Dental Update

My dentist had said tooth 15 and one other needed onlays, this after some major dental work last year. I was suspicious then and more so now and debated what to do. I did go for that 2nd opinion after all, to a dentist that is actually far closer to us than the other, but who still seemed like a used car salesman.

That aside, he gave a surprising diagnosis: tooth 14 was fine. A "virgin" tooth, as he called it. Entirely free of defect. But, he said, my dentist probably meant tooth 15, which did indeed have a crack. A small one, not one needing anything more than a filling. He'd recommend a small filling on that tooth, but could see that an onlay (as my dentist was prescribing) might work as well. The other tooth he recommended for a more severe treatment. A full crown instead of an onlay.

So, as long as my dentist mixed up his numbers a little, his treatment plan was A-OK.

I went back to my dentist to get the first (tooth 14/15) taken care of. I assumed he'd say something like, "Oh, oops! Wrong tooth number. Let's change that." But he didn't. So I asked, "Now which one are you working on? The one farthest back? (14)"

"Yup," he said, and explained that it was badly cracked and it was amazing it hadn't sheared in two yet.

"So it's not the one in front of that? (15)"

"Oh..." he looked again. "Why, do you feel a problem with it?"

"No, uh..." I didn't want to tell him I'd gotten a second opinion. He's sort of a wicked guy* sometimes and I really don't want him taking revenge on my mouth, thank you very much.

He said it did need some work, but nothing immediate, but this crack was a major one and needed to be fixed. If the tooth broke, it would be a root canal and crown for sure.

I insisted he take pictures, both x-rays and digital. He claimed a crack wouldn't show on x-ray, but took them anyway. Because he remembered as well as I did how some work done on Dr. D years ago had to be sent to the dental school before the insurance would cover it.

Still, I was torn. The other dentist said there was nothing wrong with this tooth at all! No crack, it had never had a filling, nothing. Yet here my dentist wanted to drill the side off of it and attach an onlay. Yet would he risk his practice for one silly onlay? Would he truly perform an unnecessary procedure?

I couldn't imagine that he would, so I had the work done. Now the insurance company is questioning it. But our insurance company questions a lot of things ...

And the second tooth? The 2nd opinion dentist pointed to the grayed tooth wall and said this really should have a full crown, that my dentist would be surprised by the extent of decay. I had a bad experience with a crown before (last year's root canal was because of a leaky crown), so I thought surely the onlay would be better. So I got that one done too, and the onlay was huge. I could tell my dentist was a little shocked by how deep he had to go to clean it out. He never mentioned crown, likely because a crown has to be made off-site (and he has to pay someone else to make it), while an onlay is made by a machine in his office.

I'm not sure a crown would have had a better outcome, but I haven't been able to bite on that side or tolerate hot or cold since.

We're so frustrated and torn up, again. This has to be the last visit with this dentist, but where to go now? How can you tell an honest doctor from a scam artist? The worst thing is that we all really like this guy as a person (despite his "wicked" side) and the kids actually look forward to going to the dentist. I'm just not looking forward to starting this search process, especially if I'm not 100% sure I need to.

*Recently been burglarized and told me of his "trap" that would involve nails and mutilation. Pretty ingenious idea, but not politically correct in the least!