I have had a crown on my right, lateral incisor for over 40 years. All those years ago, the dentist talked about a root canal. But, he never ended up needing to do one. At my last check up appointment, the dentist told me that now the tooth needs a root canal treatment. He said there is decay that has gotten underneath of the crown. It doesn’t hurt or anything and it isn’t showing any signs of infection.
Well, the dentist tried to do a root canal through the back of the crown. He was struggling big time! After two hours, he gave up. He told me that the canal is calcified and he cannot find it. So, he put a temporary filling in the crown and said he will refer me to an endodontist to get the root canal done. When I called the endodontist, he booked me out four weeks since I wasn’t in pain and there was no sign of infection.
Two weeks have passed, and my crown broke off. Even worse, some of the tooth came off with the broken crown. So, now I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford all of this expensive dental care and I’m wishing the original dentist would have just left it alone and not messed with it. What do you think I should do now? Is it safe to try to get the root canal done or am I better off with a dental implant at this point?
I am wondering if there is enough of the natural tooth left to do a new crown, which is what will be needed for a successful root canal, if I’m understanding all of it correctly. I went down the street to the pharmacy and am considering using some over-the-counter dental adhesive to reattach the crown.
I would welcome any advice you have on the situation. I don’t know what to do at this point, and am feeling frustrated at the situation.
Benjamin in Kentucky
Well, at this point it is understandable that you are feeling frustrated. And I’m guessing you are wondering, whose fault is it that the tooth broke off?
The dentist spent an incredible amount of time drilling the tooth and searching for the root canal with no luck. Two hours of drilling is pretty invasive for any patient, so it is likely that the tooth became even more weakened. That may indeed be the reason it broke off, from all the stress. Although, the blame cannot be entirely placed on the dentist, because we don’t know how much decay was under the crown or the integrity of the crown. Also, the endodontist didn’t do you any favors by scheduling the appointment out so far. In the meantime, there could have been some measures implemented to strengthen the tooth. Hopefully, the dentist has learned from your situation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it any easier for you now. It is possible the dentist would be willing to accept some of the responsibility to help you fix it. So, it would be in your best interest to ask about that possibility.
Since there is decay present under the crown, it sounds like the best course of action would be to remove any portion of the remaining crown. Then, the decay can be addressed, and a root canal would be much easier to locate. Even though you don’t feel any pain, it is possible that there is infection that penetrated the canal. So, without the old crown in place, it will be much easier to establish a baseline to see what is going on .
It is also important to realize that it is difficult to give you specific recommendations without having seen you in person. But, if the tooth is damaged or compromised, then it may be difficult to place a new crown. A dental implant is a legitimate option to replace the broken tooth. You mentioned that budget may be an issue. But, a dental implant is a permanent solution to replace a missing tooth.
Now, if you don’t have an aggressive bite that causes a lot of stress, then a dental post may be used to help support a crown. Even if there isn’t that much of the natural tooth left, it is possible that a post could help support it.
Thank you for reaching out with your story, and I’m sorry to hear you are having to go through all this. It is also important to mention at this point, that you may need to find a reputable implant dentist in your area. Most general or family dentists don’t have the necessary skills or training to successfully place a dental implant. Also, placing a post in your situation is also something that needs to be given special attention. The post would need to endure and support rotational forces, and that can also be tricky. Posts are round, and lateral incisors are also somewhat round, so if there is any twisting force, it may end up loosening the crown over time. All that to be said, it would be wise to get a second opinion, after meeting with an implant dentist so you can weigh out all your options.
Thank you for reaching out. Hopefully, this information will be helpful as you determine what the next steps are, and what is best for you.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Dr. Rick Lane.