How do I get cheap healthcare fast?
December 13, 2006 7:34 AM   Subscribe

My cousin appears to have an abscessed tooth. She's uninsured, broke, and in desperate need of a prescription for antibiotics so she can sleep and work. How can we do this as quickly and cheaply as possible?

We're going to find a way to deal with underlying issue as soon as possible, but I know that a dentist will make her run a course of antibiotics or two before extracting this tooth. Anyone know of a cheap doc in Austin, TX? What about things she can do to alleviate her discomfort in the meantime? Any help will be appreciated.
posted by polyhedron to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have a dental school in your area? They may be able to offer cheap/free care, including an antibiotic prescription. (Possibly at the hands of a dental student.)

She probably needs a root canal, and I doubt it can wait a week or two while antibiotics do their job. Most likely, the antibiotics will be given to her afterward.

Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.
posted by CMichaelCook at 7:37 AM on December 13, 2006

Check out a nearby dental school (UT surely has one?). They usually have clinics that provide cheap dental care under the supervision of a member of the faculty. I used one with an abscess once; worked fine.
posted by agent99 at 7:38 AM on December 13, 2006

Pulling a tooth is not expensive - less than $200 probably. So if the tooth is one that can be spared, just do that. (Antibiotics can be given afterwards, as noted.) Oral surgeons are better at pulling teeth than dentists are.

Root canals are expensive. If the tooth must be saved, you'll have to look into payment plans.
posted by jellicle at 7:44 AM on December 13, 2006

Can you get to Mexico?
posted by allelopath at 7:47 AM on December 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

UT's dental school is in Houston and a quick googling suggest that there aren't any other dental schools in Austin. Any other ideas?
posted by polyhedron at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2006

UT San Antonio has a dental school, and it's only a 90 minute drive from Austin.
posted by muddgirl at 7:53 AM on December 13, 2006

Yes, dental school, although this does not guarantee a cheap price. (I had four teeth pulled by an oral surgeon and it cost me $2,000; of course, this was because the roots of the teeth ran close to facial nerves, so I needed to have a pro do it, not a student).

Antibiotics were really cheap, about $25 for a huge bottle o' pills.

Has anybody ever gone overseas for dental care, i.e., Mexico?
posted by mixer at 8:03 AM on December 13, 2006

(If) It's an impacted wisdom tooth, it's got to be removed as it's already starting to mess up her teeth. Are you sure they'd extract this tooth without getting the infection under control? My brother went through this about a year ago (but he wasn't in the same financial situation) and he had to spend a week or so with a swollen jaw while he waited for the antibiotics to work.

I'm really hoping someone will suggest a way to see a doctor, any doctor (I don't care how shady or fly by night) and get a prescription for some antibiotics. It may not be her tooth but her lymph node under one side of her jaw is swollen and she's had a fever for a while.

UTSA is a good suggestion but I don't want to make the drive if it isn't actually her tooth causing this problem, y'know?
posted by polyhedron at 8:04 AM on December 13, 2006

When I had an infected wisdom tooth, the dentist prescribed antibiotics and told me to rinse about 4 times a day with half and half hydrogen peroxide and water.

As far as seeing a dentist, I use a dentist on Wells Branch Parkway who is reasonably priced (Dr. Webb). For an inexpensive doctor, I have used Austin Regional Clinic for a variety of reasons. There is one at Far West and Mopac. They will see you same day, and aren't too expensive. (512-419-0707)

I also have no insurance, or am "self pay" as they say!
posted by rintj at 8:18 AM on December 13, 2006

My dentist offers credit for expensive procedures via a 3rd party credit provider. If your cousin has a job, a dentist may be able to finance the charges. The application is a simple one-page document. Try calling around.
posted by jpep at 10:01 AM on December 13, 2006

You don't have to see a dentist to get antibiotics for an abcessed tooth.

I would go to the nearest free health care clinic.

The antibiotics should stop the pain within 24-48 hours. Then taking ibuprofen will help.

Ice on the fleshy v between the thumb and index finger is supposed to help - because of nerve pathways.
posted by cda at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2006

In my (sadly not inconsiderable) experience with root canals and the astoundingly, almost impossibly severe nerve pain attacks which accompany these infections:

A dentist won't want to go near this until the infection's been addressed. Antibiotics now, dentist in 7-10 days. And make damned sure the friend gets at least 7 days of *cillin and takes the whole course, because that fucker will resurface given half a chance.

Also I'll vote for the if-tooth-is-far-back-enough-just-get-it-pulled suggestion above.
posted by genghis at 6:20 AM on December 14, 2006

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