QUESTION: I am 25 and female. I have 2 molars that are broken, both on the bottom one on each side and 2nd from the last (not including the wisdom teeth that are trying to come in on each side). The molar on my right is missing half and cutting up my tongue pretty good, while the left molar is missing about 1/3 (This had been filled about 9 years ago but fell out about 2 years ago). Now it is extremely painful to chew on either side and I've been eating soft foods with the front of my mouth. I have 6 months to wait before my dental insurance kicks in, would it be wise to ask for them to just be pulled or what should I do at this point?
ANSWER: Dear Amber,
As a dentist who is committed to helping people to keep their teeth disease-free for life, my first reaction would be "GET TO YOUR DENTIST TODAY" and get those teeth fixed, if they can be fixed. Have them removed if they cannot be fixed.
I have learned after 40 years of dental practice, that most people are not as interested as I am in keeping their teeth. First there are the 25 million or so who have lost all their teeth and are happily (or unhappily) wearing dentures. Next there are about 15 million who have lost many of their teeth, and are wearing partial dentures. And then there are an estimated 100 million people who walk around with chronic gum disease. They feel no pain. But their gums bleed and swell. So they find themselves spitting blood after every time they brush. But somehow, for them, blood dripping from their mouth is OK.
So now back to your question. The answer is up to you. If I were your dentist, and you were sitting across from me right now, I would recommend that you do everything in your power to keep and repair your teeth. However, to do this might cost you thousands of dollars, even with dental insurance thrown in. (Dental insurance usually has annual maximum benefits that do not exceed $2,000)
Now looking at your reality: How long has it been since you last went to the dentist for a check up and cleaning? How much do you really care about keeping these teeth that are bothering you? Isn't it true that if you really cared, you would have seen a dentist long ago about them? If you have not (or if you have, but did not act on your dentist's advice) then the answer is that you really don't care much until they get to this point where they are causing a problem. Now you ask me "What should I do?"
My answer will always be keep your teeth if at all possible. If not possible, have them gently removed as soon as possible. Your damaged teeth will become a source of major infections in your sinuses and in your face if you don't act soon. So SEE YOUR DENTIST TODAY. Have this conversation with him/her. Your teeth and your health are important to me. Your teeth and your health will be important to your dentist.
Please let me know tomorrow that you contacted your dentist today, and that you have made plans to see him or her for the consultation you desperately need now.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for your honest response. Because of my financial situation I had contacted a dental clinic that's attached to the local community college here last month, they are only able to do xrays but they are willing to do a panoramic Xray for only $20 and even direct me to a few clinics that might be willing to work with my situation. The only problem is that they are so booked with appointments mine isn't until February.
Now, I've asked around and the ER at the hospital here if there are any places that can work with me for payment options, the only other place that hasn't closed down is a place called St. Mary's but they only do extractions. I've contacted several Dentists near and with a 2 hours drive of my area, none of which will do payment options but all will do this Care Credit option which I tried to apply for but with all my hospital bills from the past (I had kidney issues since I was a child and the doctors finally just removed it because they couldn't save it anymore) I have horrible credit and got declined.
I have also tried medicaid but in my state, unless you are either under 21 or have a child, you do not qualify no matter your situation or medical need.
The last time I went to a dentist I was 19. Had a full cleaning done, had fillings and was told that I have weak teeth and sensitive gums(Which I've heard since I was a kid). I was told at 12 I would need braces, and would need corrective surgery to fix an over bite as well as to remove my wisdom teeth. My dad thought that wasn't necessary and told them no. I disagreed since I found out a few years ago but felt it was too late to change all of that.
I certainly want to save these teeth but after being told several times that I won't be able to afford the thousands of dollars and no dentist willing to work with me on monthly payments I have gotten tired, frustrated, and depressed with dealing with the severe pain.
It sounds to me like you've been through the mill, and your finances are tapped out.
I wish I knew where you live. I might be able to help you find a clinic or a center that could provide you with dental care at reduced rates. But I don't.
Your first step should be to contact your local dental association, tell them your story, and ask them if they can help. Next, contact your local social services agency. They may know publicly funded clinics that might help. I belong to Donated Dental Services. This is a national organization with a nationwide network of dentists who donate their services to patients like yourself. I just completed a case for them last month. Contact them and see if they can refer you to a dentist in your area.
Last, find out if there is a dental school in your area. Dental schools often provide care at significantly reduced rates.
When you have completed your quest, let me know what you found. I will add your information to my list, so I can help others in your position to find dental care at low or no cost.