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  #1  
Old 08-11-2003, 12:25 PM
Moe Moe is online now
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Slowing down tooth decay

I got a problem. Wait... no that's not the word, ...umm, "cavity". I first noticed the pain about 3 weeks ago I think, and since then the pain has kinda come and gone, though I still feel it on occasion when eating.

Obviously I want to get this taken care of before it becomes more serious and more costly.

However, there's a problem, and by "problem" I mean "lack of dental insurance and extremely poor financial situation". I just called a local dentist and they gave me an estimate on the phone of about $100 for an initial visit with x-rays, and then a possible $150 for the filling (rear tooth).

I may continue to shop around, but undoubtedly the cheapest solution I will find will be at the local university hospital where the work will be done by ::gulp:: students. But the earliest I'll be able to get the work done there would be Sept. when the students are around.

So the GQ's are:
- Am I OK to wait another month? (definitely, definitely not, maybe)
- What measures can I take to slow down the decaying process? Do cavities mean there is an infection present? And if so are there OTC topical antibiotics I could use? Special toothpastes? Wiccan spells?
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  #2  
Old 08-11-2003, 12:34 PM
DoubleJ DoubleJ is offline
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(1) Dear God no, don't wait any longer. The longer you wait the more likely it is that the cavity will work its way into the innermost part of the tooth, meaning you'll need a root canal instead of just a filling. They hurt like hell and they run closer to $1000 than $100. Whatever way you have of getting the money (borrow from family, credit cards, whatever) do it sooner than later.

(2) Failing to listen to (1), the only thing I can think of is to brush more frequently (in the morning and every time you finish eating) to wash away anything for the bacteria to live on. The antiseptics in Listerine and other mouthwashes may help, too. And yes, cavities are caused by bacteria in your mouth that live off the sugars in food you eat and produce acids that eat away at the teeth.
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  #3  
Old 08-11-2003, 01:29 PM
sailor sailor is offline
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If it does not hurt and you keep it disinfected, waiting 3 - 4 weeks is no big deal. It's not like the cavity will grow a lot in that time. The only problem is that the pain may reappear without warning.
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  #4  
Old 08-11-2003, 03:49 PM
CrankyAsAnOldMan CrankyAsAnOldMan is offline
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Also, the students are supervised, so don't freak too badly.
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  #5  
Old 08-11-2003, 05:24 PM
Zazie Zazie is offline
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my own experience, my cavities become bad very quick... I wouldn't wait too long, but a couple of weeks should be ok. It will hurt the wallet but trust me, do it!
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  #6  
Old 08-11-2003, 06:14 PM
herman_and_bill herman_and_bill is offline
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Back tooth? just get it pulled, maybe $75.00 or so, ask the dentist if you can make payments.
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  #7  
Old 08-12-2003, 01:02 PM
Moe Moe is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by DoubleJ
And yes, cavities are caused by bacteria in your mouth that live off the sugars in food you eat and produce acids that eat away at the teeth.
Aren't these sugars water soluable? And thus, am I helping by simply drinking a lot of water throughout the day?

Anyway, it turns out that the dentists I've called can't do it much sooner, so thriftiness aside, I'll likely be waiting for the, hopefully very closely supervised students.

I just hope I can get the very earliest possibly appointment in Sept., right as the semester starts, when the students will have that initial spark of inspiration as they face the new school year, eager to impress their superiors; before their beliefs and ideals have been tarnished by the system.

...er, before they've had any chance to practice? [Daffy Duck] mother [/DD]

Disclaimer: this melodrama is really meant in jest. I'd probably be a heck of a lot more serious if we were talking about something more complex like a root canal. But I have the utmost confidence in our dentists of tomorrow. Thank youl.
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  #8  
Old 08-12-2003, 02:16 PM
wet marble wet marble is offline
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Most doctors / dentists understand that health comes first and not everyone has insurance. My experience has been that if you tell them that you don't have insurance, they will usually give you a discount. I'm also positive that any reputable dentist will allow you to pay over time in installments.

That being said, run, don't walk, to the dentist and get your tooth looked at. It could be a variety of problems ranging from cavity to wisdom teeth coming and creating extra pressure on your other teeth to advanced gingivitis.

As already mentioned, cavities are caused by bacteria which feed off of sugars in your mouth from the foods you eat. If it is indeed a cavity, then reducing the amount of sugar you eat will help, as will brushing after every meal and chewing sugarless gum. Gum is excellent as a deterrant because it stimulates saliva. Saliva is the mouth's natural defense against bacteria. It serves the dual purpose of trapping bacterial particles as well as killing them off. Generally after eating the mouth's production of saliva decreases dramatically. Chewing gum stimulates the saliva producing glands in your mouth, helping you to maintain enough saliva to help fight off bacteria.

We all fear the dentist because let's face it, the idea of sharp metal things in our mouths is unpleasant. But like most things, the longer you allow the problems to develop, the more pain they will cause you down the road, so bite the bullet and get it fixed immediately.
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  #9  
Old 08-12-2003, 02:29 PM
DoubleJ DoubleJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Moe
Aren't these sugars water soluable? And thus, am I helping by simply drinking a lot of water throughout the day?
(A little less sure I know what I'm talking about here. Correct me if needed, please.)

Yes, but I doubt it helps much. The little bastards also live in/on the plaque that forms on the teeth, so just drinking lots of water probably won't do a whole lot. Chewing sugarless gum, like wet marble mentioned, probably does more because the plaque will also get picked up by the gum and be removed entirely when you spit the stuff out.

All that said, most dentists will work with you to help find a way to pay. During a recent bout of "self-employment" I waited too long and wound up in the Root Canal Zone. They let me pay in stages -- it's not like a dentist's office has never seen someone without insurance before, and they should have a system in place for just such an occasion.
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  #10  
Old 08-12-2003, 02:48 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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There are special toothpastes that can help create a re-mineralizing environment in your mouth, however they are available only by prescription. The brand name is Prevident (I get the generic, but I have no idea what it costs because I have prescription coverage and just about all generics are $10).

Remineralizing means the cavity gets smaller! (Yes it can happen). Listerine mouthwash can maybe help a little... Avoid sugary drinks (includes many fruit juices) and any kind of "sticky" treat that lingers in the crevices of your teeth (caramel, those gummy fruit snacks, etc.) Brush at least twice a day for at least 2 minutes at a time (use a timer, 2 minutes is probably 4x the time most people spend brushing their teeth). Don't eat anything between brushing and going to bed. Floss.

Don't be surprised if x-rays show more cavities that you can't feel yet.
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  #11  
Old 08-12-2003, 02:54 PM
FyreFiend FyreFiend is offline
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About Dental Schools (UPenn at least):
Yes, they are cheap. Last cavity I got filled (2-3 months ago) was $35. It was small so it was on the low side of the scale but the top is $65. That's after you're a patent and that just takes setting up a consult appointment for $40.
The students are the ones to work on you, true, but they don't let them near you until they prove that they know what they're doing. Plus, they have real dentists watching over everything.
Also, they're open all year round.

All and all I've been very happy with my exp. My last student was the best dentist I've ever had.
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  #12  
Old 08-12-2003, 04:32 PM
Moe Moe is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hello Again
There are special toothpastes that can help create a re-mineralizing environment in your mouth, however they are available only by prescription.
Now why the heck would they not make this available OTC? Could it possibly be more dangerous than other OTC meds? Seems like a toothpaste that can actually fill in cavities through remineralization (even if only effective for smaller cavities or milder cases) would save people a lot of money and grief.

Does it have to be prescribed by a dentist or can I get a general practitioner to prescribe it? Because it sounds like a damn good thing!

Fyre, I'm going to call them again because I was kind of surprised when the woman told me that I'd have to wait for Sept. for when the students come back. I think I've always kinda assumed that at that level (Med school, dental school, PHD programs, you know the upper levels of post grad education) they no longer have seasonal semesters but rather programs that run all year round.
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  #13  
Old 08-13-2003, 09:20 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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I *think* it has to be prescribed by a dentist but I'm really not sure (I've never asked my GP). The reason it is not sold over the counter is that flouride is *poisonous* especially to children. Prevident is 1.1% flouride as opposed to 0.1% in regular OTC toothpaste. You are only supposed to use a little (I actually mix it with a dab of "regular" to get enough foam). I can see well-meaning parents buying it, slathering it on a little-un's toothbrush, and inadvertendly poisoning them. Even adults are not not not supposed to swallow it.

All About Prevident:
http://www.medicalwellnesscenter.com...ndanswers.html
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  #14  
Old 08-13-2003, 11:12 AM
Zazie Zazie is offline
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True, I got a special paste to apply to my teeth with extra fluoride. Extra being 1.1% I believe. It is only on prescription because you can overdose on fluoride, I guess!
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  #15  
Old 08-13-2003, 03:08 PM
Moe Moe is online now
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OK, after reading through that site I can understand this stuff ain't for the foolish OTC shopper.

One thing I couldn't find was how much it cost. I may have missed it, but I saw that on that site I can go through an online consultation process for $50 (already perhaps too pricey for me) and possibly receive a prescription, but how much does the actual product cost? (I'm quite sure it'll be too much for me and perhaps not even worth it for my immediate problems which'll undoubtedly require a dentist soon, but I'm curious for the future).

Anyway, thanks for the advice (brushing much more frequently, listerine) which I have been taking to heart and practice. (haven't quite cut down on sugary snacks though . My sweet tooth may have a hole in it, but there's still enough tooth left to render me powerless against that particular addiction).
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  #16  
Old 08-13-2003, 03:36 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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Googling quickly I found some sites that charge about $10/tube for the brand-name stuff. (I'm trying but failing to remember the name of my generic brand). It's pricey for toothpaste but since you just use a little I find it lasts as long as a mid-sized tube of "normal" toothpaste. I don't think I use over 2 tubes/year.

Good luck with your cavity... as you might have guessed I am something of an expert: at 28 I have at least 1 filling in every tooth in my head, plus 2 root canals. This year for the first time in memory I had NO cavities for 2 consecutive checkups (a whole year!) at which news my dentist's whole staff burst out in spontaneous applause! My whole family is very prone to cavities -- apparently we are low in some enzyme or another.
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  #17  
Old 08-13-2003, 04:58 PM
saramamalana saramamalana is offline
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Moe, my dearest...you forget that the dental school at our alma mater is a pretty darn good school, so I think you'll be in capable hands.

Could you ask any of your housemates for a small loan perhaps? Maybe trade back that fan for a donation to your dental health?

Hello Again , I can beat you. I'm 23 and I've had 4 root canals and I probably have a filling in each tooth. I don't know why but for some reason, when I was little, no one ingrained in me the concept of good dental hygiene and so as an adult I've got weak, lousy teeth. Blech.
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  #18  
Old 08-13-2003, 10:22 PM
Cat Fight Cat Fight is offline
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Another person cursed with a mouth full of rotten teeth, here. If you happen to make it up to Canada any time soon, I know they have Prevident there, no prescription needed (those zany, liberal Canadians).
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  #19  
Old 08-13-2003, 11:52 PM
Moe Moe is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by saramamlana
Moe, my dearest...you forget that the dental school at our alma mater is a pretty darn good school, so I think you'll be in capable hands.

Could you ask any of your housemates for a small loan perhaps? Maybe trade back that fan for a donation to your dental health?

Hello Again , I can beat you. I'm 23 and I've had 4 root canals and I probably have a filling in each tooth. I don't know why but for some reason, when I was little, no one ingrained in me the concept of good dental hygiene and so as an adult I've got weak, lousy teeth. Blech.
Hey sara, glad you showed up. Yes I was of course jesting a bit with my comments on our local university students. Stony Brook is indeed a major Long Island hospital.

I'm sure my housemates and/or other friends would lend me the money if necessary but I'm not sure it actually is (i.e. necessary). I'm sure whomever I call at this point would require at least a few weeks before they could treat me, especially since I'm not an established patient and would likely require an initial consultation visit for x-rays and stuff. If it was a bit more dire I'm sure I could talk to various dentists and get them to work with me quicker and for cheaper, but I'm confident I can hold out for another 3 weeks. (I actually have my initial appointment at the school a week from today, the 20th, right before I have to be in small claims court to sue an old landlord (that's going to be a fun day ) but apparently they won't be able to fill it till sept. Frankly I'm not quite sure who's going to be taking the x-rays and conducting the initial visit if not a qualified dentist, but that's what the woman said on the phone).

Cat Fight, damn I wish I started this thread 2 weeks ago, right before I was actually way up in Limestone, Maine for the weekend, just by the Canadian border. Don't suppose you'd like to send me some?

And I too am someone who grew up without ever having the importance of good oral hygiene instilled in me. Heck when I was a kid getting a cavity was exciting; it was a chance to chill with some "space gas" as Dr. Lang called it. I'm still debating whether I'm gonna spring for nitrous on this one.
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  #20  
Old 08-14-2003, 08:22 AM
Fop Fop is offline
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Take some string, tie one end on the tooth and the other to a door know. You know what to do

I do hope you get it fixed, though.
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  #21  
Old 08-14-2003, 09:42 AM
AV8R AV8R is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Moe
Heck when I was a kid getting a cavity was exciting; it was a chance to chill with some "space gas" as Dr. Lang called it. I'm still debating whether I'm gonna spring for nitrous on this one.
How does this work? If you need a drill & fill, and they use nitrous oxide, is an injection of novacaine unnecessary? (Obviously, I've never had any dental work done).
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  #22  
Old 08-14-2003, 11:05 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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Sometimes yes, sometimes no. When I was a kid I hated needles and would get fillings on just nitrous. However it doesn't really kill the pain, just tends to make you relax and "go with the flow." Lately the only time I've used nitrous was when I was *very* anxious going into a root canal. Modern needles are much finer, and the modern anasthetic solution (I think it's actually somethingelse-caine) doesn't sting as much, so I've gotten pretty good about the shots. I am very sensistive to pain, and have needed as many as three shots for a back molar.

I had good dental habits instilled in me, it's just that I am very phobic of the dentist (try to imagine how you'd feel if every time you went, you needed a filling). I once went more than 5 years between check ups, which is not a Good Idea for someone with my history. The cleaning alone took 2 visits... they took "before" and "after" pictures!
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  #23  
Old 08-14-2003, 01:24 PM
Moe Moe is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hello Again
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. When I was a kid I hated needles and would get fillings on just nitrous. However it doesn't really kill the pain, just tends to make you relax and "go with the flow."
Actually, I'm pretty sure that nitrous is indeed an anaesthetic, in addition to its psychoactive relaxing properties. I know that I've certainly felt a certain degree of numbing from it (before being given the shot. In the past I've usually gotten both).

No doubt that some dentists use it primarily for the relaxing effects. When I had my wisdom teeth removed (a somewhat major operation since I had an extra tooth growing sorta sideways under the gums; looked pretty cool in the x-ray) I was put out for the actually operation but given nitrous to ease my way to total sedation. It was really unnecessary, but I quite enjoyed it.
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  #24  
Old 08-14-2003, 02:24 PM
saramamalana saramamalana is offline
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Quote:
but given nitrous to ease my way to total sedation
At first I thought that said "total seduction," and I wondered what the hell kind of dentist you were going to!

I said in another thread how my dentist puts numbing topical solution on the spot where he's going to inject the novocaine, AND I get nitrous. I am a baby and make no bones about it, and he and his assistant don't mind at all. I think I'm like an extra kid to my dentist, lol.

After all these years, I still don't floss. I own floss, but I can't make myself use it.
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  #25  
Old 08-14-2003, 04:23 PM
whiterabbit whiterabbit is offline
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Nitrous makes me not care, but I still can feel what's going on. The beauty of the nitrous is that I don't care about the anesthetic, which is the part of the process that scares me the most. Once I'm numb, I'm not great, but I'm okay. It's the needles that scare me. I'm also not fond of the pointy things they use during a cleaning when they're looking for cavities.

I'd get it looked at somehow ASAP if I were you, though. Pain is a marvelous motivator.
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