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So it might sound a little crazy, but I had a root canal done a few years ago. Since then I haven’t been to the dentist, and can’t currently go due to financial problems and no health insurance. Since it’s been so long the cap or synthetic tooth, has fallen out and is now revealing a metal rod. The rod seems to be moving back and forth. What would be my best option? Can I remove the metal rod myself? Should I just leave it till it falls off or till I can get to a dentist?
Heather from Pennsylvania
You really need to go to a dentist for a simple replacement of the temporary filling material. And knowing that your finances are strained, you may be able to talk some compassionate dentist into doing this very cheaply or even for nothing at all. Hopefully this tooth hasn’t been exposed too long, which would require a re-doing of the root canal treatment. Goodness, a dental assistant could do this for you—just get some Cavit and plug it into the hole. Otherwise, you’re going to lose this tooth. Cavit is a simple temporary filling material that comes out of the tube as a paste but when placed in a moist environment like your mouth it hardens. Since it requires no mixing or tray of tools, it can be placed in a few seconds.
When a tooth has a root canal treatment, the root canal filling material then needs to be protected against the oral fluids. Otherwise, saliva will seep down and loosen that root canal filling, which allows the tooth to become re-infected. This causes failure of the root canal treatment. The tooth would then need a new root canal filling in order to save it. So the dentist will put in a temporary filling and then plan when to finish the treatment of the tooth, probably protecting it with a crown.
When I was in practice, knowing that some patients could get into your situation and not come back for the crown, I would fill the tooth with a bonded core material, often using a metal post. If they didn’t get back right away, this would hold up for several years. Maybe something like that has been done in your situation. If the metal post is still present, hopefully there is still time to save the root canal treatment, but the hole needs to be sealed.
– Dr. Hall
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.