General Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

How urgently do I need to see a dentist if I've broken a tooth?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (25307points) November 3rd, 2010

Alright, here is the story. I don’t know much about dental type trouble, I’ve only ever had one cavity, and it was from my braces when I was a teenager.
2 years ago the filling from that cavity fell out, and I never got it refilled, because I had no pain. At the time it was originally filled, my dentist said that that those teeth (with the metal pieces that surrounded the whole tooth.. I don’t know the name) may be weak.

Well. The tooth broke today. I imagine it makes sense, since there was a hole in it for so long with nothing to support the side of the tooth. Still doesn’t hurt.

I had planned to get the tooth fixed when I have dental insurance (starting January of 2011.) Should I be in a rush to get it fixed now that it has broken, or am I okay to continue waiting until I have dental coverage? Again, no pain. It’s also near the back of my mouth, so it isn’t a cosmetic issue, and the majority of the tooth is there.

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15 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

My perspective is from that of someone in the same situation who decided to wait. I would get it fixed now. If you continue to chew on it, the tooth will eventually crumble, requiring an extraction and possibly a bridge or a more expensive implant. Or it will crack and require a root canal in addition to the filling. The question is $150 now, or $800 – $3500 later.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Okay, I’ll call in the morning. Thanks!

Jude's avatar

” Or it will crack and require a root canal in addition to the filling.”

Yup, and you don’t want to go there. (Nor do you want your tooth to crumble and require a bridge). The pain of the nerve dying – ouch. You don’t want that.

I would get it taken care of now.

cheebdragon's avatar

If it doesn’t hurt, just wait for your insurance. Unless you have a lot of extra $$$ sitting around…

Depending on which tooth it is, you might need a crown, and I can tell you from personal experience, that a good quality crown can cost $500—$3000 without insurance.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

How good is the dental insurance? Does it pay half, all, 90 percent?

plethora's avatar

Nah…you’ve done great so far not seeing a dentist. Seems to work for ya. Just wait til they all fall out, by which time you will have dental insurance and the false teeth will all be covered by insurance.

Your first mistake was not seeing a dentist throughout your childhood. Caviites are only one of many dental problems that can develop in a mouth that is not under regular dental care.

This is an “enlightened” age, dear. People go to health care providers for prevention of disease.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You can wait for the crown. You need to stablize the tooth with a temporary filling to give yourself a biting/chewing surface. Wow. My 14 dentists visits since May have paid off

tedibear's avatar

I would find a dentist and get a temporary filling. Let him/her know that you’re getting dental insurance in January and plan to get it crowned then.

lonelydragon's avatar

As the others have said, the sooner you go, the better it will be. Otherwise, you’ll end up wearing down the tooth surface when you chew, weakening the tooth. See your dentist and let him/her know about your income limitations. S/he can probably recommend a cheaper temporary fix or get you on a monthly installment plan so you don’t have to pay a huge dental bill all at once.

@plethora Maybe you haven’t noticed, but in this “enlightened” age, dental care is prohibitively expensive, especially for the uninsured, who often can’t afford preventative care.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@plethora I DID go to a dentist through childhood. You’ll notice that the only cavity I’ve ever had was a result of my orthodontist not properly fitting one of my brackets. Obviously if I was seeing an orthodontist, I was seeing a dentist.

I don’t think I will need a crown, the majority of the tooth is there. Just a small portion broke off, I’m assuming a filling will be all that I need for the whole thing.

plethora's avatar

@lonelydragon True in general. In her case she was being treated by an orthodontist, not something the poor or uninsured do.

plethora's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie An orthodontist provides services for straightening teeth, not for general dental health care. For general dental health care one needs to see a dentist in general practice.

This is just my perspective, but it always amazes me that people ask acute care health questions on Fluther. You have a problem with a tooth and need to know what should be done to resolve the problem There is only one person who can give you an authoritative answer, and that is the dentist who actually looks into your mouth. I would not trust the answer of a single soul on Fluther on this issue, including me. What the hell do we know? We’re not looking in your mouth.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I have no idea what the insurance will cover. I have zero information so far, only that it will kick in come January. If it is the same insurance that I had before, which I believe it is, it will cover 90%.

@BarnacleBill and @tedibear I don’t believe it will need a crown. The majority of the tooth is there, just a small piece broke off.

@plethora I certainly know the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist. My implication was that I can’t imagine many people would go to an orthodonist for cosmetic purposes and not see a dentist simultaneously. Again, this is the only cavity I’ve ever had, and it was small to begin with. It has been pain free and the filling fell out years ago. Another dentist looked at it, said it was clean, and I have been fine ever since. Now a small piece has broken off.. and since this is the only time I’ve ever experienced a problem with any of my teeth, I have no idea what would be considered “acute.” Considering that I have zero pain and discomfort, the break is small, and I was already told that the original cavity was drilled very clean – it doesn’t seem like an emergency to me. Which is why I asked, because I know that I am not very familiar with dental troubles. The majority says to see a dentist, and that is what I intend to do. But you should be a tad more sensitive to those of us who do not have dental insurance and who are all too familiar with the adage about money not growing on trees, so excuse me if I like to ask before I go throwing it around on a tooth that could potentially be pulled out with no ill effects. I’m not going to die from a chipped tooth.

tedibear's avatar

Ah, I missed the “small” part. Sounds like a filling to me. Way easier and less expensive. :~)

plethora's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie To each his or her own. I have never had dental insurance but think enough of my teeth to get expert advice. To me it’s a no-brainer.

a tooth that could potentially be pulled out with no ill effects
No tooth can be pulled without ill effects. The loss of a tooth without replacement will cause all the other teeth to shift, which could create its own set of problems.

The dentist who gave you the advice on the loss of the filling not being a problem mislead you, in my opinion. It would have been a small matter to replace a small filling, which may very well have prevented a piece of the tooth from breaking off now. The tooth, without the filling, has been receiving uneven pressure from chewing and that is likely what caused the weakening of the tooth resulting in a piece breaking off.

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