I am hoping that you can give me some advice. I put off getting a broken molar treated several years ago and now I think I’m going to pay for it. When I finally had it looked at, half of it was already missing. I knew I should probably do something about it but it never hurt or anything. So, I kept putting it off. Then, after awhile longer, the rest of the tooth fell out. There is still the root and some of the tooth left under the gum line and now I’m starting to deal with some pretty serious pain. It starts down in the area of the broken tooth and then moves into my jaw. It isn’t constant and kind of comes and goes. But, when it hurts it is starting to interfere with my daily life. Do you know what can be done to get rid of the pain? Is it an issue to leave it alone at this point? I assume it probably needs to be removed or something, but I wanted to check with you to see how serious you think the situation is and if there is risk for infection?
-Gerald in Washington
I’m so sorry to hear you are in tough spot and are starting to deal with some severe tooth pain. The bad news is that it sounds like your molar is infected, which is what is causing you the pain. You need to have the tooth extracted before you are dealing with a very serious situation. If infections are left untreated, they can spread very quickly. An infected tooth where the infection moves to the jaw is bad news because the area is so close to your brain. You don’t want this to become a life threatening situation, so please don’t wait around any longer.
You need to get in to see a dentist as soon as possible. And while you are there, you should have a complete exam done on your other teeth too. The reason this molar broke so long ago is likely due to an untreated cavity. This is sadly a perfect example of what happens when you neglect to keep up with regular, routine dental exams. A small cavity many years ago would have been very inexpensive to treat. When issues like this are left untreated, they can turn into a much more invasive dental emergency, which means it will likely be exponentially more expensive.
What could have been addressed with a small filling, turns into a dental crown. Then, if it becomes infected, a root canal treatment and a crown is required. If it is still left untreated, you will need to have the tooth extracted. Then, if the missing tooth isn’t replaced the surrounding teeth will move in to crowd the space. This can throw off your bite, which can lead to complications with your bite and TMJ problems. So, in order to fill the space you will need a major restoration like a dental bridge or a dental implant. The best treatment for a missing tooth is a dental implant because it is a permanent solution and it looks, feels and functions just like your natural tooth. The issue is that dental implants are nearly 40 times more expensive than a simple filling would have been.
So, hopefully others are able to learn from your situation. From now on, you need to keep up with regular dental check ups. And for your sake, hopefully this is the only issue you need to have addressed so urgently. Thank you for sharing your story.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Rick Lane, DDS.