Category Archives: Affordable Dentistry

Dentist Left the Tip of an Instrument in the Patient’s Tooth After a Root Canal

During my root canal in March, my dentist told me that the tip of his file broke off and fell into the canal. He said the file is sterile, so he wasn’t going to damage my tooth and try to remove it. He said he would put a post in the tooth and put a crown on it.

I asked him to place a temporary crown until I think about what I want to do with the tooth. I haven’t been able to return to the dentist yet. Is it okay to leave the tip of the file inside my tooth? Lots of people go to this dentist because his fees are lower than others, but I don’t want cheaper care if it means a dentist will be careless. Thanks. Jules

Jules,

Metal files can break easily, and it’s happened to a lot of dentists—even those who don’t have lower fees for services. A broken piece of a file can be challenging to remove for many general dentists. If the tip of the file is left, a dentist would need to navigate around it and seal the apex or tip of the tooth root. If the broken piece is blocking the apex, it decreases the chances of successful root canal treatment.

If the tip of the instrument irritates your tooth, you might need root canal treatment later. Cementing a post could make it impossible to retreat the tooth.

Side-by-side diagram of an infected tooth being cleaned out with root canal treatment (left) and a healthy tooth to the right.
An endodontist can resolve previous root canal issues

Your safest option is to ask your dentist to refer you to an endodontist, or root canal specialist. Endodontists have special tools to extract the tip of the file and fill the canal of the tooth. Although your dentist might not want to refer you to a specialist, you can insist on it or find an endodontist on your own. It’s good that you asked for a temporary crown until you decide what to do about the tooth. Don’t risk losing your tooth. Visit an endodontist.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Three Causes of Tooth Pulp Sensitivity and Irritation

In early February, one of my bottom molar teeth cracked. The tooth had an old filling in it, and I felt it crack while I was at dinner with friends. At the time, I had only been in AZ for about two months. I relocated and still don’t have a job yet, so I found a dentist with reasonable fees. She said I needed a crown. She prepared the tooth and put on a temporary crown. The crown made my gums sore, and it hurt to chew on that side of my mouth. I also told my dentist that I felt some sensitivity in the tooth whenever I drink anything cold.

That issue wasn’t resolved before she placed my permanent crown later in January. The pain got worse, so I returned to the dentist she took x-rays and poked around the crown to see if I felt any pain or pressure. Of course, my tooth didn’t respond to any of her tricks, so she told me to wait two or three months for it to settle down. My tooth hurts daily. It’s not constant pain, but it hurts and is now sensitive to hot food. I’ve entered my symptoms in Google, and everything I read sounds like I need root canal treatment. Is my tooth dying? Thank you. Eun-ae M. from Flagstaff

Eun-ae,

Thank you for describing your symptoms and the history of your tooth pain. We recommend that you call an endodontist, or root canal specialist.

Side-by-side diagram of an infected tooth being cleaned out with root canal treatment (left) and a healthy tooth to the right.
Root canal treatment can save your cracked tooth

But without criticizing your dentist, we want to clarify a few facts.

Causes of Tooth Pulp Irritation and Sensitivity

  • Cracked tooth – A crack can easily affect the tooth pulp (living tissue, nerves, and blood vessels) inside your tooth. An infection can cause inflammation that chokes the pulp and makes it die.
  • Aggressive preparation for a crown – Significant sensitivity after your dentist prepares a tooth for a crown can result from improperly sealing the temporary crown or aggressive tooth preparation. But a tooth can be coated with a desensitizing product to limit the discomfort.
  • Cementing the crown – A temporary crown on a molar tooth should be made of durable material and bonded with soothing cement to help the tooth nerves calm down. Permanently cementing an already irritated tooth can cause further complications and the need for root canal treatment. The increased sensitivity you’re feeling might be due to changes in the tooth ligament near the root. An endodontist can see that, but most general dentists won’t recognize it as an issue.

Instead of allowing your general dentist to do any more work on your teeth, we recommend that you see a specialist.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Chipped Your Tooth? A Natural Looking—and Cheaper—Alternative to a Porcelain Veneer

Yesterday I fell and chipped the outer corner of my front left tooth, and I’m afraid that I cannot afford to have a dentist correct it. The chip is so large that there is a dark space, like a sideways triangle, in my smile.

I’ve been frantically looking online to find what type of treatment a dentist might recommend. Most of the search results come up with porcelain veneers. Based on what I read, my concerns are that I cannot afford to spend $1000 + on a porcelain veneer. I’m paying my way through medical school, so fixing my smile is essential. But I am afraid that anything cheaper than a veneer won’t look natural. – Thanks. Anika

Anika,

A cosmetic dentist can affordably repair a chipped tooth with chairside dental bonding—made with silica or quartz that is bound with dental resin. Experienced cosmetic dentists stock a variety of composites to replicate the variations in shade and translucence of your natural teeth.

But a general or family dentist who doesn’t have an artistic eye or advanced training in aesthetics won’t be able to produce lifelike results. That’s why most general dentists recommend a porcelain veneer or a crown to restore a chipped tooth.

Before-and-after photos of a chipped tooth repaired with dental bonding.
Dental bonding can repair a chipped tooth more affordably than a porcelain veneer

Although Dental Bonding Is Affordable, It Requires Skill

Dentists apply composite freehand, while you’re sitting in the dental chair.  What’s the process? What will your cosmetic dentist do to restore your tooth?

  • Select shades of dental composite to replicate the characteristics of your tooth enamel
  • Roughen your chipped tooth
  • Apply, shape, and sculpt the composite
  • Polish it to match the gloss of your natural teeth

Carefully a select cosmetic dentist. You can look at several dentists’ websites to find information about their advanced training and experience in cosmetic dentistry.

Miranda Lacy, DDS of Plano, TX sponsors this post.

Affordable vs. Cheap Dentures – 5 Clues to Knowing What You’ll Receive

Affordable dental care and cheap dental care yield different results for your oral health. If you’re looking for affordable dentures, there are ways to ensure you still get quality replacement teeth.

Ask Your Dentist about the Process

You can schedule a consultation to ask your dentist about his or her protocol for providing dentures that look and feel great. You can also ask about options to make dental treatment affordable for you. Make a checklist of the items below to keep track of your dentist’s process. If you’re hesitant after the discussion, you can schedule a consultation with another dentist.

1.      Consultation

Diagram of a lower snap-on denture for information on Plano TX affordable dentistry from Dr. Miranda Lacy.
An affordable dentist can provide snap-on dentures

During a consultation, you and your dentist will discuss your concerns. You’ll learn about your options for dentures, including implant overdentures. Your dentist will also listen as you describe how you want your new smile to look. He or she will discuss the costs and how treatment can be made affordable to you.

2.      Impressions of your mouth

Dentists who want to achieve the most accurate fit for dentures take two-step impressions. And some dentists use three steps. Although you can find cheap dentures, the attention to detail ensures you get value from affordable dental care.

  • Preliminary – Your dentist takes a preliminary model of your jaw to make custom trays for a final impression. This step produces an accurately fitting denture. Although many dentists use stock trays, they are less accurate than a custom mold of your mouth.
  • Border impression – Some dentists use a heaver impression material to record the portion of your mouth that the denture border will touch. The border of an upper denture regulates the suction that will keep your denture in place. An accurate border means a better-fitting denture.
  • Inner impression – The next step is to use a medium impression material to register the details of the soft tissue inside the border.

3.      Wax model

Your dentist will make a wax model of the denture for you to put in your mouth. It’s a guide to let you know how your replacement teeth will look and feel. It doesn’t represent an exact fit of your final denture. But if the denture teeth are too large or too small—this is your opportunity to request changes. Otherwise, affordable dental care becomes expensive when you’re not satisfied and need to repeat the process to get new dentures.

4.      Fit check

When your denture is ready, you’ll try it on. Your dentist will check your bite (the way your upper and lower teeth fit together) and ensure the denture is comfortable. Sometimes relining or adjustments are needed.

5.      Follow-Up Appointments

Your affordable dentures will be worthwhile if your dentist schedules follow-up appointments to ensure your gums are healthy and your dentures are functioning well. A poor-fitting oral appliance can lead oral health issues that cost you more money in the future.

It’s More Affordable to Get Dentures Right the First Time

Although a dentist with a multi-step process might have higher fees, in the long term, preventing costly mistakes will be more affordable for you. Precautions will save you time and money. Look for a few experienced dentists in your area. Schedule consultations and take notes of the steps each dentist completes to ensure your affordable dental care isn’t cheap in quality.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Looking for an Affordable Way to Improve the Look of a Partial Denture?

Are you bothered by the look and feel of a metal clasp around your tooth that keeps your partial denture in place? Is there an affordable way to conceal the clasp and enhance your smile? We’ll give you a realistic view of what can—and what can’t—be done to improve your smile.

What Can Be Done About the Metal Clasp?

A traditional partial denture is secured with a metal clasp around the tooth on either side of it. Some patients complain that when they smile, the clasp shines in the light and makes it evident that they are wearing a partial denture.

For a minimal charge, your dentist can sandblast the clasp and give it a matte finish to prevent it from reflecting in the light. A dental lab can also do it for you.

What Your Dentist Can’t Do

The metal clasp needs to remain flexible around your teeth. Your dentist is unable to bond anything to it that might conceal its color. The clasp can weaken or break in the process of trying to conceal it. And it the loss of flexibility will increase the discomfort around your tooth.

An Affordable Alternative for Your Partial Denture

Photo of a valplast partial denture - an affordable alternative to a metal-clasped partial.
An affordable alternative to a metal clasp on your partial denture

Modern removable partial dentures have plastic clear or gum-colored claps that blend with your gums. Although the clasps are less sturdy than metal ones, they are also less noticeable and won’t be obvious when you smile. It is an affordable alternative for people who are unable to invest in dental implants to replace missing teeth.

Which Appliance Should You Request?

Before you request a specific dental appliance, consult with a cosmetic dentist who will examine your current partial denture and discuss your options.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX cosmetic dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Think You Can’t Afford to See a Dentist for TMJ? 3 Surprising Facts that Might Change Your Mind

Click. Pop. Ouch! If left untreated, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder can be painful and uncomfortable. But what if you can’t afford treatment from a dentist?

Annoying TMJ Symptoms

You’re probably already experiencing the signs and symptoms of TMJ:

  • Jaw stiffness, clicking, locking, or popping
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Chronic head or neck pain

Treatment from a dentist can relieve the symptoms, but how will TMJ affect your life if you can’t afford a dentist?

How Will It Impact Your Life?

Photo of woman holding the right side of her face, who might need Plano affordable dentistry from female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Jaw pain can limit your ability to chew well—and that affects your digestion. If speaking or laughing become uncomfortable, it can affect your mood. Ringing in the ears and head or neck pain throughout the night will disturb your sleep. And lack of sleep can contribute to a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

What If You Can’t Afford a Dentist?

Dental treatment might not be as expensive, invasive, or time-consuming as you think. A June 2019 study published in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology reveals some good news. The study included 162 patients who suffered from chronic TMJ disorder. Treatment of the symptoms included self-awareness therapy, jaw exercises, and the use of custom oral appliances. After 20 months of treatment, what were the results?

  • Pain – After treatment, the average pain score fell from 6.9 to 2.0.
  • Chewing – Most patients benefited from a large reduction in pain while chewing.
  • Quality of life – The overall quality of life for the patients improved.

Three Keys to Relief

The patients in the study received meaningful improvement and significant relief of their symptoms. What were the three keys to relief?

  1. Self-awareness of your oral habits
  2. Exercises
  3. A custom oral appliance

That might be all that’s needed to decrease your pain and discomfort and improve your quality of life.

So What’s the Cost?

If you have dental insurance, you’ll save money on the cost of care. The cost of relieving your symptoms is more affordable than you might think. Even out-of-pocket costs are more manageable if you find a dentist who offers payment plans.

Occlusal guard (mouth guard/oral appliance) – Depending on where you live in the country, the out-of-pocket cost for an oral appliance to relax your jaw is $600-$800. Some insurance plans pay half of the cost or more.

Exercises – Your dentist will show you exercises that you can do at home to loosen your jaw muscles and increase your comfort.

Self- Awareness – Oral health habits, including grinding your teeth, the position of your tongue and jaw when at rest, or holding your head or face with your hands, can affect your jaw health. As you learn what habits trigger pain, it will increase your awareness of your habits and help you control them and your discomfort.

Treatment Delays Are Costly

If you think you can’t afford dental care, the delays in getting treatment will make the condition worse. When the pain and discomfort become unbearable, that means the problems have progressed. And dental care will cost you even more money in the long term. We recommend that you schedule an appointment with a dentist who has training and experience in TMJ diagnosis and treatment.

Plano, TX dentist Miranda Lacy, DDS sponsors this blog. Dr. Lacy offers payment plans and financing to help make dental care affordable for you.

3 Ways to Make Dental Care More Affordable

I’m trying to find ways to make my dental visits more affordable. I have a new dentist whose recommendations are so different from my previous dentist. She asked me to schedule an appointment for a fluoride treatment and full-face x-rays. My check-up appointments now have out-of-pocket expenses that are over $150.

Can I refuse the services my dentist is recommending, or should I search for a dentist whose fees are lower? Thanks. Daphne

Photo of a woman in a dental chair with a dentist and hygienst on either side of her; for information on affordable dentistry from Plano TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Ask your dentist about affordable alternatives for care

Daphne – Your patient rights allow you to refuse any dental service, but before you do, there are several factors to consider.

  • Speak to your dentist. Ask her why it’s important for you to have fluoride treatment and full-face x-rays. Adults who are at risk for decay or who have sensitive teeth still benefit from fluoride. Most dentists will do a full face x-ray (panoramic x-ray) every three to five years. But if you’re in a high-risk category, have bone loss, or have been considering orthodontics or dental implants, your dentist will request new x-rays before recommending treatment.
  • Avoid referring to the additional services as unnecessary. Listen carefully to your dentist’s explanation about why you need each treatment that she recommends. It could be that her philosophy on preventive care, although different from your previous dentist, is better for your oral health. Although the cost of care might be more expensive at her practice, you might have better long-term results.
  • Get a second opinion. You may have to switch to a dentist who thoroughly explains your treatment options and what you can expect from them. But don’t base your decisions about dental care on cost alone.

This blog is sponsored by Dr. Miranda Lacy, a Plano affordable dentist.

5 Facts about Stubborn Canker Sores If You Can’t Afford a Dentist

Photo of woman holding the right side of her face, who might need Plano affordable dentistry from female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Canker sores (recurrent aphthous stomatitis) are small painful sores inside your mouth that occur frequently. They are not contagious. Although a sore will usually go away on its own, what if it doesn’t? And what can you do to treat it at home if you can’t afford a dentist?

What Causes a Canker Sore?

Although the exact cause of a canker sore is unknown, a variety of factors can trigger it, including:

  • Irritation in the mouth by things such as aggressive brushing or dental work
  • Oral injury
  • Sensitivities to food or sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Stress and hormonal changes
  • Certain diseases, including celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome

What Are the Symptoms and Signs?

If a canker sore is developing, you will feel oral pain or burning. In a day or two, the sore will appear. The sore is a slight bump that is round or oval. The center is usually yellowish gray, and the border is red.

How Long Will It Last?

A sore usually lasts four to seven days. If your sore lingers, or if it gets worse, you might need to see a dentist.

What Can You Do About It?

What if you can’t afford a dentist? You can try over-the-counter pastes such as Anbesol that contain benzocaine, which will help speed the healing process and make the sore less painful.

What If Home Treatment Doesn’t Work?

If your efforts to treat the sore don’t help—or if it’s getting worse—schedule an appointment with a dentist for an examination. You may need a prescription for oral or topical medication or mouth rinse. It is possible that the sore is not a canker sore, but your dentist can make that determination. If your budget is limited and you don’t have dental insurance, ask the office representative what can be done to make treatment affordable for you. This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Miranda Lacy, DDS

How Can You Get Affordable Dentistry Without Dental Insurance?

I’m wondering what my options are for finding cheap dental care without insurance. In June 2018, I was laid off from my job. In March of this year, I was hired by as a contractor, so I don’t qualify for benefits. I admit that I haven’t taken the best care of my teeth. My stressful employment situation has increased my teeth grinding habit, and last week I felt a tooth crack while I was asleep. I realize that something needs to be done before the crack spreads. Is it possible to get cheap dental care even though I don’t have insurance, or is the issue too serious for treatment to be affordable?

Thanks, Kleo

Dear Kleo,

We understand how your economic difficulties can cause stress and contribute to increased bruxism (teeth grinding) and additional issues with your teeth. We have a few suggestions you can consider to receive the dental care you need even though you don’t have insurance.

Avoid Cheap Dental Care

It’s probably best to avoid seeking cheap dental care. If a dentist is able to significantly cut costs, you should consider if it will include shortcuts and compromising the quality of dental care you receive.

Find Quality Care You Can Afford

Photo of a woman in a dental chair with a dentist and hygienst on either side of her; for information on affordable dentistry from Plano TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Ask your dentist’s office how care can be made affordable
  • You can get dental insurance on your own. Major insurers have policies similar to what is offered through an employer, including the level of coverage. Your premiums will cost more than they would if the insurance was provided through an employer who subsidized the premium costs.
  • Find a dental practice that offers special financial arrangements. Call a few dental offices and ask if they offer a cash discount or if the practice partners with a financing company like CareCredit®. CareCredit offers interest-free payment plans if you pay off the balance within a specified time period, otherwise, you might owe retroactive interest.
  • Receive treatment in phases. If you need multiple procedures, your dental office can provide a treatment plan and let you know the order in which you should receive each procedure. Often treatment can be provided in phases if it doesn’t compromise your oral health.
  • Tell your new dentist about your teeth grinding habit. You can cause further damage to your teeth if they aren’t protected from teeth grinding. They can break, loosen, and create issues with your jaw muscles. Your dentist will provide you with a nightguard to protect your teeth while you sleep. You can also learn techniques to keep your tongue, lips, and jaw in the optimal position to prevent teeth grinding throughout the day.

 In summary:

  • Search for high-quality dental care.
  • View each dentist’s website or call the office for information on payment options if you don’t have dental insurance.
  • Schedule a consultation with at least two dentists to discuss your oral health, treatment options, and if the treatment can be completed in phases.

 This post is sponsored by Dr. Miranda Lacy, an affordable female dentist in Plano, TX.

3 Things to Consider When Getting an Affordable Dental Crown

A dental crown protects a badly damaged tooth. Left untreated, the tooth can become infected and eventually need to be extracted. But is it possible to find an affordable crown that will last?

Depending on your dentist and where you live in the U.S., the cost of a dental crown can vary. But the average cost is $800-$1800. If you have dental insurance, your insurance company can provide you with the average cost of a crown in your area.

What about an Affordable Dental Crown?

The purpose of a dental crown is to protect a tooth. Several steps are involved:

  • Your natural tooth must be precisely shaved to ensure the crown covers it.
  • Accurate impressions of your natural tooth need to be taken to ensure the crown fits and doesn’t disturb adjacent teeth.
  • The crown must be correctly bonded to your natural tooth to ensure it is stable and doesn’t hurt when you bite down.
  • The way your teeth fit together—your bite—must be properly measured.

If your goal is to find an affordable dentist, your choice should not be based solely on cost. If a dentist takes shortcuts or gives you a cheap crown, the results can be costly in time, your oral health, and money.

Before-and-after photos of porcelain crowns, which are available from Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
An affordable crown should still look natural

What Are the Risks?

A cheap dental crown can result in several problems, including:

  1. Your bite – If your bite is off, it can put too much pressure on the crown and cause it to crack. You’ll have to spend time and money getting another crown.
  2. Complications – TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues can result from can bite can cause jaw, head, ear, and neck pain. TMJ treatment can include therapy and a nighttime mouthguard, both of which will cause additional expense.
  3. Improper bonding –  If proper bonding techniques are not used, the crown can come off. The crown can be lost, or you’ll need an additional appointment for re-bonding. You could need a new crown.

What’s Next?

Don’t act hastily. Ask friends and family members for a recommendation of a dentist. Many people have dental crowns, and someone you know might have received a quality crown from a skilled dentst. An affordable dentist will work with your budget through payment plans or financing to ensure you can pay for treatment. But avoid cheap dentistry. It puts your oral health at risk.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.