Wisdom tooth chip right after my insurance ended. D'oh
November 29, 2008 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I seem to have chipped a tiny bit of my upper-left wisdom tooth. My dental insurance also ran out a month ago. Now what?

This evening I was trying to dislodge a piece of food but instead took out a tiny chip off my upper-left wisdom tooth. It doesn’t hurt but I can feel the jagged edge with my tongue. My dental insurance also ran out a month ago and I will not have one until I start a new job (January at the earliest, possibly as late as March).

What should I do? Is this something that needs to get fixed immediately before it gets worse? Or can I just be extra careful, taking all preventative measures to prevent bacteria from accumulating there until I have the insurance to cover this? I am not broke and can spend a few hundred bucks to fix this (but I fear that wisdom tooth removal may be in the thousands).

I live in the bay area if it matters.
posted by special-k to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
is it just a chip off the "exposed" part of the tooth, or was it a chunk where food can get caught in? cause if it doesn't hurt and there isn't a gaping hole, I'd just ignore it. or, as I've done in the past with minor chips, knock down the sharp edge with some sandpaper and call it done.
posted by gjc at 8:00 PM on November 29, 2008

Response by poster: It is off the exposed part but it is clearly an indentation where food can get caught. There is very little room to even stick a finger (it's way in the back), so I guess it is a trap.

I was checking the benefits on my temporary insurance (Anthem bluecross short term plan) and I see this listed under my summary of benefits:

Inpatient Dental Benefits
Coverage Period From Injury Date All 6 Month(s)
Inpatient Dental Maximum Days All 3 Day(s)

Does this mean if it does get bad enough to require extraction, my insurance would cover it?
Yes, I will call them when they open on Monday but I appreciate any ideas/suggestions.
posted by special-k at 8:05 PM on November 29, 2008

I am not broke and can spend a few hundred bucks to fix this (but I fear that wisdom tooth removal may be in the thousands).

If you opt to have the tooth pulled, the national fee range for wisdom tooth removal is $150 to $300 (the lower end is charged in rural and low-income areas). But the fee range for impacted wisdom tooth removal is $350 to $650 (not including general anesthesia, if necessary).
posted by terranova at 8:08 PM on November 29, 2008

you won't need to get the tooth pulled until it starts hurting. if you want, get into a dentist now to have him sand it down for you--which will help keep the food out. that shouldn't be too expensive.

otherwise, i've had some chipped teeth for years. not a big deal.
posted by lester at 8:14 PM on November 29, 2008

from someone who has had major dental issues..

Get it checked when you can afford it... a chip is not a problem of an emergent nature. It is unlikely it needs to be pulled.....
posted by HuronBob at 8:19 PM on November 29, 2008

I had a rough edge on a tooth where a filling fell out and my dentist just filed it down and called it good.
posted by sugarfish at 8:32 PM on November 29, 2008

I have the same issue with a wisdom tooth in the upper right, a small chip that I could feel with my tongue. My dentist filled it in with a little something for $30, and just keeps an eye on it to see if it develops into something that would need a full blown filling, a cap, or removal (unlikely, as my wisdom teeth give me no problems). Until you can get into the dentist, you can get a little self-filler kit for ten bucks or less at the pharmacy and give that a try - although it is difficult to administer way in the back.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:40 PM on November 29, 2008

I chipped a back tooth, had a rough edge for years. Eventually it wore smooth. Still there.
posted by rokusan at 10:27 PM on November 29, 2008

You are only talking about a couple of months and you don't have pain, you can keep the area clean and floss without difficulty?

Your only complaint about the tooth being chipped is that it is sharp? A couple of options that I can see:

1> Keep your money, take a nail file and lightly sand the sharp points and then be extremely diligent in keeping that area clean, floss daily to keep any food and bacteria from packing in between the teeth.

2> See your dentist, get an xray to confirm no other pathology present, He can smooth it down, or fill it if that is all it needs. If it is a severe enough break and he recommends a crown or extraction than you can at least buy enough time until you do have your insurance in effect. This appointment may cost between $75 to $300 depending on how he patches you up.
posted by Jazz Hands at 7:25 AM on November 30, 2008

Whoa whoa whoa don't file your own tooth. You don't want to remove living tooth matter. Even dentists try to avoid this.

I would recommend stopping by the pharmacy and picking up a tube of Cavit. You'll have to reapply it every now and then, but if you don't brush too vigorously you can make a single application last a couple weeks (or longer, I've heard). It'll prevent the sharp edge of your tooth from cutting your cheek (and subsequent infection.)

A tube of Cavit should only set you back a few bucks will probably last until you can get some dental insurance.

Again, for emphasis, please don't take a file to one of your molars. If you can't find any Cavit (which would greatly surprise me) you can substitute with crazy glue - but Cavit's way, way better.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:18 AM on November 30, 2008

Aren't you supposed to get wisdom teeth pulled anyway? My dentist is he'll bent on taking mine out.
posted by anniecat at 10:14 AM on November 30, 2008

*hell-bent, that is...
posted by anniecat at 10:50 AM on November 30, 2008

This can be patched with composite for the same cost as filling a cavity (i.e. a couple hunderd dollars or so), unless it's a deep crack, an exposed nerve, etc.
posted by availablelight at 11:14 AM on November 30, 2008

Good lord Baby Balrog, you would think I said to take an orbital sander and take that sucker down to the gumline!

If special-k has a razor sharp point that is lacerating his tongue, there is nothing wrong with rubbing a nail file a couple of passes to blunt the point. That will not interfere or change the dentist's ultimate treatment for the tooth, even if it restorable with a simple filling.
posted by Jazz Hands at 3:39 PM on November 30, 2008

In my personal (three-chipped-teeth) experience, chipped teeth don't matter unless they hurt or look bad- and yours is doing neither. So in your shoes, I'd keep it clean and otherwise ignore it.

But I'd get a Sulcabrush. It's a single clump of toothbrush bristles on a handle, trimmed into a point, and $4 at the drugstore will usually get you two of them. That'll keep food out of the chipped area at night so you don't get a cavity there. Maybe have one in your desk at work for after lunch, too.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:28 PM on November 30, 2008

Aren't you supposed to get wisdom teeth pulled anyway? My dentist is he'll bent on taking mine out.
posted by anniecat at 10:14 AM on November 30 [+] [!]

No, you only need to consider having them out if they are causing problems. See this previous thread.

(I am 34 and have all of mine; my father is pushing 60 and has all of his.)
posted by Violet Hour at 7:13 PM on November 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

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