I have a damaged and decayed wisdom tooth on the lower left. It’s been slowly chipping away and the pulp seems to be disappearing. I’m in a bit of a pickle financially so I don’t think I can afford to have it extracted. Will it just decay away on its own or do I need to find a way to get to a dentist? I’ve been out of work since January and don’t collect unemployment because I was considered an independent contracted hire, not an employee.
Though it doesn’t feel like it now, there are a couple of good things working in your favor here. First, it is a wisdom tooth, and second, a lower wisdom tooth. Based on what you described this could decay out on its own without you having to do anything. Currently, I wouldn’t consider it a dental emergency. If your jaw starts to swell up than it is an emergency and you will need to get this extracted.
One thing I would do in preparation, as a just in case things get worse, is call around and see if there are any dental schools who might do this at a discount or if your city has a free-dental clinic for people in your situation. If neither of those are possible, call around to some dentists and explain your situation. Tell them you don’t need the work right now but ask if it were to turn into an emergency would they be willing to work with you financially. Many dentists are compassionate and would be willing to help.
A note to others who may be reading this post. This advice was specific to a lower wisdom tooth. Any other tooth would have to be handled differently. An upper wisdom tooth would be harder to get the area numbed if it turned into an emergency. With other teeth, such as a first molar, when you lose a tooth it has to be replaced. Otherwise, you risk the other teeth tipping into the area and throwing off your bite. This could lead to TMJ disorder and a lifetime of pain without treatment.
This blog is brought to you by Huntsville Dentist Dr. Steve Murphree.