Can You Die From Dental Sedation?

I tend to be a worrier. I’ll admit that up front. But, this time I think I really have reason. I’ve read a story online about a child that recently died during dental sedation. People tend to be more careful with children. If this child died, how can I feel safe?

Leslie M. – Oklahoma

Leslie,

As I’m sure you know as a natural worrier, there is risk in everything. However, sedation dentistry is very safe. It’s rare for a dentist to even see an issue in their entire careers, let alone anything serious.

The greatest risk comes when a patient goes under general anesthesia. Hardly any dentist even use this form of sedation. Most use something called oral conscious sedation. You’re actually awake but completely relaxed and pain-free. Though most patients sleep through the procedure, because they’re so relaxed, you’re capable of staying awake and communicating with the dentist and staff.

To put your mind at ease, you could speak to your dentist about your concerns and ask him what type of training he’s received for sedation. Ask what training he’s had if complications do arise. He should be able to answer these questions readily.

For instance, Dr. Theriot is certified with the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS). Fewer than 10% of dentists have put forth the effort to complete this level of training.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. John Theriot.

Would a CEREC Crown Have Saved My Tooth?

I really wanted to have a CEREC crown done, but my dentist didn’t have the machine.  I’ve been a loyal patient of his for 10 years, so I went ahead with a regular one. My back right molar had a root canal about six months ago, but he wanted me to wait and see how it did for a few weeks before restoring it and then I got called away for work, so I didn’t make it back in when he wanted me to come. Then, about two weeks ago, I went in to have it prepped. The dentist reshaped it and his assistant made a temporary to fit over the top. I ended up flying out of town on business the next day and while I was gone, the temporary broke. When I called the office, they said I’d be fine as long as I was careful. Well, I was careful, but it broke anyway. I went into the office yesterday and the dentist said that, not only will the crown not fit anymore, but that the tooth cannot be saved. I’ve already invested close to $2,000 in this tooth and it’s just gone. The dentist says this would have happened regardless of the treatment because the tooth had become brittle over the root canal. Should I get a second opinion and would the CEREC crown have prevented this or would it have broken off anyway?

Ashley H. – North Little Rock, AR

Dear Ashley,

Yes, you should get a second opinion. If you’re talking about having an extraction and you think there’s enough tooth left that it can be saved, there’s no harm in seeing if someone else agrees. It is almost always better to save a tooth than to replace it.

There’s something off about what your dentist is saying, though. It’s very rare for a tooth to become brittle that soon after a root canal. It’s possible, but unlikely. However, without the temporary crown on, it would be exposed and more likely to become damaged.

Letting you go without it wasn’t a good choice. I realize you were out of town, but he should have recommended you see an emergency dentist, so you’d have some kind of coverage on the tooth.

It sounds more like he’s being defensive of his work, so you can’t find fault in him for not offering CEREC crowns. Whether the tooth broke because it was brittle or because that extra week or so without the temporary was the straw that broke the camel’s back is somewhat irrelevant, though.

The benefit of the  CEREC crown is the work would have been done that day and the tooth wouldn’t have been exposed and damaged. However, a traditional crown, done properly and on time  would have been strong enough to withstand any kind of normal biting force as well.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. John Theriot.

Are Canker Sores a Sign of Oral Cancer?

I’m concerned my husband has oral cancer. He gets these canker sores all the time. This last one is worse than ever and now he can’t eat. Does he need an emergency dentist?

Amelia – California

Amelia,

You have two questions here. It doesn’t require an emergency dentist, but because he has them so often, he does need to have an oral exam.

Canker sores aren’t cancer, but oral cancer spots can masquerade as canker sores. True canker sores generally clear up within two weeks. Any that last longer than that should certainly be looked at.

It’s concerning that your husband can’t eat. There are over-the-counter gels you can get to give him some relief. There are even pads that can cover the sores but, in all honestly, it’s hard to keep those on the sore due to the moist nature of the inside of our mouths.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. John Theriot.