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Thread: Oh no, my tooth is turning black! What should I do?

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    Faith's Avatar
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    Oh no, my tooth is turning black! What should I do?

    I know I should post this under Health, but I'm hoping for all the good advice I can get. Here's the story...

    My back upper molar cracked 3 years ago. The tooth had a huge old filling (from when I was 9 years old) running through the middle. In fact there was more filling than tooth. The filling itself was jogged loose when the tooth cracked. But oddly enough, the filling kept the two halves of the tooth holding together. Then last summer, the filling suddenly fell out. And yet still the tooth has stayed in place, though it's a little loose. Now I just noticed it's turning black! There is no pain.

    Meanwhile, the nurse at my building arranged for me to see her private dentist for an evaluation... that was in 2011 (the nurse is gone now, moved to NY). The dentist said I definitely need to get the tooth extracted, it was too far gone for a crown. So I could either pay $800 for just an extraction, or $2300 for a titanium implant. Good grief, both are impossible for me.

    As far as I know, those are my only two options. Here's where I need your advice. Do I have other choices? Has anybody here had a problem with a broken black tooth like this?

    I have no dental insurance. I have Medicare and Medicaid (called MediCal here in California), and I'm on Social Security, below poverty level, and living in supportive housing. But none of the medical services available to me will cover dental extraction. There is a homeless dentistry clinic in SF... I've been there to inquire. The receptionist said it's only for men by default, because homeless men sleep in the alley behind the clinic each night in order to be first in line the next morning before the cutoff. So no women can ever get in (unless they're crazy enough to sleep in the alley too). Then I found out that UCSF offers free examinations and sometimes free treatment, but only up to age 60. I am 62.

    What to do?? I'm scared!
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    SheLikesKitties's Avatar
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    Can you contact a hobo and offer him some money so he can give(sell) you his spot in the morning?
    A bad tooth can cause an abscess which causes death.
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  3. #3
    AmandaAlice's Avatar
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    Have you called around to other dentists? My OM's son has all four of his wisdom teeth rotting out and his dentist is charging $100 per tooth to get them pulled. He has no insurance either. So $800 to get one tooth out seems outrageous to me!
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  4. #4
    gorillagirl Guest
    sorry, how stressful for you, faith. one time i asked my dentist to treat a person with no money for free and she did it. maybe call around to a few female dentists and just ask. also wondering if you went to UCSF directly to speak to them about the age issue (as opposed to just calling on the phone or getting info second hand). could you just have the tooth pulled completely (cheaper) and live with the gap?
    Last edited by gorillagirl; 06-02-2013 at 11:47 AM.

  5. #5
    MissMuffins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faith View Post
    I have Medicare and Medicaid (called MediCal here in California), and I'm on Social Security, below poverty level, and living in supportive housing. But none of the medical services available to me will cover dental extraction.
    I don't understand...I know a lot of people on Medicaid who've received dental care through the program. You have to find a dentist who accepts it; many dentists and dental clinics place ads in the phone book, and list what insurance plans they accept.

    Do an Internet search for dental schools and dental technician schools in your area, contact them one by one, and ask if they offer reduced rates on dental extractions.

    Not all extractions are the same, and they can have complications. My guess is that the change in color indicates the tooth has died. That there is no pain yet indicates that a nerve isn't affected or there's no infection at this point. You really want to get it taken care of before infection develops. Double check with your case manager or whomever you meet with to recertify your Medicaid eligibility to make sure you don't have dental. It may take a series of phone calls, but it's important to see this through and not be easily discouraged or get frustrated with it and give up.

    MM


    Quote Originally Posted by Faith View Post
    As far as I know, those are my only two options. Here's where I need your advice. Do I have other choices? Has anybody here had a problem with a broken black tooth like this?
    Faith, I forgot to mention, re: the above quote:

    From February 2012-February 2013, I had 3 extractions due to fillings 30+ years old that were so big they caused me teeth to crack. Like you said, they were more filling than tooth. When the filling came out, sometimes part of the tooth came out. Other times it didn't and the tooth broke afterward.

    Two of my teeth came out without a problem. No dry socket, no spicules, no swelling, minimal discomfort. The third was a different story. The dentist told me ahead of time that it would be more involved; I woke up with 6 stitches in my gums and I did experience several normal complications afterward. If your tooth is "involved," I would not go to a dental school or dental technician school and have a student do it unless it's a top-notch school. (We have a dental assistant school locally that does simple extractions, and I would not have trusted them with my teeth because the extractions weren't simple.) I'd go to an experienced dentist OR an oral surgeon, depending upon the dentist's qualifications.

    Name:  FDI two digit tooth numbering.jpg
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    In this diagram, 18, 28, 38 and 48 are wisdom teeth. If it's a wisdom tooth or 17, 27, 37 or 47 (which are my back molars, since my parents had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 17), you can have any of those extracted without affecting your smile or your bite. The way I feel about it, if someone tried to talk me into getting a dental implant there, I would consider it the equivalent of "upselling" at McDonald's.

    As long as they match up--17 and 47, 27 and 37--it won't create a problem to lose both the top and bottom teeth. When they start getting all jack o'lantern (I can't think of another way to put it), like having 26 and 37 out, then it gets hard to chew there.

    I just had a bridge put in on 16, because it couldn't be saved and 15 & 17 needed crowns anyway. The way I smile, if someone was looking for it you could see that the tooth wasn't there and it did feel weird on my cheek.

    MM
    Last edited by MissMuffins; 06-02-2013 at 11:43 PM. Reason: forgot something
    "Our past is a story existing only in our minds. Look, analyze, understand, and forgive. Then, as quickly as possible, chuck it." ~ Marianne Williamson

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    gorillagirl Guest

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    whiterose's Avatar
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    I'm sorry you're going through this. Are there any dental schools in your area? You can get great dental care at dental schools for a greatly reduced price.

  8. #8
    gorillagirl Guest
    UCSF, as Faith mentioned, is our local dental school.

  9. #9
    chi77 Guest
    Since it's a molar I would just get it extracted. I would agree that $800 is ridiculous, it should be less than $200.

  10. #10
    Angel's Avatar
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    My son & husband both had to have a tooth (molars) extracted in the past year. The cost for both of them added together was less than $200.00. Ridiculous indeed!
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  11. #11
    VenusDarkStarLA's Avatar
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    Since it's a back molar, I would go with an extraction and worry about the details later. I'm in Los Angeles, and have no dental care program either but an extraction here costs around a $100 if you pay cash. $800 ??? That's just crazy!

  12. #12
    Faith's Avatar
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    Thanks everybody for your wonderful replies. I've been pulling the covers over my head the past couple of days, not wanting to face it, especially not all alone. But your responses have made me feel like I have friends helping me cope with this dentist phobia. I've never had that phobia before, but then, I've never had any serious tooth problems either, until this one.

    MM: Thank you so much. Your detailed response was really helpful in bringing me out of denial. You're right of course, that particular molar's removal won't show, it won't alter my face, and it will probably improve my chewing since I've been using only the right side to chew for the past 3 years!

    GG: Big thanks! The Denti-Cal link was a total revelation! I can't believe nobody ever told me about it, when I've been moaning about this cracked tooth all this time. The tragic part, though, is that California drastically cut back the dental program because of the state's budget crisis in 2009. But it appears that tooth extraction in a case like mine is still among the very few remaining services that Denti-Cal still covers. (At least it is if I've read the Denti-Cal FAQ sheet correctly.) The site includes a list of providers in SF who are accepting new patients, so now I can make some phone calls. Thank goodness for Yelp... I've already eliminated a couple of dentists on the list who came up with lousy reviews. But a couple of others look very promising.

    OK... I can do this... I think.
    "Leave the gun...take the cannoli."

  13. #13
    VenusDarkStarLA's Avatar
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    "OK... I can do this... I think."

    YES, YOU CAN! I've had back molar extractions (wisdom teeth) and the only real pain is the first couple of novacain/procain injections, and thereafter, you will only feel pressure as the tooth is removed. I am the biggest baby about dentists. I HATE it if they put their hand over my face (I almost slapped a lady dentist when she did this LOL) But if I could do it, so can you!
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    Devyn's Avatar
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    How is everything going? No-one should have to go through this; our healthcare situation is shameful and is in dire need of repair. Wishing you healing and a positive outcome.
    “Someday I want to have children and give them all the love I never had.” ~Marilyn Monroe

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    Angel's Avatar
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    And after the extraction do exactly what the dentist says, especially no drinking from a straw. My husband ended up with dry socket and he said it was horrible!
    there before the threshold, I saw a brighter world beyond myself

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