I am writing to see if you can point me in the right direction. I am new to the Detroit area, with no job and no insurance, and I have a serious infection in my mouth. I am missing several teeth in the back on the right hand side of my mouth. The one remaining molar seems to be infected. The gum right underneath it has a huge swelling, and is very painful and tender to the touch.
I am a college student, and don’t have any family that could help out with this. Are there resources or agencies that can help with emergency dental care?
Thanks for you help,
Lily in Detroit
You are in a challenging position. Before offering some suggestions as to how to proceed, first read through what NOT to do.
Do NOT take an antibiotic for the infection without also having the tooth treated. You are correct that the source of the infection is inside the tooth. Oral or injected antibiotics travel the bloodstream to reach areas of infection, and therefore cannot reach the source of this infection. If you take an antibiotic without also treating the source, you are simply leaving behind drug resistant bacteria and not addressing the source of the infection at all.
Please take this infection very seriously. Infections in the jaw and teeth can migrate to the brain and cause infections there, or to your throat, making eating and even breathing very difficult. Even though you don’t have insurance, you must find a way to get this treated. Begin by contacting local social service agencies, and asking them to give you the names and contact information of local dentists that work with patients in financial need. You don’t say where you are going to school, but a potential source of emergency dental care might be the local dental school. The best solution would be a root canal treatment, but if you can’t afford that, at least have the tooth extracted.
When your fortunes improve, as they will when you complete college, you should strongly consider dental implants to replace some if not all of your missing teeth. Over time, the bone of the jaw at the site of missing teeth begins to be reabsorbed into the body. This can lead to a situation called “facial collapse“, which can make it impossible to wear any kind of dentures.
This blog produced courtesy of the office of Grosse Pointe Woods cosmetic dentist Dr. Hadgis.