How do I go about finding an affordable dentist in San Diego to fix this tooth?
November 25, 2006 11:57 AM   Subscribe

How much would a dentist charge to remove a mostly collapsed wisdom tooth (in San Diego), and how do I go about even finding the proper one?

A year ago or so (possibly longer) a wisdom tooth that a dentist had previously decided to fill a cavity in rather than pull decided that it was sick of life and collapsed. At the time I could deal with it and pain was only present if I got exteme temperature liquids on it, and before too long I assume that the whiny nerve died or something because it became not much of a problem at all.

I've been making sure I kept it mostly clean and that things didn't lodge there and whatnot and things were all dandy until last night when brushing my things suck, badly (sometimes? in bursts? not constant, but it seems like an unexpected mouth movement will put me in agony for an hour or more).

Getting to the point, I think that this might need to be finally dealt with. I still can't really afford to have it done and just started a new job a couple of weeks ago. Can a normal dentist even still pull this? would I need to see an oral surgeon of sort since it seems that it might be difficult to extract? How do I even go about finding somewhere to have this done?

Sorry for the confusion and lack of conciseness; I just seem to find myself in a rather unfortunate situation and am uncertain how to even start with fixing it.
posted by Stunt to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I am not a Dentist. I used to manage a dental office.

No one in their right mind is going to quote you any kind of price for a dental procedure on the internet. It sounds like you've not been to a dentist in over a year. Go. You may need an oral surgeon, but you need to see a regular dentist first. Get a radiographic film of the tooth. You may also need a pano film because it's a wisdom tooth and because the bone back there does amazing stuff, and because if the wisdom tooth roots are tangled up with another tooth's roots, you'll need to know all of that when making treatment planning decisions.

While you're deciding which dentist to use, check out They can help you finance the dental care, adn can give you a list of dentists local to you that accept the plan. Do Not, Under any Circumstances choose you dentist only because they accept Care Credit. Pick a professional that you trust, and have a good rapport with.

When you say "in bursts" I think, infection. So, you may need a course of antibiotics before anyone will consider moving the tooth. Don't skip any of the medication you are prescribed. And if general anesthesia is offered/suggested, don't cheap out on it. I've had all my wisdoms out, as three events. I wish I had done it all at once, the time I did it with general was 1000 times less unpleasant than the other two times.
posted by bilabial at 12:09 PM on November 25, 2006

Not from around there, but do they have a dental school? It sounds like you might need an oral surgeon, and I don't know if they would tackle it, but it sounds like a less expensive place to start. (As opposed to going to a plain old dentist, paying for Xrays, and then having them send you someplace else.)
Most dentists will try to work out something if you need it done now. If the dental school won't do it, they might be able to refer you to someone friendly.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 12:14 PM on November 25, 2006

Response by poster: Both excellent comments so far, thank you two.

While I am not informed enough to say "no, it's definitely not an infection", when I said in burts I mostly meant that doing something agitates it and then it's in pain for a bit. I'm wondering if the filling there shifts or something, and that causes it.

Anyway, I agree about the no one quoting me a price on the internet. I just really don't even have a clue of what kind of money I'm looking at here; previously I didn't have to worry about anything other than a minor copay when I went, and I haven't been able to afford to really go since I haven't had insurance.

This has happened at an absurdly inconvenient time, since I had burned through most of my saving and just now managed to find another job (so still haven't been able to replenish savings or pay off a couple of people I had to borrow from, and health insurance with this company wont kick in for another two months still).
posted by Stunt at 12:23 PM on November 25, 2006

I can't help you with regards to the price, but my wisdom teeth required an oral surgeon to remove and they were mostly out.

I can tell you that it was around $300 per tooth if I remember correctly. But that was just my case, and it could be totally different for you. That doesn't include the prescriptions I was on (antibiotics & painkillers).

Do you have credit cards? This is one of those situations where it is worth using credit to take care of yourself, if you can. Otherwise talk to a dentist / oral surgeon and have them examine you and see what they think it will cost to take care of. It's possible that you can work out a payment plan with them if you are able to put something down up front and make regular payments to pay off your bill. Not all dentists & doctors will do this, but some will.
posted by tastybrains at 12:46 PM on November 25, 2006

A bit more info about CareCredit based on being with someone who used it for some serious dental bills... It's like a credit card. If your dentist takes it, you put your dental bill on to the Care Credit card and make payments, there is a minimum payment every month.

I'm not sure what their deal is now, and read the fine print, but at the time we were using it the deal was no interest for the first year so you'd just make regular payments, they'd send you bills. After the first year the interest made a BIG HOP to 25-29% (can't remember) and it's retroactive in some weird way. The additional thing to know is that if you make the minimum payments, you will not pay off the bill in 12 months so you have to make your own calculations about whether paying the interest is worth it, or whether making larger payments is a better deal for you.

While my idea of dental prices is only based on my own experience at the low cost clinic in Seattle, I got a root canal of a non-infected tooth and it ran me about $250-300 before I got any restorative/crown work (which was more). My guess is you'd be looking at a cost in the mid-to-high hundreds, not in the thousands, but listen to bilabial, your costs will vary dramatically and everyone's situation is different. You probably need an oral surgeon or an endodontist and if you're in serious discomfort (maybe not right now, but soonish) finding someone who is recommended, perhaps by your dentist, who can see you soonish and you can work out some sort of a payment plan with is sometyhing you shoudl do before you're in a dental agony situation. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 12:48 PM on November 25, 2006

Some anecdotal info for your cause. My ex had a wisdom tooth go bad about 4 years ago. It hadn't been filled before, and wasn't impacted, but suddenly started causing him a world of hurt (I'd never seen a 28 year old man cry like a little girl before). After rounding up some Vicoden from my neighbor, the nurse, I called my dentist who I love and trust. Over the phone, he was able to determine that my ex probably needed to go to an oral surgeon, and we were able to get an appointment set up for the next morning with someone my dentist recommended. The cost for extraction for one wisdom tooth with general anesthesia was $850. This is in NYC.
posted by kimdog at 1:29 PM on November 25, 2006

Put some dentemp in the tooth-found in the toothpaste aisle at the drugstore-- and get someone at your work to let you know who they see pronto.
posted by brujita at 4:45 PM on November 25, 2006

When I lived in San Diego, I went to Doctor Hurst, in Clairemont. You could start there.
posted by billtron at 6:48 PM on November 25, 2006

There are good dentists in TJ - worth asking around. They charge less and they'll take American insurance.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:43 AM on November 26, 2006

For whatever it's worth, you may be over-estimating how much more complicated the bad filling issue will make the procedure. A few months ago I had all my wisdom teeth out, and two of them were badly decayed at the time. The oral surgeon said that didn't make a difference, it was still a very simple procedure. Of course, depending on your roots, you may have a different experience. But I wanted to throw that out there in case it reassures you at all.

My dental insurance is decent but not great, and the whole thing cost me $98 for all four teeth, the full-on general anesthesia I opted for because I am a baby about pain, and the follow-up visit the next week.

If you can scrape up the cash for a couple of office visit co-pays, I'd recommend that you go ahead and visit your dentist, and then an oral surgeon if she/he recommends one. They should be able to work up a quote for how much they'll charge for your particular situation. If it's out of the range of what you can afford, dental schools or credit might be a good idea, but you might just be overestimating what it'll cost and getting yourself unnecessarily worried. Why not go ahead and find out the real numbers before you stress?
posted by Stacey at 5:03 AM on November 26, 2006

I've been using the dentist (Dr. Hema) at with success.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 4:14 PM on November 27, 2006

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