Category Archives: Lafayette LA Dentist

Pimple turning tooth gray

I think I need help fast, but I don’t have a dentist. I have a pimple on my gums which is causing serious pain. I think it’s poisoning a tooth tooth because one of my teeth has turned gray. What do I do if I don’t have a dentist?

Brooke

Dear Brooke,

Woman grabbing her jaw in pain needing an emergency dentist
Tooth pain is a dental emergency

I’m very sorry you are in so much pain. You’ve got two things going on here. One of which is considered a dental emergency.

Pimple on the Gums

Let’s start with the pimple on your gums. This is a sign you have an infected tooth. The pimple is known as an abscess. This happens because the infection is severe. Infected teeth are considered dental emergencies.

These infections will continue to spread. In some cases, they become life threatening quickly. This is a result of where they spread and how long they’re left untreated. Your jaw is very close to your brain and heart. If the infection reaches there, sometimes it is too late to do anything. There were too many people who died from tooth infections last year, given how preventable it is.

I do realize you don’t have a dentist. Because this needs to be seen to right away, I’m going to suggest you do an internet search for an emergency dentist. These are general dentists who are willing to see non-established patients quickly in cases of emergencies such as yours.

Often, they’ll do what they can to get you out of pain, prescribe an antibiotic for hold off the infection and schedule a follow-up appointment to give the tooth the entire treatment it needs.

A Gray Tooth

When a tooth has turned gray, that is a sign it is either dead of dying. This tooth was also infected, which is a definite indicator the infection is spreading.

The dead tooth won’t have any pain, but the infection is still there and will need to be removed by the dentist. Unlike medical infections, you can’t just take an antibiotic and be done. Antibiotics will only keep a dental infection at bay, it won’t rid your body of it.

With dental infections, the dentist has to get in there and physically remove the infection with a procedure called a root canal treatment. This often requires the tooth to be crowned as well.

Don’t put off getting this seen.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. Mike Malone.

Dental bridge before implant?

I’m a little concerned about what my dentist is recommending for a missing tooth on my 15-year-old daughter. We’re planning on getting her a dental implant when her jaw is developed enough for one. I was looking at some temporary replacements. I thought a flipper would be a good option, but my dentist wants to give her a dental bridge. I think that’s a bad idea, but he said flippers are too temporary. What do you think?

Mandy

Dear Mandy,

woman smiling with a dentist
It’s always okay to get a second opinion from another dentist

I’m glad you wrote about this. While a dental bridge is a more secure fit, I don’t think it is a good fit for a teen aged girl. There are two reasons for this.

First, just like her jaw is still developing for her dental implant, she will need new bridges. That is too expensive to keep replacing as she grows.

Even though the flippers are meant to be temporary, you can replace those in a much more affordable way than the bridge.

There is another reason too which has nothing to do with cost. A dental bridge requires her adjacent teeth to be crowned in order to support and suspend the false tooth. That will mean those teeth will always have to be crowned for the remainder of her life.

If those teeth are healthy, you won’t want to grind down the healthy structure.

It’s Okay to Get a Second Opinion from Another Dentist

A good dentist will give you all of your options. Even then, they will make a recommendation. if you don’t like their recommendation and they’re pressuring you to go with their option, I recommend getting a second opinion.

If your dentist refuses to do the treatment you want you can go to another dentist for that procedure. That means you could get your daughter a dental flipper elsewhere. You don’t have to switch dentists to do that, unless you want to.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. Mike Malone.

Can I Bill Ex-Husband for Emergency Dental Work?

I’ve been divorced for about ten years. I left my ex-husband because he was abusive. It wasn’t until recently I developed the confidence to start dating again. When my ex-husband found out, he showed up at my apartment after one of my dates and beat me pretty badly. Thankfully, a neighbor noticed what was happening and called the police. He’s been arrested. But, I’ve been left with one chipped tooth and three loose teeth. I’m worried I’m going to lose them if I don’t get seen by a dentist, but I don’t have any money. Would an emergency dentist be willing to bill my ex?

Tanya

Dear Tanya,
Woman covering her mouth

I’m so sorry you had to experience that. You’ve been through a lot. Unless your ex-husband signs something saying he’ll pay for the appointment, there’s no legal way for the dentist to bill him. However, given the situation, I am pretty positive any dentist would be willing to allow you to get the services you need to save your teeth and pay out the bill a little at a time. Even if they don’t offer in-office payment plans, they’re sure to work with Care Credit.

It’s a medical “credit card” of sorts. It’s more financially friendly than your typical credit card, allowing the patient to get a much lower interest rate than would otherwise be possible. There’s also no penalty for an early payoff.

Given your ex-husband has been arrested for the assault, if you took him to small claims court you’ll be quite likely to win your money back.

You Need to See a Dentist Right Away

With you having some loose teeth, you don’t want to put off seeing a dentist. This needs to be dealt with immediately. If you don’t currently have a dentist, do an internet search using the term “emergency dentist“. These are general dentists who are willing to see non-established patients in cases where urgent care is needed.

They can splint your teeth and fix the chip with dental bonding. They’ll also do an x-ray to make sure there’s no internal damage to the teeth. If there is, they’ll do a root canal treatment and provide a dental crown.

You should know, there is a charity called “Give Back a Smile” that does free dental work for those who’ve suffered domestic abuse. After you get this emergency work done, you should apply.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. Mike Malone.

Planning For a Child’s Dental Care

I spent 10 years trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully. So, we applied for adoption. I just found out we’ve been approved and we’re flying to pick up our new son next week. So, now I’m in a mad dash of preparation for my new son. I can’t believe I can say my son. I want to do everything right. He’ll be 5 soon. What age should he start seeing a dentist? At what age should I switch him to a regular dentist?
What else should I know?

Laura A.

Dear Laura,

Boy smiling and holding a toothbrush
Dental Care for Children Should be All Smiles

The first thing I want you to do is to take a deep breath. This is a tremendous moment for you and I know you must feel thrilled and terrified simultaneously. I also don’t want you to get disappointed by unrealistic expectations.

I know you want to do everything perfectly, but like everyone else, you’re human. You’re going to make mistakes. You’ll make incredible sacrifices for your son, but you’ll also have selfish moments you’ll feel bad about the moment it’s done. Don’t beat yourself up about it too much. Just learn from it and move on.

As for what age he should see a pediatric dentist, I’d start him immediately, especially if he hasn’t been much in the past. Too many parents wait until there’s a dental problem and they need an emergency appointment. Then, the child’s first experience with the dentist is a negative one.

You can take him to a pediatric dentist or a general dentist who enjoys working with children. Both are qualified. Both have their pros and cons.

Pediatric Dentist or General Dentist?

A true pediatric dentist has done extra schooling and can handle certain more unusual issues that come up with children but not on adults very often. Additionally, their office is designed for children with little chairs and lots of colorful walls and toys. They usually go into the field because they love children and are great working with them.

A general dentist is still qualified to treat children, but have not had the additional schooling. That means there could be a tricky issue come up where they’d have to give you a referral to a specialist. However, that happens no matter what field someone is in. Many parents find it convenient for the entire family to go to the same practice. Though their office isn’t always designed with children in mind, if they enjoy treating children they will have things on hand for them.

When your son is with a general dentist, there won’t be any worries about having to switch dentists when he reaches a certain age. He’ll already be with a “grown-up” dentist.

I hope this helps and congratulations on being a mom.

Pediatric Dentist Strapped My Child Down

I am absolutely appalled. I took my daughter to the pediatric dentist for the first time. I got a little nervous when they didn’t let me back with her, but I didn’t want to make her worry so I pretended it was no big deal and she’d have a lot of fun. You can imagine how heartbroken I was when she told me that she got scared so they strapped her down. When they brought her out I could tell she’d been crying. I called, thinking I must have misunderstood her or she didn’t know how to explain what actually happened. They told me it’s standard procedure in dealing with an uncooperative child. Please tell me that’s not correct. She doesn’t ever want to go back.

Amy L.

Dear Amy,

Boy smiling and holding a toothbrush
Dental Care for Children Should be All Smiles

I’m heartbroken with you for the trauma your little girl experienced. I believe what you’re referring to is a papoose board. It wraps the child which essentially keeps them from moving during their appointment. It used to be a regular practice in many pediatric offices but has come under fire in recent years. Even the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has warned of its drawbacks and said parents have the right to terminate its use at any time.

While some children do better alone, many feel comforted knowing the mother is there to look out for them during their appointment. The goal of pediatric dental care is to give children a positive experience and get them excited about taking care of their teeth. I’d say your pediatric dentist totally failed at that.

Finding a Good Pediatric Dentist

You’ll obviously want to switch to a different practice. You can take your daughter to a pediatric specialist or a general dentist who enjoys treating children. One way to know how good a general dentist is with children is the age they’re willing to first see them. If they say around two years of age, you can feel pretty sure they’re comfortable with the wee set. If they say 8-10, then I’d look elsewhere.

Given your daughter’s experience, you’ll want a dentist who will let you go back with her. She’ll need to feel safe. You may also want to give her some nitrous oxide. It’s commonly called laughing gas and will help relax her. Wherever you end up, be sure to check their reviews ahead of time as well.

Please tell the new dentist what your daughter went through so they’ll be prepared to handle her understandable fear. We want to get her on the right track having positive experiences.

Most adults who end up with dental emergencies do so because they had a traumatic experience as a child and now avoid the dentist until their services become unavoidable.

For those patients, we recommend oral conscious sedation. It’s stronger than nitrous and will allow them to sleep through the appointment. That would be the last resort with a child, though. Let’s see if we can’t get her relaxed and happy without it.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

Dental Visits and Chronic Illness

Older couple smiling and hugging
Good oral health can keep your body healthy too!

Yes, You’ve heard it before, regular dental checkups will improve your overall health. But, did you know that it can help prevent heart disease? Studies are now showing strong links between gum disease and heart disease. In fact, those with gum disease are much more likely to develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease. Your dentist is much more likely to know something is wrong with your body before medical practitioner does.

Dental Care and Diabetes

When “Sara” came in for a checkup it had been a couple of years. We noticed she’d developed some bad breath and her gums were swollen and beginning to bleed. After a thorough cleaning and checkup, we suggested she do some follow up with her doctor and to have some blood work done to check for diabetes.

Sara was glad she did. Even though she had no family history or lifestyle risks, her blood work indicated she’d developed diabetes. She’s now on a treatment program that has made a huge difference in how she feels. She said she’ll never miss another dental appointment again.

Dental Care and Osteoporosis

Yes, those dental x-rays can be a pain, especially for those of you who suffer from a strong gag reflex. We do understand. But, they do more than let us know when you’ve developed decay between your chompers. They also help detect the beginning of bone loss. Those x-rays are much more affordable than bone scans and are a great indicator of whether or not you need to look for further diagnostics.

Dental Care and Heart Disease

“Greg” came in for a dental checkup. We determined he was in the beginning stages of gum disease. He also complained of jaw pain. We didn’t see any indicators of TMJ and asked him to follow up to get his heart checked. Unfortunately, in the busy-ness of life, Greg let that slip his mind until he started having chests pains and had to be rushed to the hospital. He’d had a major heart attack. The jaw pain combined with his gum disease had been an early indicator.

The next time you hear that oral health is good for your medical health, don’t blow it off. Regular brushing and flossing, along with checkups could actually save your life.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

No White Fillings for Children?

I’m not sure what to do. I noticed that you see children and you do white fillings. Do you give the white fillings to children? My pediatric dentist says that’s not possible. I don’t fancy the idea of putting mercury in my son’s mouth and he has his first cavity. We’re just watching it right now, but want to be prepared. If it were your son, what would you do?

Lori

Dear Lori,

Boy smiling and holding a toothbrush
Can Children Get White Fillings?

I’m very sorry about your son’s cavity. To answer your question, yes, children can get white fillings, but it’s not always easy. The biggest problem is they have to sit very still because the composite resin has to stay free of moisture during the placement process. But, it can be done. Usually, just some nitrous oxide is all that’s needed to keep a wiggly child still during their filling process. In fact, most of them sleep through the procedure.

It sounds like your pediatric dentist prefers to do things the way he’s always done them and isn’t that interested in keeping up with the advancements in dentistry. In your place, I’d find a new dentist, one who keeps up with the newer technologies and studies, especially when it regards putting a toxin in a child’s body.

Can General Dentists Treat Children?

Yes. Many general dentists love working with children. One way to know if they’re good with them is the age they first agree to see them. If they’ll see them in their toddler/preschool years, they love working with children. If they ask to wait until your child is about 8 or older, I’d look elsewhere.

Parents find it convenient for everyone to go to the same practice. You can book everyone’s appointments and get things done in one day. Plus, a dentist knowing the parent’s dental history knows what to look for in the children. It helps prevent issues that their parents may not have been able to avoid.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

Do I Get a Dental Implant or a Dental Bridge?

I lost a tooth. It’s my own fault. I waited too long to deal with it and now I have to replace it. My dentist is suggesting a dental implant, but I’m not too keen on the idea of surgery. Would a dental bridge do something close?

Kevin C.

Dear Kevin,

It depends on how close you’re wanting to get. Both a dental implant and a dental bridge are acceptable tooth replacement options. Both are permanent and secure. There are important differences though. I’ll explain both options. Then, you can discuss with your dentist what fits your situation best. His job isn’t to pressure you into an option, but rather to give you your options and a recommendation. The final decision is yours.

Dental Implants

Dental Implant DiagramYou already knew that a dental implant required surgery. The diagram on the left shows why.

As you can see, the implant is placed directly into your jawbone. The benefits to this are it’s like having your own natural tooth back, it preserves your jawbone, and no other teeth need to lose tooth structure for its placement.

Dental Bridge

Illustration of a dental bridgeA dental bridge is also permanent however, in order to bond them, it requires grinding down the adjacent teeth. Additionally, if part of it breaks the whole unit will have to be redone. They also do nothing to preserve the bone underneath.

When Does a Dental Bridge Make More Sense?

While it may sound like I’m suggesting dental implants are the better option, there is a time when a dental bridge makes more sense. For instance, if the adjacent teeth need to be crowned anyway then it’s like getting two procedures in one. Then, you’re not grinding healthy tooth structure.

The key is good communication with your dentist. He or she knows your teeth. If finances are a consideration as well, many dentists will let you pay out a procedure like dental implants which are a little more costly than simple procedures like a filling.

Who Should Do Your Tooth Restorations?

When you’re looking at replacing teeth, it’s important you choose the right dentist. The especially important when the tooth is in a visible part of your smile. You want it to look natural and beautiful. Not every dentist can pull that off.

Look for a dentist who’s accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). These are the top cosmetic dentists in the country. One other thing to consider. Once your implant crown or dental bridge is made, the color cannot be changed. If you want a whiter smile, be sure to have your teeth whitened before your tooth replacement procedure is done. That way your restoration will match your bright white smile.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

Is It Normal to Get a Pimple on Your Gums?

I’ve got a pimple on my gums. I’m worried about it. My husband says I’m overreacting, that it’s just a pimple. But, I’ve never heard of a pimple on gums and it hurts. Is this normal?

Danya L.

Dear Danya,

Emergency Dental Care

You’re right to be concerned. This is more serious than a simple pimple. It’s likely one of two things. First, it could be the beginnings of a canker sore and just resembles a pimple. This won’t be very large, but it will “open up” and start to resemble a canker sore rather soon.

This is not an emergency, but you will want to attend to it. Salt water rinses will help, along with over the counter pain relievers. It should clear up within two weeks. If it doesn’t, see your dentist for an oral tissue exam. Sometimes oral cancer resembles a canker sore. Your dentist examines you for this at every check-up. If you’re diligent with your check ups, the canker sore is the more likely scenario.

If it truly resembles a full-sized pimple, then it is most likely a fistula. This is filled with puss, so don’t pop it. You won’t like the taste. A fistula means you have an active tooth infection. This needs to be seen right away. In fact, if you don’t have a regular dentist, you need to see an emergency dentist. They’ll work you in sooner than most dentists even if you’re not an established patient.

There are a number of possible treatment options here depending on why the bacteria is pooling. If the tooth is cracked and leaking bacteria into the gums, then you’ll need a dental crown. If it’s in a visible place then you’ll want to be sure to get an all-porcelain crown. They look completely natural. If there’s an infection, it’s possible to need a root canal treatment.

Either way, you don’t want to put off treatment. The infection will spread. The quicker it’s treated, the less invasive the procedure will need to be.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

What are some decent tooth replacement options?

I have to get a tooth extracted. I wanted to get a second opinion on some good tooth replacement options. Money is no object. I want the best. What are your thoughts?

Martin C. – Albany, NY

Martin,

My initial thought is if you want the top tooth replacement option, than just about any dentist would tell you to get dental implants.  They’re the most like having your own natural tooth.  If you’re in good general health, than you are likely a candidate.

There are times when a dental bridge makes more sense. That’s generally if the adjacent teeth to the missing tooth happen to need dental crowns. If that’s the case, a dental bridge will take care of two procedures at once.

You didn’t say what your dentist suggested. If he’s not adequately trained in dental implants, then he wouldn’t be likely to suggest them.  But, it is the ideal treatment if you’re a candidate.

There are other options, as well, aside from implants and bridges, such as a removable partial denture, but you asked for the top treatments.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.