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?

Paul

Dear Paul,

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

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.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.