Should one try to save a tooth at ANY cost?

Does Clark Howard believe that one should try to save a tooth at any cost? I ask because I’m a Medicaid recipient, and a certain dentist at a certain sliding-scale clinic that accepts Medicaid was recently adamant that a certain tooth in my mouth couldn’t be saved. He insisted that said tooth needed to be extracted. However, some non-Medicaid-accepting dentists I have seen this year have believed that the tooth in question could be saved. In fact, one of the non-Medicaid-accepting dentists just installed a permanent crown on said tooth yesterday. Sadly, the non-Medicaid-accepting dentist in question is expensive, and he is no longer part of the Delta Dental network. He currently doesn’t accept any dental savings plans. This is quite unfortunate since it’s my understanding that he and the practice he’s part of have an excellent reputation. Should I go to a slightly less competent provider who does accept a dental savings plan? Should I even bother going back to the sliding-scale dental clinic that accepts Medicaid? Keep in mind that the dentist who felt my tooth needed to be extracted is just one of many dentists associated with said clinic. I am unemployed, permanently disabled, and receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. I currently live with my elderly parents.

This is really a question for Henrius, but you need a medical opinion. Is the tooth dead? Difficult or expensive to save? How important is that specific tooth to your life?

Curious why you are considered permanently disabled? You can use a computer. You write very well. Lots of jobs out there that don’t require physical ability. Social Security disability payments keep you in poverty as the average payment is about $1,000 per month.

There can be a lot of reasons why someone who can use a computer for a 1 paragraph post would be considered disabled, anything from severe back and neck injuries, mental health issues, mobility issues getting to and from work, excruciating pain (like back pain or Fibromyalgia) where one cannot sit, stand, lie for more than a small time, inability to physically sit at a computer for hours on end, etc. I have a relative who is mildly retarded and bi-polar who gets SSI because of the concern for his behavior at a job, he only receives a little over $900. SSDI (which is what above person said they have) is based on paying in payments for a minimum of 40 quarters or 10 years and is based on what they PAID IN TO THE SYSTEM. Depending on how long they worked and how much they made or paid into the system, their check could be more up to nearly $4,000. a month on SSDI I believe. People never know what others are going through, most people are not on disability because they want to be there.

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Just from my experience, I’ve been told by dentists and oral surgeona alike that it’s better to have your original tooth than an implant. I went through quite a bit to save a tooth whose root canal had failed after 30 years. Eventually, though, I had to have it pulled and replaced with an implant. In my stubbornness to save it, the oral surgeon eventually told me I wasn’t going to do die with that tooth in my mouth and it needed to go. So, I tried to save it and failed. Would I go through that again? Probably, but my wife went through something similar and would not do it again. This time, she did the easy stuff to save the tooth but once it go too complicated she just had it pulled and had the implant put in.

So, just based on what we’ve experienced, do what’s reasonable but no heroic efforts. You’ll probably just lose it anyway. Your mileage may vary. Good luck.

Well, ole1845, I have autism. I’ve had it since I was little.

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I have no idea about the OP, but my cousin had severe kidney disease that required dialysis multiple days per week, and took hours each time. There was no way she could hold down any normal job due to the dialysis. She was smart, funny, and very capable. But suffered from this genetic disease for about 15 years before dying unexpectedly last year at 57 years old. Sometimes disability is not obvious.

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I work in a public health dental clinic. The front teeth ( smile area ) are normally half the price of the molars for root canal treatment. In a nursing home self-care is not so good, often time they tend to let it go and remove it when swollen or tooth pain happens. Molars tooth can cost up to $3000+ (50% with good dental insurance) to save depending on your finances. Get 2nd opinion, some teeth are far gone, and somebody wants to do it for $$ and eventually still needs to be removed shortly after. Always implant if you have good supporting bones.

I know a woman with severe MS who is in a wheelchair and can’t even use her hands yet is a moderator for a computer website. She uses voice typing to reply. She is certainly disabled.

My great DDS of over 20 years stopped taking Delta because he couldn’t even break even in our expensive area. He’s not the first one around here to do so. Delta will still reimburse at 50% for non Delta dentists. I tried to hedge my bet by retaining him as my DDS but going elsewhere for cleanings. However, the cleanings were sub standard, imho, and it was clear that the knowledge I had from the ladies cleaning my teeth at my regular practice was much more than the attendant at the new office had. In my experience, poor dental health, in animals or people, results in other medical issues, possibly even affecting the heart. I decided to bite the bullet, take my 50% reimbursement, and make up for it by saving in non health-related areas.

By the way, the importance of saving a tooth depends a lot on which tooth it is.

Please think about how DDS. being reimbursed for his/her work.
A private office is paid by actual work rendered. A half-dead tooth can go through root canal treatment with crown lengthening followed by a crown that is a good source of production for them. After all the treatment the tooth still going dead, and there is no refund system anywhere. After $4 - $5,000 that you put in 1 tooth.
Community Health Systems are reimbursed for visits rendered, no point in convincing patients to sign up for a $10,000 + treatment plans.

I’ve never heard of spending that much money on one tooth…not even close to that much. I spent about $1500 total on MULTIPLE teeth a few years ago.

It can add up fast. I had a tooth where a root canal from 30 years earlier had failed and got infected. In an effort to save the tooth, I had the root canal redone. Didn’t help. I then had an apicoectomy where they go through your gum to the bottom of the roots (not a fun procedure). That worked for a year or two, just long enough to convince me that all was good. With the previous work, the crown was a mess and I had it redone. Then 6 months later the tooth got infected again and it had to be pulled. Got an implant and a new crown.

Didn’t add it all up, but it was several thousands of $. Next time I’ll just have it pulled.

I had an unusual dental experience. I had a baby tooth that had no adult tooth to come in. So even as an adult, I still had that baby tooth. Because the roots were shallow, I tried to be careful with it. At one point (aound age 40!) it needed work and my dentist said to save it, and put a crown over it. The crown lasted about almost 20 years!! Then, a tooth cracked that was 2 teeth away from the crown, which meant the in-between tooth would shift and the baby tooth/crown would eventually come out. So it was implant time. But my dentist and endodontist did something creative – they removed the cracked tooth, the in-between tooth, and the baby tooth and put an implant in – they spaced the implant screws as 2 screws to cover the space of 3 teeth then made an implant that had 3 teeth! So I ony had to pay for 2 implants!! It’s been great ever since, and I am grateful for their “out-of-the-box” thinking. But – my situation was not typical at all.