Tag Archives: dental infection

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.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Is My Sinus Infection Healing

I had a tooth extracted. Apparently, when that happened he perforated my sinus. We didn’t discover that until a few days after the extraction when I developed a nasty discharge, as well as some nasty swelling and pain. My dentist put me on augmentin for a week. That did help with the swelling. When that was done, my dentist did a CT scan to check everything and it showed that I have a horrible infection in my sinus cavity. So, he put me on azithromycin. That seemed to improve things, but it is finished now and I am worried that I need to see an ENT or something. Is this being handled okay?


Dear Tina,

Man holding his jaw in pain

You have been very helpful in describing this. You have had two infections which is why they had to treat you twice. You did not mention if they closed up the sinus perforation. If it is a small perforation it will not take much to close it up. However, the infection will need to be completely gone and it sounds like you still have some of your infection left.

I’m going to suggest two things. This is not a dental emergency, but it does need to be dealt with. First, You would probably do well to get some Flonase as well, if you still have any inflammation. This is a cortical steroid that will help reduce the inflammation. Secondly, you need to call your dentist back and tell him the infection is still there. You need a second round of your antibiotic. You’ll want the infection completely gone. If you leave it untreated, it will become an emergency situation.

Your dentist hasn’t done anything wrong, but he still needs to be aware of the situation.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Is My Dentist Trying to Scare Me?

I went to my dentist after saving up for a while because I don’t have dental insurance. During the appointment, he told me I had a tooth infection. I knew my tooth had been hurting which is why I started saving to begin with, but the tooth stopped hurting. He wanted to schedule a follow-up appointment right away, but I don’t have money for two appointments. I told him I’d have to get back with him. That’s when he told me if I put it off, that the infection could kill me by getting to my heart, brain, or lungs. Is this true or is he just trying to scare me to get me to come back?


Dear Amy,

Let’s start with why your tooth stopped hurting. When your infection first set in, there was pain. As the infection progressed, however, the pulp of your tooth died so it stopped hurting. Unfortunately, that didn’t end the infection. It is continuing to spread.

As to your dentist trying to scare you, I can’t tell you exactly how urgent your particular infection is because I haven’t examined you. What your dentist said is true. Tooth infections can spread to your heart, lungs, and brain. Believe it or not, people still die from dental infections. This is why tooth infections are considered dental emergencies.

As I said earlier, I didn’t examine you so I can’t tell you how advanced your infection is. It may be that he felt you weren’t taking the situation seriously enough so he wanted to impress upon you not to just ignore this.

I understand that money is a challenge. COVID has made it nearly impossible for many people to keep up with their dental care. One thing I know about dentists is that many of them are compassionate and went into their field with a desire to help people.

The first thing I would do is explain to your dentist your financial situation and how long it took you to save up for your appointment. Make sure he understands that you are taking it seriously but that you are in a difficult financial situation. He may offer to give you the treatment you need and then allow you to pay off the cost of treatment over time. If he doesn’t, there are dentists that will. Just call around. You will find someone.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Is Every Toothache a Dental Emergency?

I’ve been reading about toothaches online because my daughter is complaining about a back tooth. Everyone seems to indicate that any time there is a toothache, it means a dental infection. Is that ALWAYS the case? I’m in a tough spot. At the moment there is only $35 dollars in my bank account. I don’t want to leave my daughter in danger, but I don’t know how to pay for the appointment. The tooth she is complaining about is in the back of her mouth. I would be surprised if it developed an infection because I had those teeth sealed and her last checkup had an all-clear.


Dear Cassie,

child getting teeth attended to

While in most cases a toothache can indicate a tooth infection, it is not so in EVERY case. You didn’t mention how long it had been since her last check-up. So it is hard to tell if it was close enough where you should not be too concerned.

I recently spoke with someone in a situation such as yours. Her daughter was complaining about a back tooth. Like you, this mother was responsibile and caring, so she worried about the potential of an infection. However, when she took her daughter in, the tooth was perfectly clear. The conclusion was that her daughter, who struggles with anxiety, had been clenching her teeth. This lead to the pain her daughter was experiencing.

In her case, the solution was to get a mouth guard. She couldn’t afford a custom one at the time. So, as a temporary solution, they purchased a one-sized fits all one at their local pharmacy for just a few dollars. While not ideal, it will do in a pinch while she saves up for the better device.

Because there is no way to know without checking, I would simply recommend calling your dentist and explaining the situation. Most dentists are compassionate and went into their field because they wanted a job that allowed them to help people. As you already have a working relationship with this dentist, they may be willing to just take an x-ray and peak in order to see what is going on and allow you to pay off the appointment a little at a time. This is especially true of dentists who see children.

At least this way you will know what your daughter is dealing with. If it is a tooth infection, then it would be considered a dental emergency. This is simply because these infections will continue to spread until the infected pulp is physically removed by the dentist.

Many people don’t realize that these infections can become life-threatening because of their proximity to the brain, heart, and lungs.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Popcorn Kernel Leads to open Heart surgery

Adam Martin in recovery. Photo courtesy of SWNS

I saw an article yesterday that emphasized how quickly things can turn dangerous with a dental issue. You can read the article in its entirety here, but I will sum it up.

Adam Martin, a 41-year-old man in the United Kingdom, had a popcorn kernel stuck in his tooth. He’d tried various ways to remove it with no success. Soon afterward, he started feeling sluggish. He thought is he was coming down with something. It quickly escalated and he took a trip to the hospital.

After some diagnostics they realized a tooth infection had quickly spread to his heart and ate away at his valves. He now required emergency open-heart surgery.

When Adam spoke to reporters, he said, “If I had gone to the dentist in the first place, none of this would have happened.”

Dental Infections Can Lead to Death

Your teeth and gums have direct and short pathways to your heart, lungs, and brain. Tooth infections and gum disease can cause serious problems, just as they did for Mr. Martin.

If you have tooth pain, it often means you have a tooth infection. It needs to be checked out as soon as possible. Most dentists reserve time for dental emergencies, such as an abscessed or broken tooth. You simply need to call your office and let them know what is going on.

Preventative Care Saves Money

I know dental care can sometimes seem expensive, but did you know NOT going actually costs you more money? Going to the dentist just twice a year prevents most cavities, especially if you are following up with good home care practices.

If you do happen to get a cavity, it is caught early. A small composite filling costs significantly less than letting it grow and needing a dental crown, which costs hundreds of dollars more. If you let it grow from there, you’re also talking about a root canal treatment or possibly even an extraction and dental implant. That is thousands of dollars more.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. Mike Malone.