What to do in a dental emergency?

Posted on November 11, 2014

There are a variety of dental emergencies that may affect people from time to time: toothaches, lost fillings, lost crowns, chipped or broken teeth, problems with braces, broken jaw bones, lost or displaced teeth,  injuries to oral soft tissues, and others. Definitive treatment in these situations requires that you see a dentist, but there are some things you can do in the meantime. Please continue reading for advice on how to handle common dental emergencies.


What to do about a toothache?


   First remove any debris from the affected tooth by rinsing with lukewarm water and flossing around the tooth. If you have swelling, apply a cold compress or ice back to the affected area. The pain usually responds somewhat to over the counter painkillers like Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleeve (naproxen). These two medications are usually the most effective choice, but if you can't take one of them, then take Tylenol (acetaminophen). Aspirin (acetylsalycilic acid) and other painkillers are meant to be taken internally. Never attempt to use painkillers by applying them to the gums around your tooth. These medications are usually acidic and will burn your gums. Sometimes cold liquids or hot liquids will make the pain worse, but occasionally they will make it better. If one or the other temporarily relieves the pain, feel free to use it to temporarily relive your pain. Finally clove oil is an old but effective home remedy. It can be found in the dental section of most pharmacies. Apply it to the painful tooth according to the instructions on the package.


What to do about lost fillings?


Occasionally fillings come out. Most commonly this is due to decay under the old filling. Usually a tooth with a lost filling is very sensitive. To temporarily relieve the sensitivity, fill the hole with over the counter temporary filling material (available at most pharmacies). If you do not have access to this material a bit of sugar-free gum or orthodontic wax also works well. Call you dentist and setup an appointment as soon as possible.


What to do about lost crowns?


Sometimes crowns come off their teeth. The most common causes are decay under the crown or simply failure of the cement. In the latter case, your dentist may be able to recement the crown, but it is important that you go see your dentist quickly and you keep the crown in place until the appointment. Keeping the crown in place prevents adjacent teeth from drifting into the crown's space and protects against sensitivity. Try to replace the crown on its tooth. If you can do so, get some over the counter temporary cement from your local pharmacy and temporarily recement the crown according to the instructions on the package. Call your dentist ASAP. Take the crown with you to the appointment.


What to do about chipped or broken teeth?


 If a tooth breaks, start by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water to remove any debris. If you can find the broken piece or pieces, take them with you to your appointment. These can sometimes be bonded back on. Even if they cannot be bonded back, they are helpful in restoring the tooth to the same form again. Inspect the broken tooth, if it is bleeding, hold pressure on it with moist cause until the bleeding stops. A tooth that is bleeding will likely require a root canal to be fixed. In some cases this can be avoided, but treatment must be done within 1-2 hours. Call your dentist and set up an appointment immediately when a tooth is bleeding.


What to do about problems with braces?


If a bracket comes loose or a wire breaks, your appliance will need to be repaired. Wires can usually be replaced with relative ease and brackets can be rebonded. It is important to keep yourself comfortable until the appliance is repaired, but it is not urgent to repair the appliance immediately. A few days or even a week will likely be okay. Call and set an appointment as soon as is convenient. In the meantime. cover any areas that are irritatingg or injuring your soft tissue with orthodontic wax.


What to do about a broken jaw?


When a person suffers a traumatic facial injury, that persons upper or lower jaw may be broken If you notice unusual mobility of any portion of your jaws, you may likely have a  fracture. Also, if several "loose" teeth move together you may have a fracture. A fracture requires prompt medical attention. Try to minimize movement of the affected jaw or jaws, and get to see your dentist right away.


What to do about a lost or displaced tooth?


If you get hit in a tooth it may be displaced or knocked out. If it is displaced see your dentist.

Do not try to push it back into lace. If the tooth is knocked out, you will also need to see your dentist.  It may be possible to reimplant the tooth. This needs to be done within 1-2 hours of losing the tooth. It is important to keep the tissues on the root alive. Handle the tooth by the crown (part that is normally sticks out into your mouth). Try to avoid touching the root. Place the tooth into either a tissue preserving solution (e.g Hanks Balanced Salt Solution) skim milk, or just put the tooth back in its socket. Store it in one of these places until you see your dentist.


What to do about soft tissue injuries?


Gums, mucosa, and lips can be injured easily in  variety of ways. After an injury start by rinsing with salt water to remove debris. Then apply pressure with moistened gauze to anywhere that continues to bleed. Also, apply ice to areas of swelling. Some injuries require stiches and some don't. Go see your dentist ASAP after a facial soft-tissue injury.


Have a dental emergency? This dentist in Edmond, OK. Is extremely skilled at dealing with dental emergencies. Call 405-44-SMILE today for an appointment.




What should I do about a cracked tooth?

Posted on June 15, 2014

Cracked teeth can be a great source of frustration for patients and dentists alike. They often cause vague, non-specific, and hard to diagnose symptoms like occasional biting pain or cold sensitivity that comes and goes. Sometimes a root canal is needed to prevent pain and infection when a tooth cracks. This becomes more likely the longer the crack persists without treatment. Occasionally a cracked tooth may fracture and possibly have to be extracted with little or no warning.


The reason it is so critical to address cracks in a tooth is that teeth are made of brittle materials (in the material science sense of the word brittle – roughly a material with high compressive strength but low tensile strength). Enamel is strong but brittle just like glass. In all brittle materials, cracks grow once they start (aka. crack propagation).


A crack in a tooth is like a crack in a windshield. It keeps growing down the tooth until the root splits.






Redbud Dental recommends that all teeth with cracks causing the following be treated immediately:


 1. Tooth decay in the crack or under an old filling

 2. Biting sensitivity

 3. Cold, hot, or sweet sensitivity

The treatment is to place a crown (or sometimes onlay), which will splint the tooth together and prevent further growth of the crack. If the tooth has begun to ache by itself or has become hot or sweet sensitive a root canal is probably needed too. Sometimes the need for a root canal won’t be discovered until after the tooth is prepared for a crown and a temporary crown placed. If doing this doesn’t resolve all symptoms then a root canal is probably needed.


Sometimes I am asked if we can place a filling to fix a cracked tooth. This does not work. Fillings actually wedge apart the sides of the tooth and tend speed up the propagation of the crack. Only a crown (aka cap) or onlay can splint together the sides of the tooth and keep the crack from spreading.


So if you have a cracked tooth, get it examined by your dentist today. Don’t delay. Get it fixed before the problem gets worse. Get it fixed before you need a root canal and before the tooth fractures and can’t be fixed. If you need a dentist. Come see me at Redbud Dental. We fix cracked teeth all the time. We have many patients who have had successful crowns and onlays placed that saved their teeth from being lost due to cracks.


Did this post on cracked-teeth make you gnash your teeth? This dentist in Edmond, OK would love to hear about it. Please comment on this post on our Facebook (


If you are looking for an Edmond dentist, we are excited to accept new patients! Call the office at 405-44-SMILE today for an appointment. You can always email me at
I answer my own emails!


Jay Peck, DDS


Are you at risk for cavities?

Posted on July 1, 2013

Have you ever wondered why your dentist may recommend that you have x-rays, fluoride treatments, or have your teeth cleaned more frequently than is “normal”? Maintenance of your dental health is as individual to you as medical treatment is to the rest of your body. There may be conditions specific to you that require more frequent x-ray evaluations, cavity preventing fluoride treatments, or cleanings to maintain the foundation that gives support to your teeth.


Do you know why many people, including dental insurance executives, think the “normal” interval for a dental check-up is every six months? It is all due to the successful television ad campaign of Bucky Beaver and Ipana toothpaste in the late 50’s and 60’s. Bucky recommended that you “brush your teeth twice a day and see your dentist twice a year.” There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support a twice a year check-up. Gum disease and cavities are caused by bacteria and your immunities ability to fight these bacterial infections may be weakened by disease (such as diabetes), poor oral care, frequent sugar intake, medications, stress, lack of sleep, or many other factors that may require that you seek a more frequent evaluation. Rather than some cartoon character being in charge of your dental well-being, wouldn’t you prefer a customized treatment plan from a doctor you know and trust?


The American Dental Association has written recommendations based on scientific evidence that helps your dentist create a treatment plan that fits your specific needs. You may presently be at moderate to high risk for decay if you:

1. Have had 1 or more cavities in the last 3 years

2. Frequently ingest sugary foods or drinks

3. Are not an established patient of record receiving regular dental care

4. Have a dry mouth (caused by medications or disease). Even very slight dry mouth can be devastating to the teeth.

5. Have a family member with active caries in last 2 years (Bacteria is transmitted person to person through sharing of food, kissing, or even blowing on your child’s food)

6. Have had limited fluoride exposure

7. Have restorations with overhangs and/or open margins

8. Have areas that food packs between the teeth


How can you reduce your caries risk? The first line of defense is plaque reduction. If you don’t allow the bugs to stick around you can avoid the mayhem they cause. Brushing twice a day and flossing once with emphasis on proper technique is the general rule, but there are exceptions, especially where the health of the gums are concerned. The benefits of fluoride in cavity reduction have long been known. It bonds with the outer portion of the tooth making it harder and therefore more resistant to decay. It can also reverse areas where the enamel has been weakened by decalcification, the first stage of decay.


Fluoride is found in water reservoirs and as an additive to most tooth pastes and many mouth rinses. There are several types of concentrated prescription strength fluoride treatments available that may reduce cavity formation by as much as 70%. The American Dental Associations recommend their use every 3-6 months depending on your risk factors for decay.


Dental sealants are a great defense for both children and adults. The grooves in the biting surfaces often have deep fissures that cannot be reached with a toothbrush. Bacteria can creep into these fissures and release acids that can quickly form cavities. If these grooves are “sealed” by flowing a filling material into the deeper portions they are protected from the decay process.


Sealants have been a priority for placement in children’s teeth for many years, but sadly are often missing from an adult’s dental treatment. The structure of a tooth does not change once erupted; therefore the sealant recommendation is the same regardless of age. Sealants last many years, but should be replaced as they wear out.


Studies have found that the natural sugar xylitol, which is used to sweeten many sugarfree chewing gums, can also be to deter cavity formation by up to 80 percent in people who follow a regiment of 6-8 grams a day. Ice Breakers Ice Cubes gum which contains 1.1 grams per piece can be used at a dosage of 2 pieces 3-4 times daily. Epic chewing gum, which is available online or at our office, can be purchased in bulk to fit your needs. Mints are also available for those who have that preference or experience facial joint problems which contraindicate chewing gum usage.


Most dental disease is “silent” and only causes pain or obvious symptoms when it has progressed to a serious state. Decay usually has limited or no symptoms until it has grown to a point that the inner nerve of the tooth may be compromised. Often by this time the treatment is quite extensive and can result in tooth loss. If decay is caught early a tooth can be restored with a small, long-lasting, and affordable filling. Regular dental care customized to fit your needs is necessary to keep treatment to a minimum as well as to insure that the foundation that supports your teeth is also healthy. Frequency is determined by the need of each individual depending on the oral care, strength of immunities, decay risk, or gum health; not by Bucky Beaver.


I hope that this information will lead you in making choices that increases not only the longevity of your teeth, but your longevity as well. If there is any way we can serve your dental needs we would love to have you visit us at Redbud Dental.


Did this post on cavity risk teach you something new? This hygienist in Edmond, OK would love to hear about it. Please comment on this post on our Facebook (


If you are looking for an Edmond dentist, we are excited to accept new patients! Call the office at 405-44-SMILE today for an appointment. You can always email me at
I answer my own emails!


Velda Shults, RDH




Root Canal Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on December 24, 2011

I am often asked many questions by patients about root canals. Here is a list of frequently asked questions about root canals with my answers.


1.) Why do I need a root canal? A root canal is a treatment to eliminate or prevent pain and infection of a tooth. The inside of the tooth is filled with a soft tissue called pulp that is kind of like skin. It is filled with blood vessels and nerves. It is extremely sensitive and is the source of the hot or cold sensitivity that teeth can have. For various reasons this tissue can become infected and die. Root canal therapy cleans the dead, rotting pulp out of the tooth and replaces it with a biologically inert filling. This allows the tooth to continue to be used pain and infection free for many more years.


2.) What is a root canal? A root canal is treatment to debride (remove and clean) gangrenous (dead and rotting) pulp tissue or pulp tissue that will become gangrenous from the tooth and then fill the resulting empty space with a biologically inert filling to prevent reinfection. Root canal treatment is accomplished by drilling a hole in the top of the tooth to access the pulp tissue in the middle of the tooth. The pulp tissue is cleaned using tiny files. Then a filling material is pressed into place in the roots of the tooth. The root canal treatment does include filling the roots but not restoring the tooth itself to replace tooth structure lost due to cavities and due to the procedure itself. Therefore a final restoration (usually a build-up and a crown) is also required.


3.) Why can’t I just take an antibiotic to fix an infected tooth? I am often asked this question by patients. Root canal therapy seems expensive (see question #4) and antibiotic treatment is relatively cheap. The problem is that once the pulp in the tooth dies, the tooth is filled with gangrene (i.e. dead, rotten, infected tissue). Antibiotics cannot reach areas of dead tissue because there are no longer living blood vessels to carry the antibiotic to the gangrenous tissue. Just like any other part of the body affected by gangrene the only acceptable treatment is debridement (cleansing and removal of dead tissue) and possibly administration of antibiotics at the time of the debridement. The process of debriding gangrenous pulp tissue is part of the root canal therapy. Treatment with antibiotics may provide temporary relief from the pain caused by bacteria spreading out of the tooth, but they cannot eliminate the bacteria in the tooth. It is like taking antibiotics for an infected splinter. The source of the infection is left behind and it will just come back. Eventually after several antibiotic treatments, resistant strains of bacteria are likely to develop. Elimination of the source (gangrenous pulp tissue) is the only treatment that can provide elimination of the infection. This can only be accomplished by root canal therapy or extraction.


4.) Why is Root Canal Therapy so expensive? Root canal therapy seems expensive. Current average pricing ranges from about $500-$1000 for the root canal therapy (depending on the difficulty of the tooth involved) and about $1000 for the build-up and crown that is necessary to protect the root canal treatment.  It does seem very expensive to spend $2000 to fix one tooth. However, other alternatives are usually more expensive. Extracting and replacing a tooth with an implant currently costs about $4500 at most practitioners. So fixing the tooth is usually cheaper. More importantly, if properly maintained (brushed and flossed), a good root canal will probably last the rest of your life and a good crown usually lasts at least 20 years. If you invest $2000 for 20 years of pain and infection free use of your tooth. That is only $100 per year. The average family spends about $800 per year on cable TV. Most people spend more time each day eating, talking, and smiling than watching cable. So fixing a tooth for $2000 is actually a relatively cheap investment.


5.) After the root canal it feels better and looks good to me, why do I need a crown? The root canal treatment includes filling the root but it does not include filling the hole drilled into the tooth to access the pulp tissue or replacing tooth structure destroyed by cavities.  Also root canal treatment requires drilling a hole through the top of the tooth and down the roots. This process weakens the tooth, especially back teeth. The tooth remains strong enough to last, if reinforced by a crown. Without a crown the tooth is very likely to either break or crack. If it breaks, it often cannot be fixed. If a crack occurs, it can allow bacteria to reenter the root canal space and cause a new infection. Studies show that a good root canal with a good crown succeeds about 90% of the time. This is an extremely high success rate for any medical procedure. However studies show the crown is actually more important than the root canal itself. A bad root canal with a good crown still succeeds about 60% of the time, but a good root canal with a bad crown only succeeds about 40% of the time. A back tooth that has a root canal very likely will not succeed without a crown. Finally, in limited cases (small decay or no decay) a front tooth may only need a filling after a root canal. However, it is uncommon for a tooth with small or no decay to need a root canal.


6.) What causes a toothache? A toothache is caused by dead or dying dental pulp. The dental pulp is a soft tissue in the middle of the tooth (see question #1 for more on the pulp). When the pulp is irritated sufficiently it will die. It can be irritated by bacteria from a deep cavity or trauma from deep preparation (drilling) on the tooth for a crown or filling. The pulp is trapped in a hard, enclosed space. If irritated it tries to swell like any other part of the body when irritated, but in this enclosed space it cannot swell. So instead of increasing in size like normal swelling, it increases in pressure. This high pressure cuts off the blood supply and the tissue dies from lack of oxygen. As the tissue dies, it is very painful.  Usually there is extreme sensitivity to hot and cold. A root canal is often done during this dying period. It will have the greatest chance of success if done, while the tooth is still alive. After, a while the tooth will completely die. At this point the space filled with pulp becomegangrene (dead tissue). This dead tissue is a perfect food for bacteria and the inside of the tooth becomes abscessed. During this time, the tooth usually feels better. Eventually the abscess leaks out of the tooth into the bone that holds the tooth. When the bone becomes abscessed it becomes extremely painful. Most patients describe it as the worst pain they have ever felt (even patients that have had traumatic accidents and given natural childbirth). When your dentist tells you that a tooth needs a root canal that may not even hurt, it is because he or she is trying to prevent you from getting to the point of having this terrible pain. The only treatment to eliminate the pain and infection of a dying or dead tooth, is removal of the dead or dying pulp. This can only be accomplished by root canal therapy or extraction. Antibiotics may provide temporary relief but cannot fix the problem (see question #3).


7.) Does every tooth that get a crown need a root canal first? No. Sometimes when a tooth is prepared for a crown, the trauma of the crown preparation can cause the pulp of the tooth to die. Sometime after the crown is placed the tooth will develop a toothache and will need a root canal. However this is rare. Doing a root canal before every crown to prevent this situation would lead to many, many unnecessary root canals. Most of the time teeth with large but not deep decay can receive a crown without a root canal.


8.) Do root canals hurt? Usually not. In the past, when dentists actually used Novocaine, it was difficult to get infected teeth numb and keep them numb. During this time root canals got a bad name for hurting. With the advent of modern anesthetics, especially lidocaine and articaine, it is possible to get infected teeth numb and keep them numb long enough to finish a root canal. Usually patients feel no pain during a root canal and feel better immediately afterward. In rare cases,  a patient will experience continued or increased toothache for 2-3 days after a root canal. This pain usually responds very well to pain medication and can be managed well.


Did this post on root canals make answer your questions? This dentist in Edmond, OK would love to hear about it. Please comment on this post on our Facebook (


If you are looking for an Edmond dentist, we are excited to accept new patients! Call the office at 405-44-SMILE today for an appointment. You can always email me at
I answer my own emails!


Jay Peck, DDS


Halloween Candy and Cavities

Posted on October 16, 2011

So does Halloween candy cause cavities.


Cavities are caused when bacteria that produce acid dissolve holes in the teeth.
This process requires three things:


1.) The bacteria

2.) Nutrition for the bacteria

3.) Time


The process is not instant. The bacteria must be left on the tooth for an extended period of time. This is usually many hours a day for many days in a row (weeks or months).


Not only must the bacteria be on the tooth, but they must also have nutrition. Fermentable carbohydrates is the term for foods that can be turned into acid by a process called fermentation. Fermentable carbohydrates are all forms of sugar and other carbohydrates that are easily converted to sugar, most notably starch. Bacteria do not need constant access to sugar to create decay, but frequent consumption is very destructive. This is because the bacteria absorb as much sugar as they can very quickly (in seconds). Then they slowly digest it over about 30 minutes releasing acid the whole time. So if you frequently snack on or frequently drink fermentable carbohydrates your teeth will be exposed to acid almost constantly.


The most common culprits are sugar containing beverages (juice, coke, sweetened coffee, or sweet tea), sugar gum, and sugar mints or hard candies. Halloween candy that is consumed over a few weeks and is consumed on a irregular basis is not as likely to be a problem. Having a cup of juice 4 times a day in between meals is very likely to be a problem.


Finally, the best way to prevent tooth decay is to remove the bacteria on a regular basis. The longer the bacteria are on the tooth the worse they become. The first bacteria to move in produce less acid than the ones that move in a day or two later. The best thing you can do to avoid cavities is clean the entire tooth at least once a day. This means both brushing and flossing. It is important to brush near the gumline as well. Flossing is a must because 40% of the surface of the tooth is between the teeth. This are is inaccessible to a toothbrush. If you never floss, this area is as dirty as the rest of your tooth would be if you never brushed. Yuck!


So here’s to happy flossing & brushing & less tooth decay!


Did this post on sugar and cavities make you want to brush your teeth? This dentist in Edmond, OK would love to hear about it. Please comment on this post on our Facebook


If you are looking for an Edmond dentist, we are excited to accept new patients! Call the office at 405-44-SMILE today for an appointment. You can always email me at
I answer my own emails!


Jay Peck, DDS



My tooth doesn’t hurt, why do I need a filling?

Posted on October 1, 2011

Patients often ask me why they need a filling if their tooth doesn’t hurt. Also, for every patient that actually asks, I know there are probably five thinking the same thing in their head that don’t bother to mention it. When someone does ask, I often tell them that maintaining teeth is similar to maintaining a car engine. If you waited until your car engine showed symptoms (i.e. seized up) to change the oil, it would be a lot more time consuming and expensive to fix than if you took preventative action and actually performed routine maintenance. The same is true for teeth. if you wait until they hurt then it is usually far more difficult and expensive to fix them than if you fix them as soon as a problem is detected. This is why dentists recommend regular checkups.


First let’s look at what a cavity (scientific term: dental caries) is.  A cavity is basically a bacteria filled hold in a tooth. It starts with microscopic damage to the surface of the tooth by acid secreting bacteria. Once enough surface is dissolved by the acid that the bacteria can actually enter into the tooth, they do. At this point the bacteria continue to proceed deeper and deeper into the tooth dissolving the tooth away from the inside out. None of this is painful. Rarely does it even cause sensitivity. Rarely can it been seen without the help of x-rays. Once a hole has formed in the tooth, nothing (not even brushing, flossing, or fluoride) will stop this process except removing the decay and then covering the hole with a protective material (i.e. getting a filling).


So when does a cavity hurt? Eventually the bacteria penetrate very deep to the middle of the tooth which contains a soft tissue called dental pulp. When the bacteria become very near this tissue, sensitivity may begin. When the bacteria enter this tissue it invariably dies. It is trapped in a hard space and when infected tries to swell like any other part of the body does when infected. In the hard space it cannot swell but instead increases in pressure cutting off its own blood supply. Then it dies. The process of death of the dental pulp is extremely painful. After death it feels better, but now the tooth is full of dead, rotting tissue. Sometime later enough bacteria from this rotting tissue leak out of the tooth into the bone to cause an abscess in the bone.  At this point it become very painful again. The abscess may go through cycles of being very painful and then not hurting at all only to repeat again. Whether an abscessed tooth is hurting or not, it is still dangerous and the infection is still there. The periods of pain relief come from the abscess finding a way to drain its pus into the mouth relieving the pressure and the pain. Eventually the drain clogs up and it starts to hurt again. The only way to fix it is to get the dead, rotten tissue out by either removing the tooth or cleaning out the inside of the tooth
(called a root canal procedure).


The bad new is that once the tooth begins to die it is going to die. It cannot heal because of the decreasing blood supply. The tooth may not ever experience increased sensitivity prior to starting to die. If it does, it will usually only be for a short period of time before the dying process begins. Therefore, if you wait until it hurts to fix it you are very likely to need a root canal procedure. Also because you have waited for it to become a very big hole instead of a little hole you will probably need a build-up and a crown (cap) as well.  Worst of all, a tooth that gets a root canal and crown in a young person (yougner than middle age) is unlikely to last the rest of the person’s life.


It is impossible to predict how long it will take a small cavity to go from just starting out to needing a root canal. Cavities progress at different speeds depending on diet, oral hygiene, and saliva composition and amount. Some may progress to tooth ache in just a few months and some may take years. Therefore there is no way to say this tooth has a cavity but won’t need a filling until such and such date.


So when do we see cavities without an x-ray? The short answer is only when they are really big. Your dentist can probably see visual clues of cavity presence before a lay person because he or she looks at cavities all day every day. However, even your dentist cannot see many cavities visually until they are pretty large. The outside of the tooth is a shell of hard material called enamel (a mineral crystal -basically rock coating your tooth). The inside of the tooth is made of dentin which is similar to bone. While dentin is also hard, it is much softer than enamel. It is also much easier to dissolve in acid. Therefore the cavity enters the tooth through a microscopic hole in the enamel and then spreads out widely in the softer dentin.  The hole in the dentin may be much, much bigger then the hole in the enamel. What looks like a little black dot the size of a pinhead on the surface of your tooth can easily be a huge hole the size of half your tooth underneath.


Large cavities that cannot be seen by visually examining the teeth.


The x-ray on the left shows two teeth that are both nearly half destroyed by cavities. Also the tooth on the right is most likely already infected and will require a root canal, build-up, and crown. The cavities in both teeth were not readily apparent on visual examination.


X-rays show calcified materials very well (bones and teeth). Since cavities are basically a process of calcium loss due to acid attack, they also show very well as a specific spot of no calcification within the normal calcification of a tooth. We can detect a cavity on x-ray before we can see it visually. When we do we recommend a filling. The earlier we can detect a cavity, the smaller the filling to fix it will need to be. A small filling will last you much longer than a large filling. A filling generally ranges from $100-$200.  A root canal, build-up, and crown generally ranges from $1500-$2500. This is why dentists recommend filling teeth that don’t hurt. It can avoid the need for root canals and crowns. It can allow you to have less invasive small fillings rather than large ones. It can save you thousands of dollars down the line.  Most importantly it can help ensure a lifetime of healthy service from your teeth.


So next time your dentist tells you you need a filling, remember this post. I know the natural reaction is to think, “Yeah right, my tooth doesn’t hurt. This dentist just wants to make money off me.” Try to remember this post. The dentist actually makes a lot more money, if he or she let’s you wait until it hurts. A root canal, build-up, and crown cost a lot more than a filling. So if your dentist brings up your cavities early before they hurt; he or she probably has your best interests at heart.


Did this post on cavities make your teeth itch? This dentist in Edmond, OK would love to hear about it. Please comment on this post on our Facebook (


If you are looking for an Edmond dentist, we are excited to accept new patients! Call the office at 405-44-SMILE today for an appointment. You can always email me at
I answer my own emails!



How much does dental work cost?

Posted on September 17, 2011

Many patients are concerned with the high cost of dental care. Unfortunately high costs are a result of the healthcare system that we have in place in the United States today.  We undoubtedly have the highest quality dental care in the world, but that also comes with some of the highest dental costs in the world. The good news is that over the course of several year our initial investment in quality dental care is much cheaper than continually reinvesting in cheap, poor-quality dental care.


So how do dentists determine fees? Most people think the fees in dentistry are set like in a retail store: there is a product with a certain cost, a certain markup is applied to that cost, and the fee is set to be cost plus markup.  In reality, fee setting in dentistry is a complex process and involves many factors.


The cost to the dentist to perform any given dental procedure is nearly impossible to determine. For example, some one surface fillings may take ten minutes and some may take thirty. Some might require one cartridge of filling material and some might require two. Sometimes a filling procedure might use five gauze pieces and sometimes it might use ten. Determining the true cost would required detailed accounting of every minute and every bit of supplies used.


So instead of directly determining costs, dentist estimate costs by examining the total average costs over a long time period (months) compared to the procedures done over that time period.


Fees are generally set using a regional fee report. Dentists look at average fees for other dentists in the area and decide if they want to have fees that are average, above average, or below average. Over time the dentist often refines the fees based on the average cost analysis that I mentioned earlier.


If you have insurance (PPO type), maximum fees are actually set by your insurance. These maximum fees are quite low; so most of the time the dentist charges the maximum fee. Therefore with PPO insurance, fees charged will vary none or only a very slight amount from one in-network dentist to the next.


So why are some procedures much more expensive than others. There are two reasons: The first is perceived level of service, and the second is time involved in completing the procedure.


Perceived level of service can best be explained by an analogy. A steakhouse might charge $25 for a sirloin steak and $40 for a filet mingon, but if you buy the steaks at the butcher the filet only costs $5 more.  Both steaks take about the same amount of time to prepare and serve. The $15 difference in price is much more than the difference in cost plus markup. So why is the filet so much more. The answer is because it is seen as being the best.


In dentistry, certain procedures have high fees because they are perceived as being the best. For example, dental implants and dental implant restorations tend to be very expensive. This is because they are the highest level of service for persons with missing teeth. Costs are high for dental implant treatments, but at typical fees they are also the most profitable procedures.


The final reasons some treatments are expensive is practitioner time. Some procedures are tedious and time consuming. These procedures, like root canals, veneers and bonding, require the practitioner to dedicate a lot of time to one patient. A premium is added to the fee to pay for the practitioner to devote so much time to one person, which takes away from the ability to see several other patients.


Did this post on dental fees make cents? This dentist in Edmond, OK would love to hear about it.
Please comment on this post on our Facebook (


If you are looking for an Edmond dentist, we are excited to accept new patients! Call the office at
405-44-SMILE today for an appointment. You can always email me at
I answer my own emails!



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