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Dentistry/I got a temp crown from a drunk dentist and now I'm freaking out


Dr. Finnk,

I've had my dentist Laura (not her real name) for 7 years and she has always been wonderful. However, things have taken a turn. Two weeks ago I snapped a big chip/chunk off my second molar on the left side. Fortunately there was no pain. I saw Laura. She filled in the gap with a temporary filling. Then we discussed solutions. We agreed that a crown would be best. I also agreed to gold--I already have a gold crown on the tooth the problem tooth hits, the second molar on the bottom (from another dentist many years ago). I like gold's durability.

At that meeting I thought she appeared a little "off"--her appearance is usually well-groomed but on that day she seemed disheveled. I dismissed it, thinking she must have been stressed that day.

Then, five days ago, I went in for the temporary crown. Laura seemed even more disheveled than before. I swear she also looked a bit cross-eyed. My mistake was not walking out as soon as I saw her--but again I assumed she must have been under some stress. My appointment was right around the end of her work day.

During the impressions for the gold crown and the drilling Laura made some weird comments to her assistant, such as, "Oh you changed your hair today." The assistant replied "No that was yesterday." Things like that. Plus she made a joke about seeing someone drinking alcohol on the sly and Laura said "My only question was, where did she put it!" I.E., how could she, Laura, get some. And she kept pulling off and replacing, over and over, my temporary crown to "get it right."

I'm telling you all this so you know that I'm not exaggerating or making this up. Laura has previously been VERY professional; but she's high-strung and I can only speculate that her personal and professional stresses have made her turn to the bottle. Sadly I did not figure this out until my crown impressions had been made and she was drilling merrily away.

So, in shock, I stayed there until it was over. Then I left. I'm scheduled to return in a month to get the new crown. Here are my questions.

1. Laura mentioned afterward in passing that there had been "quite a bit of blood from the front part of the tooth." I picked up on this and asked if the blood had come from the tooth or the gum. She didn't give me a straight answer. There was a lot of blood, for sure. This was odd because although there was a bit of decay at that point under the existing filling, there was not much decay. This bleeding, is that normal? Does this bode ill for the tooth once the permanent gold crown goes on? If it was your tooth, what about this (the blood) might concern you going forward?

2. It's been five days and I still feel a dull ache from the tooth. If anything it hurts worse now than it did the morning after. Is this normal?

3. I'm never going back to Laura for any more dentistry, obviously. But I still need this crown and I've already paid for it, $1,700 to be exact. My appointment to get the permanent crown is in a month. You better believe when the receptionist asked if I wanted a morning or afternoon appointment, I said, morning. However. If it was you would you go back to get the crown put on (i.e., would you have to), or could you tell her you wanted the gold crown when it was done and then take that crown to another dentist?

4. Anything else I should think about or be aware of?

Thanks for your time and consideration. I've read your other answers and you seem very knowledgable.


Dear jack,

I'm always saddened to learn about a dentist who has developed issues in their life that they find difficult to control.  

About the tooth and crown.  Chances are that the tooth was prepared properly, that the excessive bleeding came from the gums around this tooth, and that the crown will fit fine.  

I am concerned about the ache.  The bite is probably high on the temp. This should be adjusted asap.  


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Howard Finnk, D.D.S., P.A., CEO


I am a Family, Implant and Cosmetic dentist. I will answer questions on any aspect of dentistry and matters relating to the smile, gums, jaws and lower face. Member American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, and Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. I have served as District Council Member of Alpha Omega, as well as serving for one term as its President. I am also a member of The Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, and Mount Sinai Hospital Guild. I have served as a Volunteer for Project Dental Health and The Tri-County Dental Health Council.


Having attained over 30 years of clinical experience in private practice in Michigan, in 2001 I was re-certified by taking and passing the Florida State Dental Board Examination. After moving to Florida, I spent nearly 10 years re-honing my skills while working as an Associate Dentist for several large dental groups. In September, 2004, I was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at Nova University's College of Dental Medicine. I am certified in placement of Mini Dental Implants, and I am Director of The Florida Implant Center ( On March 1, 2010, at the age of 62, I began all over again by buying a dental practice near my home in the Fort Lauderdale area. As sole owner and Chief Dental Officer of the new Nob Hill Dental Center (, I can now carefully provide dental care to patients who care, all within a caring, joyful environment. Over my career lifetime, I have provided thousands of diagnoses, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, periodontal treatments, TMJ therapies, partials, dentures and extractions, and dozens of implants for my patients. The only aspect of dentistry with which I have very little experience is orthodontics.

American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, Atlantic Coast District Dental Society, Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, Alpha Omega Alumni Association, and American Association of Dental Implantologists. Formerly, American Academy of General Dentistry, Michigan Dental Association, Macomb Dental Society, Detroit District Dental Society, Tri-County Dental Health Council (a charitable dental care organization)

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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology from Wayne State University Doctor of Dental Surgery from University of Detroit College of Dentistry Adjunct Clinical Professor, Special Needs Department, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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