A Personal Story: Trapped, No Options – Nancy and Kate, Thetford

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Nancy and her family live in Thetford, Vermont. Nancy, her husband, and their three children all have dental insurance through her husband’s job. Nancy’s middle daughter, Kate, has been going to the dentist since she was two, having regular cleanings every six months. When Kate was three, their family dentist told them that she had cavities that would need to get filled in a year or so, before they started getting painful. Because Kate is so young, she needed to see a pediatric dentist. Nancy started looking and was surprised to find her options were very limited, with only one local pediatric dentist and just a few within driving distance.

Once she had an appointment, even with dental insurance, Nancy had to pay $110 before the pediatric dentist would even look at Kate. The initial exam revealed that Kate had six cavities which would need to be filled in three separate visits. Because of her age, Kate would need nitrous oxide for the procedure, which was not covered by insurance. Completing those six fillings would cost a total of $565. Although it would delay the procedures, Nancy would need to schedule each visit three months apart because, “we don’t have that kind of cash flow.”

At Kate’s first scheduled visit to get two of her cavities filled, Nancy was not comfortable with how the pediatric dentist interacted with her four year old. Ultimately, Kate pitched a fit, and the dentist couldn’t get the procedure done. He charged $67 for ten minutes. He was now recommending Kate have her cavities filled by him under general anesthesia. Nancy is not at all comfortable with this dentist, does not want her daughter under general anesthesia, but doesn’t feel like she has a choice: “I feel trapped. I don’t feel like I have any other option. I just don’t know where to turn.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

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