had an old silver filling in. The dentist had problems getting my tooth numb, so it felt like electric shocks when she was drilling.
When the dentist checked my bite with my crown, I told her that it was uncomfortable and hurt to bite down. She adjusted the crown twice while I was there. And when I still wasn’t happy with it, she told me to give it a couple of weeks. It hurt to floss around the crown. I gave it a couple of weeks, and nothing improved. In mid-October, I called the office again, complained, and insisted on a new crown. My dentist adjusted the crown instead and started talking about two more crowns that I needed.
I declined getting two more crowns until I knew that the first one was okay. My dentist asked me to wait two more weeks after adjusting to the crown. Shouldn’t a crown fit correctly when I leave the dental office? Anyway, the crown still wasn’t right, so I had another appointment with my dentist. She removed the crown and said I need root canal treatment. I am wondering if this is an issue my dentist should have noticed before placing a crown. Now she says that the tooth has a periapical abscess.
My dentist has not offered a refund or admitted that she misjudged the condition of my tooth. I want to get a refund before switching dentists. Do you have any advice? Bronwyn from Tennessee
Although Dr. Tostado would need to examine your tooth and see your x-rays for an accurate diagnosis, we will explain what we can, based on the information you gave us.
A cracked tooth with an old filling
When a tooth cracks, it often needs treatment in addition to a crown. If a tooth has internal damage, putting a crown over it won’t make the injury go away.
- A cracked tooth is t risk for root canal treatment.
- Some sensitivity after getting a crown is normal, but it shouldn’t linger. And you should not feel pain.
- A crown that is made and placed well will blend with your bit without you noticing it.
- Your dentist should have told you that you might need a root canal in the future.
Based on your conversation with your dentist, it seems that she was more concerned about completing all your dental work rather than getting it right.
But getting a refund, I think, is going to be tricky in your situation. To do that, you would need
Can You Get a Refund from Your Dentist?
It is possible to get a refund from your dentist if you can prove that your dentist didn’t meet the standard of care that she promised. You have several ways to try to get a refund. Although you may not have a case against your dentist for wanting to continue treatment with two more crowns, your new faulty crown might give you a good chance.
- A lawsuit – A lawsuit requires that you can prove your dentist’s negligence. Your description sounds like your dental was negligent, but the details you gave us aren’t enough to determine if she is liable. A malpractice or consumer rights attorney can decide that for you.
- Complain to the dental board – Although you can file a complaint, the Tennessee state dental board might consider your case as a dental procedure that went bad. Although it seems that your dentist doesn’t know how to adjust your bite, she did not drastically deviate from protocol.
- Online reviews – You can tell your dentist that you will leave negative online reviews about your experience. Check her current online reviews. If they are mostly positive, a negative review will concern her. Otherwise, it might not have an impact.
Periapical Abscess and Root Canal Treatment
A periapical abscess is a collection of pus at your tooth root that results from an infection. It means that the pulp—living tissue, vessels, and nerves—inside the tooth is dead. Dead nerves inside a tooth mean that you won’t feel any pain inside the tooth from root canal treatment.
But an upper molar tooth is more challenging to treat. An endodontist (root canal specialist) can treat your tooth, and you won’t need an extraction. If you ask a dentist to extract the tooth, you will need to replace it. Otherwise, your teeth will begin to drift, disrupt your bite, and possibly cause TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues. TMJ symptoms affect more than your teeth. Symptoms can include:
- Jaw stiffness, clicking, or pain
- Neck pain
- Painful talking, yawning, or chewing
- Tinnitus (ear ringing)
It seems that you are uncomfortable with your dentist. We recommend that you get a second opinion from a dentist with advanced training in occlusion and bite. The dentist will understand how to achieve harmony between your teeth so you can speak and eat comfortably.
And you may need a referral to a root canal specialist to save your tooth and avoid the need for a dental implant or partial denture.
We wish you the best. Please let us know the results.
Gilberto Tostado, DDS, of San Antonio, TX, sponsors this post.