How to tell if a tooth is dead - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 06-25-2012, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Took my 10 year-old to dentist today to see whether a temporary filling had succeeded in preventing further infection (put in 9 mos ago) in his back (6-year) molar. The dentist said the cavity had gone down to the nerve area and therefor the tooth is dead. She recommended an extraction as soon as possible, but would first check with a more experienced dentist. She's very young and I think it's possible she doesn't know how to tell if a tooth is dead. I don't know much myself, but after a couple of hours of googling I came across a technique that's used to determine if the nerves are dead, and nothing like that took place at our dentist's today. My son has never been in any kind of pain, and there is no other sign of infection like swelling, pus, cold/heat sensitivity. Granted my son has a pretty high pain thresh hold but I think there would other signs if there was an infection of any kind. 


I live in Sweden where holistic dentists have been pretty much wiped out, so finding one isn't an option. However, we're moving back to the States pretty shortly, 1-3 months from now, and I'm trying to figure out whether we have time to see how things progress without putting him in any danger so we can see a more experienced holistic dentist and hopefully have more options. 


Was my dentist correct in proclaiming the tooth dead based only on the fact the caries had progressed down to the nerve? Wouldn't there be an infection before the tooth dies? 


Another tooth had started to remineralize (a baby tooth) as seen on x-rays, which is giving me hope for the other tooth, unless it is in fact dead already. I need to get this confirmed before I decide to have the tooth removed or not. 

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#2 of 4 Old 06-25-2012, 08:30 AM
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Don't know the answer to your main question, but if it is not currently infected I don't see any reason why it needs to be pulled asap. I think I would wait on it until getting a second opinion. You can always schedule the extraction if it becomes very painful or infected before then.

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#3 of 4 Old 06-25-2012, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! I think I should call the dentist back to ask whether she thought it was infected. I just looked at it and it looks so perfect and healthy:(. Nothing around it on the gums or anything. I hope we have time to get a second opinion. He's had an abcess before at age 5 and didn't experience any pain with it, all of the sudden his cheek swelled up, no complaints prior to that. Hopefully now that he's older, he's a bit more aware of subtle signs. 

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#4 of 4 Old 07-03-2012, 09:17 PM
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I suggest you get a more experienced pediatric Dentist, especially if he was discoloration on his other six year molars. Weak enamel on six year molars is something that about 1 in 1,000 kids gets and a good pediatric dentist makes a lot of difference ime.
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