Sore tooth-Dental question (not treatment advice)

Question: Do dental x-rays (digital ones) accurately reflect what is going on in a tooth? When you start working on a tooth, can the damage you find be worse than what is shown on the x-ray and what is visible on the tooth itself?

Back story:
Went to dentist Dec. 2007 for exam due to sore gums. Found to have moderate-severe gingivitis. Treated with Periolase. Since then: brushing teeth 2 times per day with electric toothbrush for 4 minutes each time, and using proxi-brush 2 times per day (she prefers proxi-brush over flossing) Progressive improvement in gum disease over this time. Every 3 months- sonic cleaning, salt-blasting, with variable, but decreasing, amounts of discomfort after the cleanings.

April 2010-Least amount of discomfort during and after cleaning since I have been seeing her. Yeah!! progress!! I’m doing good!! Routine x-rays show a “shadow-decreased enamel density(size not specified)” on one of my molar teeth Some darkening of the tooth surface, but no cavity. Advised I should get a filling to prevent further damage to the tooth-should not wait until it gets worse.

early May 2010- Filling done. She says it is “deep” and she put in some stuff to decrease pain and inflammation. Afterward, pain with eating and clenching teeth together. Check “bite”=adjust. Still problem, check “bite”=adjust. Now pressure on tooth in front of filled tooth, file that tooth. Now slight pressure on teeth in front to previously filed teeth. Still sore if I happen to forget and eat on that side.

4th of July- eating a piece of ham, start to bite down on filled tooth-Major pain lasting an hour. Take aleve for several days, better but still slightly sore. (Why still sore at all, 2 months after the filling ???) Don’t want to go back to dentist, don’t trust her anymore, never had problems with fillings ever before-get printout of x-rays.

Last Friday-don’t know what I did, worse pain in tooth. No gum redness or swelling or soreness so I don’t suspect abscess at the root. Stop eating any food that requires chewing. Saturday, in tears due to pain, pain along jaw up to ear. Talk to another dentist: 600 mg. Advil alternating with 1000 mg. Tylenol every three hours. I also add topical pain cream on skin of face over sore area. Finally some relief on Sunday. See this dentist on Monday, he looks at April 2010 x-ray printout, not sure, maybe, he sees the “shadow”. (“printout not as good as seeing the x-ray itself”, he says) He takes his own x-ray: Wow, that is a big, deep filling. See how close it is to the nerves. You have “pulpitis”-inflammation of nerve in tooth-will need root canal and crown to solve problems. Cost-just shy of $3,000 :eek:

I do not understand. How can I have that much damage and need such a large filling to a tooth that only has a “shadow-decreased enamel density” on the x-ray and yet have NO pain when she cleans and salt-blasts the tooth, and no pain with eating?

IANAD, but given the problems you had after the filling I’d say the first dentist did a bad job with it. As a minimum it was too big, but it also may be they didn’t do a good enough job of cleaning out the cavity after drilling and before filling.

dentist told me that a tooth is traumatized by doing a filing, larger and deeper is more likely chance. nerve damage, death and infection can result weeks later. who knows how many factors have to all happen for that result. ianad.

Google images of dental x-rays and teeth seem to indicate that the answer to the first question is “No”, and the answer to the second question is “Yes”

Now I just need to figure out what is the best way to deal with my current situation. A search of “Natural alternatives to root canals” really leads to some crazy sites. Conspiracy theories even in dentistry !!

I’ve had a root-canal four times… on the same tooth; it took 3 months, 2 doctors and 6 x-rays for them to realize the root wasn’t extracted completely. Apparently they sometimes “don’t show up”

Yeah, this actually happened to me. The dentist placed a filling, and warned me at the time that because the filling extended deep into the tooth, there was a very good chance that the tooth would eventually become painful and require a root canal. All was well for a couple of months, and then the tooth started to hurt like heck. The fix was a root canal and crown.