Broken tooth. What are my options?
September 9, 2012 9:47 PM   Subscribe

I broke a tooth I had a root canal done on. Haven't been to the dentist in years. What can they do?

I have very good dental hygiene, but yes - I know I need to go to the dentist. Especially now..

I had a root canal done on my left premolar tooth back in 2006. The tooth recently broke. It pretty much split right down the middle. There's not much of the tooth left. And I'm assuming since I had a root canal done there, I'm not feeling any pain.

I haven't been to the dentist because I had a bad experience before. I won't get into too much detail but it involves the dentist not speaking very good english (my parents speak spanish and it was the only one they could afford) and there wasn't much communication at all. Also, I have a fear of being lectured by the dentist. My teeth are in good shape but still, I feel like I'd still feel embarrassed. I really want to get this fixed though because even though the tooth isn't entirely visible, it's affecting my self-esteem.

What would be the options? I looked up dental implants but it looks like something that would take multiple visits and would cost a lot of money. And could possibly be painful.

I don't know if I just want him to take the rest of the tooth out and just leave it at that. Having a missing tooth would make me feel incredibly self-concious.
posted by morning_television to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
the last time i had a root canal, it was supposed to be the first part of a two-part process. first the root canal, then the cap or implant or whatever. but the guy who did the root canal was super fricking awesome - for the "temporary" reconstruction of the affected tooth he built up almost half a tooth out of this special cement they use - and that was 1 year ago. not a peep out of it since then. so, my vote would be to go back to the guy who did the root canal, ask him to take a look, and maybe throw in there that you'd probably be ok for a while on a temporary crown, you think. or just get a "bridge" (kind of ugly) or an implant (beautiful and bulletproof but expensive).
posted by facetious at 9:53 PM on September 9, 2012

Relax, this is probably pretty simple. You will likely get a crown, which is an incredibly common procedure. Don't go back to a dentist that made you uncomfortable. Look for online reviews or ask friends for a recommendation, and don't be afraid to move on to another dentist if you aren't happy with your first choice. If you have insurance, stay in your network. If you don't, see if the costs are negotiable. You may get told that you should see a dentist more regularly, but few decent, modern dentists will "lecture" you. Just get it done.
posted by sageleaf at 10:13 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

This just happened to me a few months back. I had a root canal that was never crowned, and then it split. Didn't feel a thing, but well, I was essentially missing 3/4 of a tooth. YMMV, but basically it went down like this for me:

* Went to dentist. He looked at it, and decided although it broke below the gum line, the tooth was salvagable. He also asked the other dentist in the office (his mentor) if that was the right thing to do, and he agreed. The other option was to pull the tooth (a back molar) and get an implant later if i wanted. This is what I (like you) assumed was going to happen going in but what do I know, I'm not a dentist :)

* Because of how my tooth broke, I had to have a crown lengthening. (Warning, kinda icky pic.) This was the least fun, but manageable. My root canals were worse. This was my second appointment.

* Third appointment, after a couple weeks went by to let the gum heal, I had the tooth prepped and the crown impressions made (described here) and was sent home with a temporary crown. This visit wasn't so bad.

* Fourth and final visit, I had the crown put on. Easy peasy. With my crown there have been no complications, the thing looks better than the original tooth, and the only thing I wish was that I had bothered to get it done when I should have, before the tooth broke.

Overall, the crown lengthening and crown weren't exactly cheap, but a heck of a lot cheaper than an implant, and I'm happy with how it all went down. It's my understanding the crown needs to happen on any root-canalled tooth eventually anyway.
posted by cgg at 10:18 PM on September 9, 2012

Good answers above, just wanted to say please don't procrastinate on getting it taken care of for too long, because broken teeth like that tend to get infected.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:05 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had a root-canalled tooth split. I kind of ignored since I am a bit of a coward; it split down to the root and got infected. I had to have the tooth pulled. Get to the dentist, they may be able to just crown the tooth.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 11:43 PM on September 9, 2012

I had a tooth split recently, and in spite of good oral hygiene, an infection formed. Worst pain of ever. So please - find a dentist (I found mine with online reviews) to take a look at it.

I am on the implant path. Tooth was pulled, now waiting for the first 'anchor' part of the implant. Can confirm that it is expensive - looks like it will total about $3.5 to $4K when it's all done. Periodontist assures me that the worst of the pain part is over; that setting the anchor won't be as uncomfortable as the extraction was.
posted by agentmitten at 4:10 AM on September 10, 2012

I went to the dentist for the 1st time in 6 yrs last Friday and it was fine - having always had good oral health I had let things slip a bit and between dentist moving, me moving etc all of a sudden it had been six years.........

Anyway, I got a shortish lecture that despite the my good general oral health I should be having check ups once a year which was less frequent than most people get away with but in view of the fact that there was no damage to my teeth after six years I should aim for that...and that was just get a recommendation from friends or colleagues and make an appointment!
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:47 AM on September 10, 2012

I had a root canaled tooth break about two years ago. I had the remaining tooth bits pulled, which took all of three minutes, no exaggeration. I now have an empty space where the tooth was because the tooth that remained was too damaged for a post and crown and I could not afford an implant. The dentist counseled against leaving the space empty but broke is broke.
posted by crankylex at 8:27 AM on September 10, 2012

Response by poster: wow. $3.5K for a dental implant? that's insane. i don't have that kind of money, let alone dental insurance. i might have to just get it pulled because i don't see how a dentist would be able to fit a crown on. meeeh
posted by morning_television at 2:58 PM on September 10, 2012

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