4 Dentists, 4 X-Ray Outcomes. Worried About Radiation Exposure

Aug 25, 2023
I visited the dentist regularly and had good teeth until Covid. I admit I was one of those scared to death and didn’t visit a dentist for 3 years except for 2 cleanings for fear of getting the dreaded thing. Finally, April 20, I went to a dentist nearest to where I live. I had moved my offices during Covid and my regular dentist was now 46 minutes drive away.

1) Dentist No.1 (April)

She did a whole mouth x-rays and determined I needed 19 fillings, some very minor than others. I thought it made sense since I hadn’t been to a dentist in a long time. She did a cleaning and the whole thing cost me $300 and both cleaning and x-rays took over 3 hours. But during the cleaning, she talked non-stop about her family, marital issues etc ( I'm a couples' therapist in private practice). At times, she'd stop cleaning and just talk. If felt like she needed a therapist than a client. Needless to say, I didn’t go back.

2) Dentist No.2 (May)

May 14, I visited another dentist. I told her about my other x-rays but she insisted she wanted to do her own and charged me $124. This time I needed only 17 filings. Hurray! She was very pleasant and knowledgeable, and I felt comfortable with her. Because I don’t have insurance (self-employed), she said she’d send me a 4 -phase treatment plan. She said it was important I do all the work within 6 months, so the condition of my teeth doesn’t get worse. She also advised to get started on Colgate PreviDent 5000 Plus Care Toothpaste to slow down decay. I bought it on my way home and got on it that night.

May 21, I went in for my first fillings appointment visit and they told me dentist 2 wasn’t in so another dentist would see me. This other dentist was nice too but fresh out of dental school. She filled 2 teeth.

My next appointment was 2 weeks later June 7, that was was cancelled too because dentist 2 was unavailable for 3 weeks. I was asked if I wanted to see the dentist I saw in my last visit and I said ok. So made appointment for June 14. I went in, waited 16 minutes, then she told me she would only do 1 tooth because she was running late with her appointments. Ok. I can relate.

Made another appointment for June 21 when Dentist 2 was expected back. They called and cancelled 2 days before the appointment but asked if I was okay with seeing the dentist who'd be working on me. I really wanted to see dentist 2 because the dentist who was working on me kept saying to the dental assistant Dentist 2 is better at this and asking the dental assistant what dentist 2 does this or that. I was losing my confidence in her, but she was really pleasant and seemed to want to do a good job, and I liked her. Took 45 minutes to fill only 1 tooth though.

Made another appointment for the following week July 3 but I had to cancel to fill in for a colleague who wasn't feeling well. I made another appointment for July 10 but it was pushed to July 15. Again, 45 minutes to fill only 1 tooth.

I made another appointment for July 22 but at this point in time, we’d done 4 out of 17 teeth in 2.5 months, and I’m worried the condition of my teeth will get worse by the 6-month deadline. I decided I needed to transfer to another dental clinic and see if they could work on me faster.

3) Dentist No.3 (July)

We made an appointment for July 27. I called the other clinic and cancelled the July 22 and told them why. I also told the new clinic I had x-rays done May 14, so they asked the other dental clinic to send the x-rays over. While we waited for the x-rays to be sent from the other clinic, the new dentist looked at my teeth, zeroed on the 3rs molar, and tapped it hard with some metal thing and asked if I felt pain. I said no. He asked if it was sensitive told cold or hot food. I said no. He asked if I had any pain, I said none at all. He said even if I felt no pain or sensitivity, I needed a root canal on my 3rd molar on the left side. Complete shock to me. No mention of root canal with my April 20 x-rays with dentist 1. No mention of a root canal with my May 14 with dentist 2 (her treatment plan didn’t have a root canal work).

Before the other x-rays came in, Dentist 3 did another x-ray of my 3rd molar on the left side and showed it to me. I had seen my previous x-rays blown up on a big TV screen above my head and this new x-ray on a computer screen looked so bad all the way to the root. I wondered how dentist a and dentist 2 missed it and dentist 2 even said, I’d be good for 6 months. I was on Colgate PreviDent 5000 and water flossing religiously.

Dentist 3 said I needed a root canal work right away. I asked how much it cost and he said $1300 plus but could go up to to $1600 if there was a complication. I told him I hadn't budged for a root canal because it was not in my other dentist's treatment plan. He said the other clinic had sent the x-rays and asked me how much I could afford for the visit and after I told him he said he’d do 6 other teeth that needed minor work and do the root canal the next visit. Cost me $1934, a few dollars shy of the $2000 I told him I could afford and 215 dollars difference from dentist 2 treatment plan. I was happy with the work he did on the 6 teeth though.

I had 4 teeth done in 2.5 months, 6 in one day was an amazing feeling. And dentist 3 said he'd do 4 more in the next visit. I could see myself beating that 6-moth deadline. But there was the problem of the root canal.

I made my next appointment in 3 weeks to do the remaining other teeth before doing the root canal on the left 3r molar. He works in many other clinics (cosmetic dentist) and this was the only available time. It worked for me too since I was worried about going from no root canal treatment plan to a root canal in 2 months. The morning of the appointment they called me to say the dentist would not be available but there was another equally good and experienced dentist who was available. Again, not learning from my lessons and probably too desperate I said ok.
4) Dentist No.4 (August)

She looked at the right side of my teeth said she’d do 3 teeth but the third molar on my right needed a root canal too. Yes, another root canal!!!. Dentist 3 had made no mention of a root canal on the right side only the left side. He'd told me he'd do all the 4 teeth on the right side in the next visit and it didn't include a root canal.

More x-rays were done on all the 4 teeth on the right which I wasn’t even shown. She asked if she should do the root canal. Again, I told her I hadn't budged for it because I wasn't expecting another root canal. She did the 3 teeth and left the 3rd molar on the right for the next root canal appointment.

Here is my problem. In 3 weeks, I’ve gone from no root canal to 1 root canal on the 3rd molar to 2 root canals on both the 3rd molar on the left and 3rd molar on the right. Each root canal costs $1300 or more, so that’s $2800 upwards.

At this point I think I need another opinion. I’ve done many x-rays in a short time and worried that the next dentist will also want to do more x-rays and this will be too much exposure to radiation. But I also have 6 months deadline before my teeth get worse. Any advice? Similar experiences? Dentist’s insight?
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