Teeth Need to Come Out, Not Come In Feet First
November 19, 2012 8:10 PM   Subscribe

I've waited too long, I need my wisdom teeth out now. They have just started hurting. Complication, no dental insurance or really any money. Help?

I got a quote from my old dentist, at like $700 (anesthesia not included. I really want anesthesia, two of my wisdom teeth are upside down). That is almost precisely all the money I have. I have since moved. Dentists around here won't give me a quote unless I come in for a cleaning, which is not unreasonable, except then I have to pay ~$60 to even get a quote. Is there another way to get this done I am not aware of? Thank you in advance for the help.

Context: Company cut our dental insurance unexpectedly, then laid me off. Been on EED for a while now. I don't have much in savings, or much time left on unemployment. Currently in Orange County, California.
posted by Garm to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: call around to dental schools and the like. teaching hospitals at large universities would be a good choice. i found this place on google, i'm sure there are more -
posted by facetious at 8:15 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's the Google search you want.

Free clinics and dental schools are both possibilities worth exploring.
posted by killdevil at 8:15 PM on November 19, 2012

Agreed, dental schools are the best bet. I also have known of at least one dental clinic run by a semi-retired OMF surgeon, but I think that sort of setup is pretty rare.

Also, I had my wisdom teeth out under sedation, but you can definitely do even impacted ones with local anesthetic, so I think you should discuss that with your dentist - I doubt anyone would be doing wisdom tooth extractions without any anesthesia whatsoever, impacted or not, so is this a question of whether it would be with sedation or not instead of just an injection of anesthetic that blocks the nerves to that area?
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:17 PM on November 19, 2012

Response by poster: None of the clinics around here do oral surgery, but I didn't see that Loma Linda University does. I'll call them in the morning, thank you.
posted by Garm at 8:31 PM on November 19, 2012

A lot of dentists have the ability to do payment plans as well. Also budget for either lots of Ibuprofen or, hopefully, the stronger stuff. I was in a world of pain after my four extractions (done along with four fillings AND a deep gum cleaning, all at 26 yrs old) and if I wasn't taking my vicodin promptly every 6 hours, it was a bad. scene. in. there.

No one in the history of post-antiquity-ever will extract a tooth without at least shooting you up with Novocaine. Or, like treehorn mentions, are you referring to sedation proper? Because I had sedation as well, which cost $400 ON TOP of the work I was having done, but let me tell you: sleep me away sandman, I remember exactly 0 seconds of the procedure, which is how God fully intended it, seeing as his sense of humor (or proof against his existence) apparently includes vestigial pain mounds in your two-sizes-too-small mouth.
posted by disillusioned at 10:21 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

i JUST went through this. about a year ago, i cracked a lower molar. i didn't do anything about it, and it gradually deteriorated. about 2 months ago, the pain started creeping in and I knew it was time to get it assessed (well, actually I knew the outcome would be removal).

dental schools ARE a good suggestion, so see if you can do that. most of the schools i found only did routine stuff; the surgical stuff was professionals only.

i applied for carecredit, and even though my credit is thoroughly trashed, I was approved. and usually they'll do at least 6 months interest-deferred, which helps. almost every doctor/dentist/vet will accept it. so if you have a pet and maybe need it for emergency it would handy in that way, too.

the removal, with only local anesthetic was $325. but oh DEAR was it uncomfortable. i was already loaded up on a double dose of vicodin because the weekend before my appt, the pain had gone from 'ow' to off-the-chart. and it was just one. when i had my wisdom teeth taken out and actually had insurance, they fully sedated me and I woke up not being in pain but already medicated. from then on it was just a matter of continuing the pain meds for a few days without lapse so the pain didn't get ahead of the drugs.

and make sure you keep the 'sockets' clean. they'll instruct you on how to do that, but it's super important..
posted by ninjew at 11:29 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing the dental school idea. I had mine done at a dental school here by the dean of the school because my mouth was so screwed up that he wanted to show the student how to handle teeth like mine.
posted by octothorpe at 4:39 AM on November 20, 2012

A lot of dentists have the ability to do payment plans as well.

Sort of. Dentists are quickly switching-over to handing their patients a flyer from CareCredit and telling them that's their payment option. Depending on the arrangement with the dentist, you can arrange X-months of payments interest-free (or deferred...Can't recall which.) But, the dentist doesn't carry the account.

Dental schools might be an option, though the one in my area was very limited as to the number of patients they took, and their cost was almost as high as a practicing dentist.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:42 AM on November 20, 2012

I had all four of my wisdom teeth (two impacted) out under local anesthetic (no sedation) and it was uncomfortable, but I would do it the same way again. Obviously your pain tolerance and level of dental anxiety and the amount of pain you're in before they start will vary. But if you don't have the money for sedation, you can get through this. Also, the prescriptions should not be very expensive, even without insurance.

I'm dubious that going to a dental school would shave enough off the cost for it to be worth your while. I think I had to pay at least a couple of hundred dollars to have my wisdom teeth out at a dental school, and I had insurance. And this was like eight years ago. And it can take a long time to get an appointment at a dental school clinic. I am usually a big dental school clinic advocate, but I'm not sure in your case.

$700, while expensive, doesn't sound all that unreasonable. Ask the dentist about a payment plan/CareCredit.
posted by mskyle at 6:53 AM on November 20, 2012

You can also look into medical studies. Just about everyone in Austin I know had their wisdom teeth removed for free by PPD as part of ongoing, post-surgery pain medication studies. And most ended up receiving Vicodin, anyway.
posted by lunalaguna at 8:02 AM on November 20, 2012

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