A Dentist’s Second Opinion Saves Two Healthy Teeth
So the other day I met a lovely new patient named “Mary.” She came to my office for a second opinion because her new dentist was planning to extract what she believed to be “up until a day or two ago” two healthy front teeth. It’s fortunate that Mary sought a dentist’s second opinion. She was worried that she was being pressured into unnecessary tooth extractions and it turns out, she was right!
Mary arrived at my office and filled out the requisite paper work (oh, how we love the paper work!) and was escorted into the treatment room. As is my custom, I sat down with her with our chairs at equal heights to facilitate eye contact and make for more comfortable conversation. She was quite visibly upset and distressed by the visit to her dentist two days before. This is her story:
“I woke up in the morning with a lot of swelling in my gums and my front tooth was loose. My co-worker recommended her dentist to me and was I seen later that day. There are several dentists in the office, each a partner with different specialty (so I was told). They each had their turn examining me. I was then told that my loose tooth had to be extracted as well as the one next to it!!! I would need to have a permanent bridge made to replace them and the dentist who first examined me then proceeded to take impressions of my mouth for a temporary bridge. I left the office with a prescription for antibiotics and an appointment for treatment. The next day, one of the dentists called to confirm the diagnosis and prescribed treatment.”
Luckily, Mary’s sister is a dentist who practices on the west coast. Mary sent her a copy of the just taken X-rays and quite surprisingly there were no signs of infection or pathology. In fact, the tooth in question was nowhere to be seen on the images sent (poor X-ray technique or perhaps a convenient omission?)! Questions arose about the game plan. Phone calls were made back and forth between Mary, her sister, and the dental group, culminating in Mary cancelling the next appointment and putting a halt on the lab work for the planned temporary bridge.
So, the time had come for me to examine Mary’s X-rays and her mouth. What I found was rather shocking. There was no swelling in her gums to speak of, just some localized inflammation. The loose tooth did have some slight mobility but nothing alarming. The X-rays did not have a clear view of the “problem” area. (I took a few of my own images, which failed to reveal any obvious problems.) What I did find was a food remnant, like the skin of a grape, wedged in the gum of one of her heretofore “condemned” teeth.
No teeth needed to be extracted and the likely cause of the acute flare-up and symptoms including tooth looseness was a gingival abscess (a small localized gum infection) caused by the food entrapment. While Mary does require other dental treatment, she was clearly misdiagnosed, or even worse (dare I say it..oh what the hell, bamboozled into unnecessary treatment.) She will not be having any teeth removed any time soon and I just saw her for a follow-up appointment. All is well.
It saddens me and maddens me to think that there are health professionals who either don’t know what they’re doing or who are preying upon the innocence or even naiveté of the unsuspecting patient. Fortunately for Mary her gut instincts were right and she had the wherewithal to gather more information. And she has a sister who is a dentist.
As I said in a recent post, an educated patient makes for an informed patient and information is empowering. Curiously, while Mary found the first dentist by way of a personal recommendation, she found her way to my office through a Google search. She “Googled” her way to my office seeking advice!
It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion, especially when the recommended treatment involves the loss of a precious tooth.
Dr. Michael Sinkin is a NYC dentist that has been in practice for over two decades. He truly cares about the experience his patients have and takes great pride in making them feel relaxed and comfortable during every visit. Come in for an appointment and experience a different kind of dental practice. To find out more about Dr. Sinkin, please click here.