Is a Second Opinion on Cavities Necessary? (Expert Advice)
Matt Hannan, DDS
Updated: November 30, 2023
According to a recent study, 90% of adults have had a cavity before, and 1 in 4 adults currently have an untreated cavity. But when should you seek a second opinion?
As a dentist, I have seen many patients who have questions about their treatment options for cavities.
This article discusses the benefits, risks, and when it may be necessary to get a second opinion on cavities from a dentist’s perspective.Recommended Reading: Dental Second Opinion | The Ultimate Guide
Is a Second Opinion Necessary?
Getting a second opinion on cavities is an important decision that can significantly impact oral health.
I’ve seen countless patients for a second opinion in my clinical practice.
Most patients have been cavity-free for years before learning they need a filling from their dentist. This comes as a shock; before treating it, they desire confirmation from another dentist.
While it’s always best to get treatment from your regular dentist, getting a second opinion can help ensure that you’re getting the best care for your teeth.
For example, if an unbiased dentist disagrees with the original dentist’s finding, you may not need a filling. Cavities range in severity and are indicated by distinct stages.
A cavity localized in the enamel has a chance to “heal,” whereas a cavity that has progressed into the dentin is less likely to heal over time.Recommended Reading: Online Dental Second Opinion (Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Telehealth)
Why Get a Second Opinion?
Sometimes, cavities can be misdiagnosed or overlooked. In these cases, a second opinion can provide additional insight and ensure you receive the proper treatment.
This can give you peace of mind and ensure your dental health is in good hands.
Seeing another dentist allows for alternative dental procedure options. Different dentists may have different approaches to treating cavities.
A second opinion can help you understand the pros and cons of other options and make an informed decision about your care. This can help you choose a treatment plan best suited to your needs, lifestyle and budget.
Some cavities may require specialized treatment, such as hard-to-reach or painful areas. In these cases, a second opinion from another dentist may be indicated.
Cavities localized in the enamel can remineralize with prescription-strength toothpaste, fluoride trays and oral hygiene improvements. I’ve seen countless patients remineralize cavities following this protocol.Recommended Reading: 5 Benefits of a Dental Second Opinion (Dentist’s Perspective)
Risks of Getting a Second Opinion
- Additional cost – Getting a second opinion can add to the cost of your treatment. Occasionally dental insurance will cover a second opinion; however, check with your insurance company before the appointment.
- Delayed treatment – Waiting for a second opinion can delay your treatment’s start, leading to cavity progression or subsequent cavities. Harmful bacteria that cause cavities can spread to adjacent teeth.
- More confusion – Although clarity is desired when you seek a second opinion, occasionally, more disarray ensues. For example, if the second dentist finds more issues than the first (something you were not expecting), it could lead to further confusion and frustration.
When to Seek a Second Opinion
A second opinion can also be beneficial if you have a complex medical history or multiple dental issues.
A second opinion can help you understand the relationship between your medical history and dental health and ensure you get the best possible care.
For example, treating periodontal disease should be the priority if you are diagnosed as needing a dental implant but also have periodontal disease (gum disease).
In addition, if you failed to seek a second opinion and the implant was placed, harmful bacteria from gum disease can attack the implant site and cause the implant to fail.Recommended Reading: Why Dentists Recommend Different Crown Options & Materials
A second opinion can also be helpful if you are uncomfortable with your dentist or have concerns about their expertise or communication.
In addition, a second opinion can provide a fresh perspective and help you find a dentist with whom you feel comfortable and can communicate effectively.
For example, if your dentist doesn’t offer alternative treatment options and you are strapped for cash, a second opinion may provide alternative treatment options for your budget.
Cavities are highly preventable and difficult to treat if left unaccounted. Let’s take a closer look at cavity statistics for perspective.
- According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, 91% of adults have had a cavity at some point in their lives.
- The same study found that adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have an average of 3.28 decayed or missing permanent teeth.
- Older working-age adults 50 to 64 years had the most significant prevalence of decay (96%).
- Decay is more prevalent in people who currently smoke than in those who never or formerly smoked.
- 1 in 4 adults ages 20 to 64 years has had untreated decay.
- Compared to their counterparts, black and Mexican American adults, younger adults, those with lower incomes and less education, and those who currently smoke were more likely to have untreated decay.
MDA Verification Report
What is the My Dental Verification Report, and why is it important?
Our board-certified dentists will review your case and provide an unbiased second opinion on how you should move forward with your proposed dental treatment.
We respect all dentists suggested treatment; however, we desire clarity for your dental needs. You should understand what dental work is necessary to move forward with treatment confidently.
How We Help
- Avoid unnecessary dental treatment
- Potentially save you thousands of dollars
- Information reviewed privately and securely
- Unbiased assessment that brings you peace of mind
- Quick response time to review the report at your convenience
- Clarity and confidence moving forward with dental treatment
- Completed from the comfort of your own home
With My Dental Advocate, patients of all ages now have an unbiased, expert second opinion to securely review their proposed dental treatment and gain the knowledge to improve their oral health.
Step 1: Complete Questionnaire
The questionnaire includes a brief medical history, oral hygiene habits, and an opportunity to explain your dental concerns.
Step 2: Upload X-rays
Contact your provider to request your x-rays or take a photo of them at the office. You can also upload dental photos, current treatment plans, periodontal probings, and other supporting documents.
Step 3: Submit Payment
We will privately send your information to a board-certified dentist who will securely assess your case and provide a detailed second opinion for your proposed dental work.
Step 4: Receive MDA Verification Report
We will email your MDA Verification Report second opinion within hours for review at your convenience and from the comfort of your home.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
My Experience & Expertise
Cavities are a common dental issue, but seeking a second opinion can provide additional insight and ensure you receive the proper treatment. However, it is important to weigh the benefits and risks and only seek a second opinion when necessary.
As a dentist, I always recommend that my patients communicate openly with me and ask any questions they may have about their treatment options.
Knowledge is power when cultivating healthy dental habits. The more informed you are, the better positioned you’ll be to prevent avoidable and potentially costly dental procedures for you and your family. Watch for future blog posts, where we’ll continue sharing important information, product reviews and practical advice!
- Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Adults (Ages 20 to 64 Years). National Institute for Health, Reviewed 2023.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oral Health Surveillance Report: Trends in Dental Caries and Sealants, Tooth Retention, and Edentulism, United States, 1999–2004 to 2011–2016. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services; 2019.
- April JADA finds more than 1 in 5 US adults have untreated caries. American Dental Association, JADA, Reviewed 2023.