Coping with bad teeth
--an appendage of: "How to succeed at being poor"
(updated: March 13, 2018)
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* 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. I was last quoted $2500 to save just one of them (meaning: a root canal and maintaining it as a dead tooth). That same dentist office (and the one before) 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 the dentist there 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.)

Update - 3/13/2018: * The upper of the two molars which still meet was giving me a lot of pain, which started (mildly) about 2 weeks ago. At first, 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 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.

^ 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. 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 leary of nano-technology, but ultra fine ground silver has been used for ages to kill infections, with impressive results. I'm guessing it's a byproduct of using silver in photographic film emulsions.)

I thought maybe I could skate out on the extraction part for a few more months, and I still might --despite an episode which followed. Although I had high expectations for the repair, the pain came back in a few hours --with a vengence. This time, however, 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 could finally fall into a deep sleep. Perhaps the silver particles finally penetrated to the depths of the decay and killed it off. (Still no pain, 24 hours later.)

* 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.)

* Those oils and extracts at the health food store didn't help alleviate pain at all, plus there's confusion about strengths and dillutions. (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.