Did Our Pediatric Dentist Do Unnecessary Work?

I need some advice about a pediatric dental appointment we recently had. Previous to this, our son has been seeing our dentist but it wasn’t going well. He always had trouble sitting still and my dentist doesn’t really see children. It was just a temporary arrangement. We tried this pediatric dentist who said that there were a few cavities. We scheduled an appointment to take care of them using dental sedation, which went really well for our son. He doesn’t even remember the appointment. However, once it was over the assistant came out and told me that one of the cavities was so far along that they had to do a pulpotomy and place a dental crown. Was this really necessary? I feel like they did it without asking because it was not and they didn’t want me question them. How do I know whether it was necessary?


Dear Claire,

boy smiling with a toothbrush

Given the situation and your son’s wiggles (which are perfectly normal), I am guessing that the cavities were there and it is very likely that one of them had been there a while and spread to a dental infection. If that were the case, depending on which tooth it was, the pulpotomy and dental crown were necessary.

While most baby teeth can come out without a problem, back molars need to remain in place until your son is about twelve years old. If that tooth was infected then the dentist would need to deal with the infection using a pulpotomy if at all possible because he would want to save the tooth. If it wasn’t a back tooth, just extracting the tooth would be all that was necessary.

That being said, they should have spoken to you first. This is the one area where they can get in trouble for what they did. It is improper for them to do any work on your son without running it by you first. I would try having a conversation about that and let them know it is an expectation in the future. If they can’t do that, then you will need to find a different pediatric dentist.

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