Tag Archives: Tooth Infection

A Dental Infection with No Money

I am in misery. I have a couple of missing teeth, which is bad enough. Now I have an infection in one of the teeth I do have. It is making me miserable. My cheek is swollen. The problem is I was laid off and have no medical or dental insurance. Is there anything I can do to deal with this?


Dear Misty,

Woman holding her jaw in pain

I am sorry for all you are going through. With your cheek swollen, it tells me that your tooth infection is quite advanced. In fact, it is a dental emergency.  Treating this with antibiotics alone will not solve your problem. You will feel better for a short time and then the infection will expand rapidly.

The danger here is that it will spread to your brain. It can even reach your throat and close off your breathing.

I know you do not have money, but there are places that are willing to help you. I would call your local dental society and ask if there are clinics that will see patients in your situation,

If they can’t help you, I suggest you call around to some local dentists. Most dentists went into their field because they wanted to help people. I feel certain if you explain your situation there will be a dentist willing to help.

They can give you the emergency treatment you need and then allow you to pay it out as you are able.

Ideally, you should get a root canal treatment, which could save the tooth. If you can’t then the next option is a tooth extraction. The problem with that is that then you will need to replace the tooth, which is another expense. But, an extracted tooth is better than a serious tooth infection that can kill you.

Please call the dental society.

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

Can I Take Xanax Before My Dental Appointment

I am not being melodramatic when I tell you that I am terrified of the dentist. I haven’t gone in years because of that, but now I have a tooth which is in so much pain that I can’t focus or sleep. I know I need to go see a dentist. Half my face is swollen going all the way up to my eyeballs. I’m worried, but my anxiety about going is still strong. Would it be okay if I took a Xanax before my appointment in order to help relax me?


Dear Greta,

A woman grabbing her jaw in pain, in need of emergency dental care

I am sorry for your pain as well as the fear you face when thinking about the dentist. Often, when someone has this level of anxiety, it is a result of experiencing some dental trauma earlier in their life. If you have properly prescribed Xanax, you can take it before your appointment. However, you need to let your dentist know ahead of time that you’ve taken it because it will affect what types of numbing medication he or she can give you.

Because you are in so much pain, and especially because of the swelling you are seeing, I would consider this a dental emergency. It doesn’t sound like you have a regular dentist, given your experiences. So I would do an internet search for someone who sees non-established patients in cases of emergencies. Doing a search for for an emergency dentist will help you find them.

While you are searching, I do think you should look for a sedation dentist. This could solve all of your anxiety issues and you would not even need any Xanax.

Whatever you do, please don’t put off getting the treatment you need here. The swelling that has gone up to your eye means that your infection is spreading. You do not want it to reach your brain. Then a simple tooth infection will become life threatening.

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

Do I REALLY Need a Root Canal Treatment?

I want some advice from you. I am six months pregnant. A few weeks ago, I went to see the dentist for a normal cleaning and check-up. I didn’t do any x-rays because of the baby. He said he found a small cavity, but not to worry, it was so small that I wouldn’t need any Novocaine. He was going to do a silver filling, but I heard those have mercury in them so I told him I would only do the white fillings that don’t have mercury. He said the danger of silver fillings was overblown, but I insisted so he gave in. Now, I’m having sensitivity to that tooth, especially to cold. I went back in for him to look at it and he said that it needs a root canal treatment. How can it go from being such a small filling it doesn’t need Novocaine to now needing a root canal in just a few short weeks? Obviously, if I have an infection I need to deal with it, but I don’t want any unnecessary procedures while I am pregnant. How would you advise me?


Dear Kelsey,

Pregnant woman at the dentist before treatment

You have a right to be suspicious of the advice you are getting for several reasons. If there is a cavity, it means the decay is in the dentin. That would need Novocaine. Then, all of a sudden this super small cavity needs a root canal treatment? Yeah, you need a second opinion.

While you are correct that if the tooth is infected you will need treatment, based on what you have said, I think the most likely culprit is the filling itself.

You mentioned your dentist generally does silver amalgam fillings. The procedure for white composite fillings is completely different. My guess is that filling was not properly placed and that is what is causing your sensitivity.

I would like you to see a mercury-free dentist to have this looked at and done correctly. They will be amply skilled with composite fillings. By the way, I do not think this is the best dentist for you. He is not keeping up in his field. Composite fillings should be the standard at this point. I think it is time you look for a new dentist.

On the off chance it turns out you do need a root canal treatment, you can ask for Lidocaine instead of Novocaine. This is used safely during both pregnancy and delivery, which will put your mind at each about any medication going into your body during the procedure.

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

She Shouldn’t Trust This Dentist

I am going to be honest and up front with you that I am not the best dental patient. Being in the dental chair makes me nervous in the best of circumstances so I tend to avoid dental work as much as possible. This is likely why this happened to me. I was in a lot of pain for about a week and finally caved to see a dentist. He did some x-rays and found a problem with a tooth that already had a filling. He told me there is very little chance that he can save the tooth and I should expect him to have to extract the tooth. From there, he wants to provide a dental implant. I’ll be honest that this whole thing sort of terrifies me. Is there another option?


Dear Kelly,

A woman grabbing her jaw in pain, in need of emergency dental care

Please bear in mind that I haven’t examined your tooth so I can only go on what you’ve described. However, based on what you’ve said, I have my doubts about this dentist’s diagnosis.

If a tooth was truly that far gone, I don’t think your dentist would have even needed to take an x-ray. The decay would have been evident to the naked eye.

Even if it was under the filling, that extensive amount of an infection means the filling would have caved in or fallen out at that point.

Another issue is that type of dental infection takes a LONG time to develop. You would have been in a significant amount of pain for substantially longer than a week.

Before moving forward, I would like you to get a second opinion from another dentist. It could save you some unnecessary dental work. I do realize the idea of seeing another dentist probably doesn’t sound much better to you, but I believe I have a solution to that as well.

Your fears of the dentist are not at all uncommon. There are many people who struggle with fear of the dentist. Those who visit a dentist who offers some type of sedation tend to have an easier go of things.

When you get your second opinion, I’d like you to not tell the dentist what your first diagnosis was. Just allow him to look at your tooth and form his own opinion.

If Your Tooth Cannot Be Saved

Hopefully, your tooth is saveable. However, if it isn’t, the one thing I agree with the dentist you saw was his choice of tooth replacement. If you do have to replace a tooth, dental implants are the absolute best replacement. This surgically implants a prosthetic tooth root then attaches a crown to it. It is the closest thing to having a healthy natural tooth again.

Another option is a dental bridge. This suspends a false tooth between two dental crowns. It doesn’t require surgery. However, it does mean you have to crown the two adjacent teeth. Unless those teeth already need a crown then I don’t recommend grinding down healthy tooth structure.

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

Antibiotics for Tooth Infection

I had a severe toothache and went to see a new dentist. My regular one closed permanently shortly after the quarantine started. He was close to retirement anyway. This dentist gave me an antibiotic that I was taking three times a day. My tooth started to get better, but now has gotten worse. What do I do now? I have never had this happen before.


Dear Alice,

Woman grabbing her jaw in pain needing an emergency dentist

I hope your new dentist didn’t think giving you an antibiotic was enough. He should have scheduled a follow-up appointment with you to have a root canal treatment. If he didn’t, that is a real problem.

An antibiotic is useful to hold off an infection until you are able to have the treatment you need. However, it does not heal the tooth. The only way to do that is for the dentist to get in there and physically remove the infected pulp.

If the tooth can be saved, you would do that with a root canal treatment and many times a dental crown will need to be placed as well. If the tooth can’t be saved, then you’d need a tooth extraction.

It is a bad sign that the infection started to get better and then progressed again. This is a dental emergency and needs to be seen right away.

If You Lose the Tooth

My guess is you will still be able to save the tooth. If, however, you get back in and it isn’t possible, then the tooth will have to be extracted to keep the infection from spreading. Dental infections can turn life-threatening.

When a tooth is extracted, it is important to replace it. If you don’t, the other teeth will shift and tip into the open space, which will throw off your bite. In some cases, it can lead to TMJ Disorder and daily jaw pain and migraines.

Hopefully, this dentist didn’t cost you a tooth.

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

antibiotics for a Tooth infection

I had a painful tooth and went in to see a dentist. He said it is infected and placed me on some antibiotics, I think it was amoxicillin. It did get better at first but now I think it is back and my face is starting to swell. Did I need a different antibiotic?


Dear Casey,

A man holding his jaw in pain in need of a dentist

Is it possible your dentist asked you to schedule a follow-up appointment and it slipped your mind? The reason I am asking this is antibiotics alone are not the correct treatment for a tooth infection. They are often prescribed to keep the infection at bay until the dentist has time to deal with the infection itself. This is usually done with a root canal treatment. They’ll often cover the tooth with a porcelain crown as well.

Here is the problem with antibiotics. Once the infection gets serious the pulp inside the tooth dies. When that happens, there is no longer blood flow in the tooth. That means the antibiotic can no longer reach the source of the infection.

It will keep it from spreading for a time, but eventually, the antibiotics run out. With the source of the infection still viable, it begins to spread again. This is what is happening to you.

Don’t Mess With Dental Infections

Don’t mess with this. You mentioned your face is starting to swell. I would consider this a dental emergency. you need to see a dentist who is willing to treat this today.

Believe it or not, there are still people who die from tooth infections. Think about how close your jaw is to your brain, heart, and lungs. If you let the infection get that far, it turns life-threatening quickly.

If your dentist didn’t plan on doing anything other than the antibiotics, that is a serious concern. It would mean he doesn’t have a real understanding of how dental infections work. That is the bare basics when it comes dental care. In my opinion, if that is the case you need to find a new dentist.

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

Is It Normal to Get a Pimple on Your Gums?

I’ve got a pimple on my gums. I’m worried about it. My husband says I’m overreacting, that it’s just a pimple. But, I’ve never heard of a pimple on gums and it hurts. Is this normal?

Danya L.

Dear Danya,

Emergency Dental Care

You’re right to be concerned. This is more serious than a simple pimple. It’s likely one of two things. First, it could be the beginnings of a canker sore and just resembles a pimple. This won’t be very large, but it will “open up” and start to resemble a canker sore rather soon.

This is not an emergency, but you will want to attend to it. Salt water rinses will help, along with over the counter pain relievers. It should clear up within two weeks. If it doesn’t, see your dentist for an oral tissue exam. Sometimes oral cancer resembles a canker sore. Your dentist examines you for this at every check-up. If you’re diligent with your check ups, the canker sore is the more likely scenario.

If it truly resembles a full-sized pimple, then it is most likely a fistula. This is filled with puss, so don’t pop it. You won’t like the taste. A fistula means you have an active tooth infection. This needs to be seen right away. In fact, if you don’t have a regular dentist, you need to see an emergency dentist. They’ll work you in sooner than most dentists even if you’re not an established patient.

There are a number of possible treatment options here depending on why the bacteria is pooling. If the tooth is cracked and leaking bacteria into the gums, then you’ll need a dental crown. If it’s in a visible place then you’ll want to be sure to get an all-porcelain crown. They look completely natural. If there’s an infection, it’s possible to need a root canal treatment.

Either way, you don’t want to put off treatment. The infection will spread. The quicker it’s treated, the less invasive the procedure will need to be.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

Pain with a CEREC crown

I had four CEREC crowns put on back teeth. One of them is causing horrible pain when I bite. I’ve been back to my dentist a couple of times.  He shaved it, but it didn’t get any better. He thinks it is because of the way I chew.  Wouldn’t that have been causing pain before I had the crown put in? Isn’t it more likely that it is because I got a CEREC crown instead of a regular one?

Dennis L. – Maine


I don’t think it is because of your bite or because of the CEREC crown. In fact, because CEREC crowns are milled by a computer, there is less chance of the crown being a problem.  When you have pain when biting a crown, there are generally one or two reasons that is the cause:

1. The bite can be too high. I don’t suspect this is your case because you’ve already been back twice. Surely your dentist would have noticed that. I’m sure he’s adjusted your bite.

2. The other reason is an infection. Your dentist can do an x-ray and it will tell you if that is the case.

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


Tooth pain with Invisalign

I am on my fifth set of aligners with invisalign. I’m having pretty bad tooth pain. My dentist wondered if I could have a leaky filling. He wants to remove it and put in a temporary filling to see how it does. Do you think this is OK?

Brenda L.- Washington


There could be a few things going on. First, and a very probable one, is uncomfortableness from orthodontic work. Whenever you are moving your teeth, it doesn’t matter if you’re using Invisalign or traditional metal braces, your teeth can become painful because of sensitivity to pressure. Your teeth are shifting and then have to reform the bone over the tooth root.

A second possible reason for the pain in your tooth is what your dentist is suggesting. You could have a defective filling. It is not uncommon for amalgam (silver) fillings to begin to crack and leak.  He’ll put a temporary filling in and seal your teeth better. In a fair amount of time it will feel better, if that was the problem.

A third reason could be that your tooth is infected. You may want your dentist to do an x-ray to eliminate an infection.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette Louisiana dentist Dr. Mike Malone.

Pressure Around Front Crown

About 4 months ago, one of my upper front teeth broke when I fell on the floor during a badminton game. Luckily, my dentist managed to perform a root canal treatment and then placed a post to strengthen the tooth. I have another crowned tooth done 20 years ago next to the broken tooth and there was a black line at the gum level due to receding gum. The two front teeth were quite protruding. My dentist suggested to re-crown the old crowned tooth together with the placement of a porcelain crown over the broken tooth and he could angle the two teeth downwards to make them not so prominent. They were done and the two teeth are not so protruding.

After nearly 4 months, I still feel pressure around the two teeth and I feel uncomfortable. My dentist kept saying that the pressure will go away but I am doubtful. I also have 4 other teeth that were crowned a few years ago and they did not give me problems immediately after being crowned. I don’t understand why the two front crowned teeth keep giving me this under pressure feeling around them. I could floss between them, although it feels tight and after flossing, the pressure will go away for a while and then come back again. Any anyone have advice on this?

Thanks, Tim

Dear Tim,

Sometimes teeth that receive a root canal have no symptoms after the treatment but there are in some cases where patients still feel some pressure and pain for several months. We recommend that you visit your dentist and have your teeth x-rayed where your root canal was performed to see if the tooth is infected. Another consideration is to have your dentist check your bite. It is a possibility that your crowns that were recently completed are hitting too hard on your bottom teeth which can cause the same type of symptoms that you are having. Make an appointment with your dentist to have him re-evaluate your teeth and if you feel your solution is still unresolved we recommend you visit an endodontist who specializes in root canal treatments for a second opinion.

Post courtesy of Dr. Malone, Lafayette Louisiana Cosmetic Dentist