My tooth really hurts, but I don’t have any money

I’ve got pretty bad teeth. I am missing several of my back teeth, and now I have an infection or something in one of the only molars I have left. The swelling along my jaw looks terrible! It is really embarrassing.

I don’t have a job right now, or any insurance. I am estranged from my family, so there is no one I can ask to help with any kind of medical or dental expenses. Is there anything I can do on my own to treat the infection? I am in a lot of pain.

Maria in Grand Haven

Dear Maria,

Before we offer advice on what to do, we want to make very sure we tell you what to avoid. Don’t take oral antibiotics to try and get rid of the infection without FIRST having the tooth treated. Here is why that is so important: the infection is inside a tooth, where antibiotics can’t reach it. If you treat the tooth without addressing the source, you will simply make sure that the bacteria that survive are stronger and more resistant to treatment.

An infection in a tooth is a potentially serious situation. An untreated infection could spread to your brain, or cause dangerous swelling in your throat. You really must have this addressed before it becomes far more serious and even potentially life threatening.

The infected tooth needs a root canal treatment, after which it may need to be protected by a dental crown. If that is too expensive, or if the tooth is too damaged, it may need to be extracted. When your fortunes improve, you might consider a dental bridge or dental implant to replace the missing tooth.

Ask at your local social assistance agencies if they know of a clinic where you can get this work done. Many communities have a method of connecting people in dire need like yourself to dentists who will complete the work for free or at a greatly reduced price with a payment plan. Be persistent – it is very important that you get this work done!

Good luck to you.

This blog posted courtesy of the office of Lafayette Louisiana cosmetic dentist Dr. Malone.