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Val123's avatar

Should I go to the dentist for my swollen gum problem, or can a MD take care of it?

Asked by Val123 (12679points) March 17th, 2010

I ask only because insurance pays 90% of MD expenses, but only 50% of dental expenses.

My gum, right where my wisdom tooth used to be (pulled out several years ago) is really swollen and it hurts. It’s been like this since Saturday, 5 days now. I didn’t poke it or burn it or anything that I can think of. I have no idea what could be causing it, but it sure makes it difficult to eat.

Also, any thoughts as to what the problem could be?

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24 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

You’d just be incurring a medical co-pay… for a referral to a dentist. It sounds like there’s an abscess of some kind, and I doubt that you’d find an MD who would feel competent or comfortable (or have the malpractice insurance to cover) treating that.

Just_Justine's avatar

It could be an abscess or you could just have gum disease. I reckon a dentist would be better.

Val123's avatar

@Just_Justine No gum disease. I just went for a 6 month check a couple of weeks ago. If it were an abscess you’d think it would feel hot and be discoloured, but it’s not.

@CyanoticWasp You’re probably right. But the dentist is closed today! Hopefully I can get in tomorrow….

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Personally, I’d recommend dentist. I don’t even have the right tools to see inside someone’s mouth very well!

Sorry. Dental insurance sucks, I know.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Val123 can you go to another dentist on an emergency basis? Most will realize that this is an emergency (pain-wise, anyway) and will make time for you, even without an appointment.

gailcalled's avatar

Are you running a fever or showing other signs of an infection?

Val123's avatar

@Dr_Dredd Thanks…I was hoping a doc would answer. That’s kind of what I thought. Also, the dentists have the X-ray machines specifically for the teeth right there.

Well….It’s not really an emergency. I mean, I’ve been dealing with it for 5 days now. What’s one more day!

@gailcalled Hi. Well, no I don’t think I’m running a fever (wish I had a Mom around to tell me, cause we don’t have a thermometer) but I am sooooooooo tired. I slept for 12½ hours last night and I really think I could still go crawl in bed for the rest of the day. Come to think of it…..I’ve been sleeping like that since this cropped up.

Val123's avatar

Ah! There you are @Rarebear! Dentist it is then.

thriftymaid's avatar

I would go to the dentist first.

Val123's avatar

Dang you guys. Since I posted this question it’s gotten worse. I can feel pain running up into my ear and down the side of my throat. I shouldn’t have said anything. :(

trailsillustrated's avatar

go to the dentist or you could try gently irrigating it with hydrogen peroxide solution- sounds to me like you might have a seed or popcorn kernel stuck under the gum, which can cause a minor infection that sounds exactly like what you are describing, very common in that area of the mouth, especially wisdom extraction sites- they will gently currette the area and irrigate it- maybe xray too- good luck POOKS

trailsillustrated's avatar

do you have a root canal in that area

Val123's avatar

@trailsillustrated Good idea, Snookums! :) I actually did floss for that very reason, but nothing turned up. I’ll go tomorrow because I’m starting to feel pretty awful.
I’ve never had a root canal, and my wisdm teeth have been gone for 30 years. Whoa. Did I just way “wisdm” instead of “widom”? Why, yes I did! Don’t know how to fix it so I’ll just let it stand!

trailsillustrated's avatar

call for an emergency appointment even if they are closed they’ll have somebody on call. feel better and let us know pooky

Val123's avatar

QUIT MAKING ME LAUGH SNOOKUMS! It hurts!

trailsillustrated's avatar

hehehe you and @sleepdoc are the only people I have baby names for now go call and get your appointment pooky pook bear

gailcalled's avatar

Call now, before the office closes. It is 4:38.

Rarebear's avatar

@gailcalled is right. Get the hell off the computer and go see someone about this.

Val123's avatar

@Moms @gailcalled and @Rarebear Done. Will you feed me chicken soup now?

It wasn’t so simple though. I called my Dr, Dr. P, and his answering machine said they’re closed till Monday, and referred me to Dr. W. Called Dr. W. Closed until Monday. However, that machine at least gave me a cell number to reach Dr. W. Called cell. Talked very briefly, call dropped. I called Dr. M’s office. Closed until Monday. WTH??? Are all the dentists being run out of town by leprechauns or what?? Finally got a hold of a 4th dentist who was actually open. They wanted $108 up front. squeak! I said I really didn’t have a spare $108, and insurance will pay for it anyway. She goes away, comes back and says, “Well, come on in.” In the middle of this Dr. W’s cell phone is beeping through. It was his wife (they’re on the road) saying Dr. W could call in an antibiotic for me. So I called them back and said, “Great!!” Then called the 4th Dr. back, said cancel the appointment.

So, thanks to your nagging my friends, I got out of there for less than $4.00! Whereas if I had waited to go in it would have been quite a bit more.

(Thanks for your concern guys….)

gailcalled's avatar

How annoying. And how risky to prescribe an antibiotic over the phone. But make sure you call your Dr. on Monday morning and also buy a thermometer. You should be seen unless the discomfort clears up dramatically.

(I repeat; buy a thermometer. They last forever and come in handy when you least expect it.) xox Mom by proxy

Rarebear's avatar

I agree with @gailcalled. I would never give an antibiotic for something like that sight unseen.

Val123's avatar

Well, it is better already!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I think most dentists would recognize the swelling (and the pain it causes) as being part of an abscess / infection that was going to require the antibiotic anyway. So as long as he establishes that you’re not going to have an allergic reaction to one (the thing I’d be most concerned about without taking a history), that would be part of the prescription anyway. I’ve never had a dentist run a culture prior to prescribing antibiotic, so that doesn’t seem particularly unwise or unsafe.

Glad you’re feeling better.

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