Published: May 07, 2010 6:26 PM EDT

DETROIT (AP) - A dispute over toothpaste in prison is going back to court. A former Michigan inmate who says he was denied toothpaste for nearly a year while behind bars can sue, citing his right against cruel and unusual punishment.

Jerry Flanory says he developed gum disease as a result and had a tooth removed in 2005. A federal appeals court reinstated his lawsuit Thursday against officials at the Newberry prison. The court says Flanory's problems amounted to "more than a mere inconvenience."

The Flint man says he got into a dispute with officials over education classes. As a result, he was disciplined and had to pay for his own toothpaste, which he couldn't afford. Prisons spokesman John Cordell said Friday he wasn't familiar with the case.