Coping with bad teeth
--an appendage of: "How to succeed at being poor"
(updated: January 20th, 2019)
You're at:
craigeroo chi atty out look dotty com

* At age 75, I have rotten teeth --which is 3rd world "normal". I get them pulled, one at a time, when the pain won't go away. The dental clinic before last quoted $2500 to save just one of them (meaning: a root canal and maintaining it as a dead tooth). That same dentist office was charging about $250 (with X-ray and such) for the extraction. More recently I found a local branch of a dental chain (Advantage Dental) which does extractions for about $100, doesn't try to up-sell me on expensive work, and their dentist seems skilled at extracting teeth with minimal pain.

* Proper dental repairs are simply not in a Social Security based budget. I have two molars that still meet. After that, it will be soft foods for both of us. (My wife has a very old set of dentures, which she only uses for photos.)

3/13/2018: * The upper of my two molars which still meet was giving me a lot of pain. It has started (mildly) about 2 weeks earlier. At first, (a Listerine type) mouth wash and an aspirin at night stopped the pain --completely. I hoped the problem would go away (as tooth aches sometimes do), but the time between mouth/tooth washing kept getting shorter --and I could no longer chew. The Advantage dentist worked me right in for a look-see, coated the cavity with a nano silver solution plus a fluoride sealant (that's the latest approach to treating cavities, with good reports^) and put an instant setting plastic patch into the hole --to hold me until that tooth could be scheduled for extraction. 3 months have gone by (at this writing) and the patch is still working (although several other teeth are hurting now).

^ If I recall the article correctly, this new treatment, when used to save teeth, is applied 3 times --in order to be fully effective. New tooth enamel forms (at least for young people). Perhaps a filling is used if there's a deep cavity. The traumatic experience of drilling out decay is avoided, much of the procedure can be done by a supervised dental assistant, and the costs are far less than traditional drill and fill treatments. (I'll find a link to include here.)

The silver particles (nano size, I gather) are small enough to penetrate the tooth and kill off infection. (Normally, I'm leery of nano-technology, but ultra fine ground silver has been used for ages to kill infections, with impressive results. I'm guessing it's an old byproduct of using silver in photographic film emulsions.)

Although I had high expectations for the repair, the pain came back in a few hours --with a vengeance and mouth wash no longer stopped it. I had to revert to what had stopped the pain of my earlier tooth aches: ice water. Until 2 O'clock in the morning, I was swishing my bad tooth about every 100 seconds. Then: it stopped hurting --!-- and I finally fell into a deep sleep. Perhaps it took the silver particles that long to penetrate to the depths of the decay and kill it off.

* While swallowing aspirin helped before, it made no difference to the new pain episode. I've been both encouraged and warned against applying aspirin directly to tooth and gums --supposed to be hard on the gum tissue, but I tried it anyway, and it didn't help.)

The bill for a look-see would have been $50, but my X-ray and patch job ran the total up to $118. The extraction will probably be another $100 or so. (This was a new to me dentist, so a look-see and X-ray were certainly in order.)

** Aspirin-- At this writing (June of 2018), I've been nursing what feels like an odd heart problem: I'm fine in the morning and my blood pressure is something like 100/70. As the day wears on, however, my BP goes up and I feel pangs (not "pains", exactly) in my chest with gentle exertion (like bending over to feed the cats). By night time it felt really serious. My BPs initially hit 160/100. My primary care provider prescribed me 10mg Lisinopril pills (one a day) which helped a little, but the heavy lifter pill turned out to be the lowly aspirin. 1/2 of a regular aspirin (162mg) is reliably bringing me (almost normal) relief within half an hour, and that lasts for 3 to 5 hours (or until bed time, when I must be careful not to lay on my left side). A night's sleep leaves me feeling normal again.

* In the course of taking aspirin every day (getting in to see a cardiologist is taking months!), AND having problems with my rotten teeth, I've found that the same doses are also reliably stopping my tooth aches.

Be sure you have fresh aspirin on hand. Large bottles tend to go bad, so for the little bit aspirin costs, smaller bottles seem like a good idea.

* I was starting the day with a heart attack preventative "baby aspirin" (81mg) that's "enteric" coated. While this might be the best way to take aspirin, it's slower acting. Also, recent studies have shown it doesn't really help prevent heart attacks. Regular aspirin use, however, does tend to cause excessive bleeding --and I did start developing blood infiltrations around insignificant bruises on the back of my hand --so I stopped the regular taking of low dose aspirin.

For decades I've taken the occasional aspirin to relieve stress and physical discomfort, and in order to get a nice night's sleep (running a fan helps a lot too). Aspirin is wonderful stuff, but take care not to over-do it, which can lead to intestinal bleeding --maybe even an aneurysm.

* Those oils and extracts at the health food store didn't help alleviate dental pain at all (for me), plus I ran into confusion about strengths and dilutions. (Same goes for alternative flea medicines for your dog: useless in my experience --probably unhealthy and irritating for the animal as well.) The alternative meds/supplement industry seems unable to police its own ranks.

** If you Google around (year 2018) there are interesting developments about dentists packing tooth cavities with a bit of aspirin, which leads to the tooth regenerating itself --! (I found this at Medical Daily.) The procedure to do this is still in development --and it's not a good idea to apply aspirin to a bad tooth at home. Another article, from a Colgate (brand) web page, had it that chewing (rather a lot of) aspirin, for extended periods of time, deteriorated teeth. Well that's not surprising, since aspirin is acidic. It also irritates the soft tissues of your gums.