Is There Affordable Dentistry for the Unemployed?

My dad was laid off, after 30+ years with the same company. Can you believe that? It’s so annoying. Now he has a toothache he’s hiding, but I’ve noticed. He’s a proud man and won’t accept help from me. I know him enough to know that he’s trying to wait it out until he finds employment again. I’m worried whatever the problem is will grow and spread. Is there a way to get him affordable dentistry?

Abigail L. – Delaware


I love that you’re looking out for your father. I also like he’s a man who likes to stand on his own two feet. However, you’re right. He needs to get this treated. It can blow up into an infection and infections spread. Even in the 21st century, people die from tooth infections. He has a couple of options, though.

First, he could just go to his normal dentist. Even if he’s not what you’d normally consider an “affordable dentist“, if your father’s been a long time patient, he’ll almost certainly work with him on payments.

If your father’s dentist is inflexible and doesn’t do payment plans, it’s perfectly acceptable for him to see another dentist in emergency situations. This definitely qualifies as a dental emergency. Many emergency dentists also have payment plans. They do that because they realize people end up with tooth infections when they avoid the dentist because of cost. They’ll either have in-office payment plans or use Care Credit.

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Can I Self-Medicate Before Going to the Dentist’s Office?

I’m not a fan of the dentist. But, I’ve got a toothache and need to go. I have a valium prescription. Can I just take one of those before I go in? Also, I don’t have a dentist. Is there a secret passcode to get in quickly?

Stina L. – Georgia


We’ll start with the secret passcode. Generally, if you tell a dentist you have a dental emergency they’ll try hard to fit you in. Most dentists are compassionate and got into the field because they want to help people.

Now, if you get that appointment we need to help you with your anxiety. While you can take valium, it will affect what your dentist is able to do. Some medications he’ll need to give you could be contraindicative for valium. I have a solution for you, though.

When you google for emergency dentists, look for one who also does sedation dentistry. This is actually better than valium. Depending on the type of sedation used, it can give you a completely relaxed, pain-free experience.

If, for some reason, you decide to just take the valium instead be sure you let the dentist know you took some, along with any other medication in your system. Even tell him about over-the-counter medication. It’s important you do that. It could save your life.

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Think I’m Being Ripped Off By Pediatric Dentist

I’m so frustrated with my pediatric dentist. I’m about to take my daughter to a general dentist if they’ll take her, just to leave this clinic. First, they insisted that my daughter get dental sealants. I didn’t mind that because I see the benefit of getting sealants. What I did mind was them insisting I have her use nitrous oxide to get the procedure. In fact, they refused to do the procedure without it without giving an explanation. Then, after I forked out all that money out of pocket, several sealants fell out sometime between her getting them on and her next check-up six months later. Now they’re insisting I pay to have them done again. Can I just go to a different dentist? Will they make her use nitrous?

Deanna L. – Colorado


Yes, sealants are important for young kids. They have a hard time getting down into those crevices of their molars. Sealants help protect them from decay. I’m not sure about the insistence of nitrous. That sounds like an unnecessary expense. Placing sealants is fast and painless. The dentist just paints them on. I’m also not sure why they fell off so quickly, unless your daughter eats a lot of sticky or hard candy. Ideally, they should have offered to replace them.

To answer your other question, no your daughter doesn’t have to go to a pediatric dentist. General dentists are qualified to treat young children. The trick will be finding one who enjoys it. You want them to be pleasant and fun with your child. One way to know how they really feel about children is to ask when they first want to see children. If they say two or three years old, then you can be sure they enjoy children. If they say 8-10, I’d move on to another dentist.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kevin Peck.