Archive for May, 2011

A Personal Story: Teeth in A Jar – Shannon, Claremont

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Shannon lives in Claremont, New Hampshire. She got her dentures in the early 1980′s; back then, they cost her around $500. In the years since then, Shannon has gradually developed a bone spur in her mouth that made it first uncomfortable and then downright painful to wear her dentures. The cost of getting a new set of dentures or even having the ones she has adjusted, however, is simply beyond her means – “things have changed since the 1980′s,” she told us. For a long time Shannon would try wearing her dentures for a week at a time, or even for a whole month at a time. But inevitably, they would start to hurt so much that she’d have to give up and stop using them, just to give her mouth a break. Now they live permanently in a jar in her bathroom, and Shannon does without. “It’s just so much easier to eat without them,” she says. “They’ve been in that jar a long, long time.” If she could, Shannon would love to have her teeth back. But unless she can find a way to get help with the high cost of an adjustment, they’ll stay where they are – in a jar in her bathroom, doing no one any good.

A Personal Story: Nancy Dumont, Alice Peck Day Hospital

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

“It’s easy to raise money to take care of the children, but it’s very difficult to find money to take care of adults.“
- Nancy DuMont

Nancy DuMont is the Manager of the Department of Community Health at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, located in Lebanon, New Hampshire. In a recent interview with COHI intern Arthur Kim, she shared a story about a patient who came to her in severe pain due to advanced periodontal disease.  Ms. DuMont was able to find a dentist to see the patient for an emergency visit, but the diagnosis was very discouraging; the patient needed all her teeth extracted. This is an expensive procedure, and one which the patient could not afford.

Ms. DuMont learned that her patient could receive treatment through a dental assistance program in New Hampshire which recruits volunteer dental professionals to treat elderly, disabled, or otherwise at-risk individuals who lack the resources to pay for needed care. But the waiting list to get help was a year long. This meant that Ms. DuMont’s patient would have to spend an entire year on intense antibiotics and pain medications while she waited for a chance to be treated. As of April 2011, Ms. Dumont’s patient is still waiting to be treated – and still on heavy medications.

Ms. Dumont’s professional experiences have taught her that this story is typical. There are more resources, she says, for children who need dental help; she has found, for example, that dentists are more willing to accept Medicaid for child patients.  But for adults who cannot afford care, the options are very limited. And the phone calls keep coming in – practically every day, and she finds herself speaking with another individual in need of help.