I have a back, lower wisdom tooth that cracked some time back. Since then, I’ve been having problems with it falling apart little by little. More and more pieces are falling off. I don’t think there is any more pulp but the tooth is sensitive. I’m wondering if I can just let this slowly fall out by itself or if I have to go to the dentist to have it extracted. I’m dead broke so am hoping I can avoid the dentist. I lost my business during COVID, then got a job with another company and they’ve recently had to shut down as well. What do you think?
I am sorry for all the losses you have sustained during COVID. Losing something you built up yourself is heartbreaking. Compound that with the stress of not feeling like you can afford the care you need and I really feel for your situation. There are a couple of ways this can go. First, it is possible that the tooth will just slowly fall out on its own with no problems for you. However, there is also a possibility that an infection will get into your bone and cause pretty serious problems.
One thing that confuses me about your description is the idea that you don’t think there is any more pulp but the tooth is sensitive. If the infection got into the pulp then the tooth should be dead and it would not be sensitive, unless you are talking about sensitivity to when you are biting down instead of being sensitive to air.
Given your financial situation, here is what I am going to recommend. As long as you don’t have any swelling around your jaw, you are safe to wait this out and hope the tooth dies away on its own. If you start to have swelling, then you have an emergency dental situation and you need to see a dentist as soon as possible.
There are affordable dentists who would be willing to work with you on the payment issue. This would be especially true for someone in your situation who needs real help.
My 20 year old has an impacted wisdom tooth. The dentist thinks they will have to remove some of the bone. He wants her to go under general anesthesia for the procedure. Is this necessary because of the bone? I’m uncomfortable with using anesthesia unnecessarily. There are so many risks and we have a relative with serious complications to anesthesia. What would your recommendation be?
Bear in mind I haven’t examined your daughter. However, at her age I would be very surprised if general anesthesia was warranted. With a twenty year old, the bone is still very pliable because there is not really any cementum accumulation at the roots. She is in the ideal age range to have her wisdom teeth extracted. As she ages, that cementum builds up and makes the procedure more difficult with a greater risk of complications.
My recommendation would be oral conscious sedation. This is sometimes called sleep dentistry. However, don’t push your dentist into that. His suggestion signals to me he is not completely comfortable with the procedure. Your daughter would be much better served finding a dentist who is experienced and confident. To find that dentist, simply do an internet search for “Sedation Dentist”, find out if they do wisdom tooth extractions, then schedule a consult with them.
If they recommend general anesthesia as well, there may be some complicating issues the first dentist did not explain to you. My guess is your second dentist will think oral conscious sedation will be perfectly sufficient.
There are always additional risks with general anesthesia. With your family history, it seems like that risk is higher. I’m with you on this one and would not want to jump into that unless it were absolutely necessary.
I keep reading these stories about patients who’ve died during sedation. It’s starting to freak me out. I’m scheduled to get my wisdom teeth extracted and planned on using sedation to make this go easier. I’m an anxious patient even when I just go in for cleanings. Now, I’m a wreck and not sure what to do. Can I die from this?
Laura M. – Alabama
Let me put your mind at ease. While there are risks with any procedure, it is extraordinarily rare for patients to die from dental sedation. And, most of the time when they do, it’s usually those patients who were put under anesthesia.
It’s more likely the type of sedation you’ll get is oral conscious sedation. This doesn’t lower your respiratory functions the way anesthesia does. You’ll be conscious, but completely relaxed. This allows the numbing medication to do its job giving you a pain-free experience.
If you’re an anxious patient, it will be important you get the medication. Dental anxiety tends to increase your metabolism causing you to burn through the numbing medication.
Talk to your dentist about your concerns. Ask about what type of monitoring they do. You can ask them to have oxygen on hand and monitor your heart, though many sedation dentists do this as a matter of course.
I’ve been having trouble with my wisdom teeth. I think they need to be removed, but I just can’t afford it. Can I just get an antibiotic from my doctor? My face is starting to swell, so I’m getting worried.
Jack K. – Orlando, FL
You have reason to be worried. It sounds like you’ve got an infected wisdom tooth and it is spreading. Our mouths are dreadfully close to our brains. you certainly don’t want it spreading there!
Though antibiotics help, they will only help if the infection is physically removed. Your teeth are different from other parts of your body. The infection has to be removed.
There are affordable ways to deal with this and it does have to be dealt with, for your own safety.
Talk to your dentist. I’m sure he or she will be willing to work with you.