Several months ago I had an abcess at one of my premolars. After taking antibiotics it went away. I was pregnant at the time and did not want any work done. It never hurt. A few weeks ago, the abcess came back, so I finally went to see a dentist (within two weeks from the recurence). The tooth did not hurt this time either. The dentist performed a “pulpotomy” (I am not sure I nedeed that procedure).
I went home and the tooth start hurting. He could see me only two days later and at that time he “cleaned up” some more. This time he gave me some antibiotics – for 7 days. 7 days later still hurts. More antibiotics for another 7. I am now 5 days later and still have pain – I don’t know if the infecton cleared up yet. Tomorrow I am scheduled to get a root canal. Should I get it while my tooth still hurts? Did I needed the “pulpotomy” in the first place? Thank you.
- Emily from Texas
With dental work, it’s especially important to be able to trust your dentist. The reason is that often you cannot tell when anything is wrong, and then problems that are put off are always more expensive to fix later, and can result in irreversible damage to your teeth. So far, from what you’ve told me, your dentist is treating you right. So hopefully you feel you can trust him. If not, find a dentist you feel you can trust.
Let me explain what is happening in your mouth. If a tooth is abscessed, antibiotics alone will not clear up the problem, they only help put off the symptoms. You see, infections are caused by dead or infected tissue inside the tooth. Antibiotics don’t get to the inside of your tooth when it is filled with dead tissue, because there is no blood circulation there. The abscess is caused by the tooth spewing bacteria out the end of the root. So the antibiotics will fight those bacteria but can’t ever eliminate the source because it’s protected inside the tooth.
And to answer your questions, yes, you did need the pulpotomy and yes you need the root canal treatment. Your tooth may continue to hurt until you get this done. The root canal treatment is to solve the pain, the abscess, by getting rid of the source of the infection. The tooth is carefully and thoroughly cleaned out and then is sealed.
I would have actually strongly recommended that you have the root canal treatment when you first discovered the abscess. While you want to avoid dental work during the first and third trimesters of a pregnancy, it’s worse for the baby if you have an infection in your body when you are pregnant. Now, after having waited this long, you are more likely to have complications from the deeply entrenched infection as your dentist tries to remove its source by doing a root canal. That’s probably why the infection seems now to be so resistant to the antibiotics. But get it done – the sooner, the better.
Follow-up: Read Emily’s response a week later.