One of my top left molars hurts and I am wondering what is the best dentist to see for it? I’ve had similar problems with this tooth before and I have a filling in it that is probably 12 year old or so. The tooth hurts and my gums around the tooth is swollen too. I am starting to feel some pressure in my sinuses. I am wondering if I should see an oral surgeon first, find a general dentist, or maybe even if I should see an ENT. Where do you suggest I start? Lenox M

Lenox,

The best dentist to see is a general dentist. Your description of a painful tooth and swollen gums sounds as if the tooth is infected. If so, a root canal treatment will be needed.

A progressive infection can affect your gum tissue, as well as surrounding teeth and bone. It’s best to schedule the appointment as soon as possible. Eventually, the living tissue inside the tooth will die. Although the tooth won’t hurt if the tissue and nerves inside it die, the infection will remain. So don’t wait to see if the pain will improve, because even if it does, the real problem will still be present.

It is not unusual for infection in an upper tooth to affect your sinuses. The pain can radiate upwards. Sinus problems often affect the upper teeth anyway—making them painful and sensitive.

Ask friends or family members for a recommendation on a general dentist. Let the receptionist know that your tooth hurts and your gums are swollen. An appointment will be scheduled with you as soon as possible to address the infection and your pain. If you need a root canal treatment, depending on the dentist’s schedule, it might be performed the same day. If you are one of the millions of people who are nervous about dental appointments, let the receptionist know upfront. The dentist can provide mild sedation to help you relax.

You will need a follow-up appointment to receive a dental crown, which will cover and protect the tooth from further damage.

This post is sponsored by Colorado Springs dentist Dr. Joseph Rota.