Last September, one of my bottom right molars cracked. A corner of the tooth came off, but I didn’t go to the dentist because I don’t have dental insurance and can’t afford to pay for services upfront. Now the tooth is crumbling piece by piece. The backside of the tooth is intact, and the tooth is hyper-sensitive. Will my tooth fall out without me going to a dentist? – Thanks, Jen
If your tooth is sensitive and decayed, it will eventually fall out. Although Dr. Lacy would need to examine your tooth for an exact diagnosis, the sensitivity in your tooth means that it’s irritated. And the pulp (living tissue) in the tooth can become infected. It’s best to have a dentist extract the tooth to prevent the infection from spreading into your jawbone or elsewhere in your body.
Three Factors to Consider If You Think You Need an Extraction
We’ll share a few scenarios with you to help you decide if you want to wait until the tooth falls out or find a dentist willing to work with your budget.
- Sensitivity in your tooth – You didn’t mention when or to what your tooth is sensitive. When tooth pulp is infected and dead, your tooth is sensitive when you bite. If it’s sensitive to cold or air, the pulp is still alive.
- Swelling – You didn’t mention swelling, but if your jaw area isn’t swollen, you can wait and hope the tooth decays away. Swelling indicates and infection that a dentist needs to treat right away.
- Tooth location – It’s easier for a dentist to access lower tooth nerves and treat the tooth without injected anesthetic into the tooth pulp. Upper teeth have more risk. You said the tooth is a molar, but you didn’t mention wisdom tooth. If it’s not a wisdom tooth, when the tooth is missing, the surrounding tooth will drift into the space and affect your bite. You can develop TMJ disorder, including jaw, neck, and ear pain, headaches.
Although it can be challenging to receive quality dental care without insurance, we suggest that you look for a dental clinic or dentists who will let you pay for care over time. At least have a dentist examine your tooth and explain your options. The dentist might be able to save the tooth and protect it with a crown. At least you’ll know what to expect and how the tooth will affect your oral health in the future, even if you decline treatment.
Miranda Lacy, DDS, an affordable female dentist in Plano, TX, sponsors this post.