I have had a decaying wisdom tooth for some time. I just don’t have money for the dentist. Lately, though the pain is going up my cheekbone toward my eye. Because it is not just in my tooth, do you think I could get antibiotics for a doctor for the infection? I have medical insurance, but not dental insurance.

Eric

Dear Eric,

Man in pain, grabbing his cheek in need of emergency dental care.

I don’t want you to mess around with this. Believe it or not, people still die from tooth infections. While you could go to your doctor and he might give you an antibiotic, all that will do is hold the infection back for a short time. As soon as the antibiotic finishes, the infection will flare back up.

Dental infections are different than other types because once the pulp of the tooth is infected and dies there is no blood flow in the tooth. The antibiotic cannot reach the root of the infection. The only way to “heal” a tooth infection is to physically remove the infected pulp.

Normally, if the tooth can be saved, the best treatment option will be a root canal treatment. However, with a wisdom tooth you would just extract it.

Affording Dental Care

I know that does not mean you have any more money. However, I want you to think about what will happen when this infection spreads. It is already moving up your cheek. It is not too far from there to your brain. An infection like that will be life-threatening.

One thing I would do is look for a dentist who advertises as an affordable dentist. This almost always means they are willing to work out payment options for patients. That will especially be likely in a situation such as yours where there is an urgent care situation.

Another option, if you can’t find a dentist willing to work with you is to work through Care Credit. This is a medical credit card that will pay for your care and allow you to pay it off. You have to have reasonable credit, but if you qualify their terms are remarkably good.

Please don’t put this off.
This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.