Archive for September 25th, 2011

A Personal Story: Delay Causes Cavities – Tessa, White River Junction

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Tessa, who lives in White River Junction, Vermont, hadn’t been to the dentist in five years because her previous dentist had closed their practice and she didn’t know where else to go. Tessa’s mom helped her find a new dentist about six months ago. Although Tessa had never had a single cavity up until her last visit, “I had eight cavities and two root canals, because we went five or six years without going to the dentist. I had a lot of work to be done. And I had just been pregnant.” Fortunately the work was all paid for by Medicaid. “It was a new thing for me and it sucked, especially the root canals.” Tessa does not have an appointment to go back since her dentist’s office got washed out by the flooding [or Tropical Storm Irene], although she just found out he has a second office up in Barre.

A Personal Story: Dentist Who’ll Take Kids? – Jennifer, White River Junction

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Jennifer is 20 years old with a three year old son. They live in White River Junction, Vermont. Jennifer had a bad experience at the dentist when she was seven or eight years old and hasn’t been back since. She wants to go back, because her teeth are crooked and she would like to get them fixed. Her wisdom teeth are coming in and pushing the rest of her teeth forward. “Now they’re overlapping and they never used to.” Jennifer also suspects she has a cavity. She has pain when biting into hot or cold foods. “I’m scared of going to the dentist because I don’t want a mean one.” Jennifer has no idea who she could call to get an appointment. Someone gave her some numbers once, “but at that point I was actually trying to get one for my son. My son needs to go to the dentist and they told me that they wouldn’t take kids.” Jennifer really wants to find someone for herself and her son: “I would love to have it all done because I’m very self conscious about my teeth. It’s very important to me.”

A Personal Story: Teeth Not Bothering Her Today – Jasmine, Wilder

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

The last time Jasmine, who lives in Wilder, Vermont, went to the dentist was seven or eight years ago. She had two or three cavities which she had filled. The reason she hasn’t been back is because her teeth are not currently bothering her. Jasmine has no dental insurance and says it would be difficult to pay for a visit to the dentist because her income is so low.

A Personal Story: No Time, No Money – Jamie, Hartford

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Jamie is 19 and hasn’t been to the dentist in about four years.  The last time she went to the dentist, she had a lot of cavities that she needed to get filled. Jamie has pain in her mouth and suspects she has more cavities, but does not currently have a dentist. She would go back to her previous dentist, but she doesn’t think they accept Vermont Medicaid. Jamie is extremely busy with her two year old son, and doesn’t have time to look for a new dentist.

A Personal Story: Safe If I’m Pregnant? – Elizabeth, White River Junction

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

The last time Elizabeth went to the dentist was probably two or three years ago. She doesn’t go now because she can’t make appointments that often and doesn’t have the money. Her last appointment was for an extraction, which she said didn’t hurt too much because they give you medication for it. “I don’t mind the dentist too much.”

Though she is currently living in White River Junction, Vermont, Elizabeth has moved around a lot and hasn’t yet found a dentist in the Upper Valley. She has a sharp pain in her mouth now, particularly when she eats sweet food. Elizabeth thinks she needs a couple more teeth pulled but doesn’t think she can have the procedure done while she is pregnant. “They stick a needle in your jaw with a certain kind of medication that numbs it, so I don’t know if it’s safe. And also they’ll probably end up doing surgery because of my wisdom teeth, I don’t have enough room in my mouth, so they’ll probably have to cut open my gums and take them out. I don’t know if that’s safe either.” Fortunately, Elizabeth is due in about a month, and thinks she will probably find a dentist for herself after her baby is born.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Dentists Scare Me – Dakota, Hartford

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Dakota has not seen the dentist in the past three years, since before her son was born. She does not like dentists. One dentist she saw when she was younger was mean and unpleasant. She went and got the fillings she needed and then never went back. Five years ago another dentist claimed to have put caps on her teeth, but didn’t and then charged her mom $3,000 for the work. “I don’t go to the dentist—they scare me. But now I’ve got all of my wisdom teeth coming in and I’m scared they’re going to mess up all the rest of my teeth so I’m considering seeing a dentist.”

Dakota has also had a hard time finding a dentist for her son. Vermont Medicaid connected Dakota with someone who they would support her son visiting, but it wasn’t a proper dentist; instead, it was an oral surgeon. “…all he does is pull teeth, he doesn’t even look at the teeth and all that like a normal dentist would. So my doctor’s like, you should probably get him another dentist. So I have to figure out where.”

A Personal Story: Stranded from Care – Alicia, South Royalton

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Alicia is a young mother and has Vermont Medicaid for health insurance. She has lost two different dentists because they went out of business without referring her to someone else: “I was just kind of left stranded.” She currently has no dentist, and it’s been four or five years since she has seen somebody. She has a broken tooth that needs either a root canal or extraction, “I can’t swish cold or hot water around in my mouth because it hurts so bad.” Alicia has tried to find another dentist, but always seems to get put on a waiting list: “I think I’ve been on, like, four in the upper valley and I still haven’t heard back . . . It’s irritating and it’s frustrating and it feels like you don’t matter, so why should I keep trying? . . . I just don’t know who to go to anymore.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Long, Hard Wait – Jody, Tunbridge

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Jody is 25 and living in Tunbridge, Vermont. She has not been to the dentist since high school. The last time she was at the dentist was for a routine cleaning, but she does have a receding gumline that she knows she might need to deal with in the future.”I would really like to go, and I know I need to go, and I think my teeth are really important, but I haven’t made it a priority to go, partly because of money.” Jody works in early childhood education and is paid hourly with no benefits. Most of her money goes toward paying off her student loans, buying food, and paying rent. Her student loan payment alone is $289 a month, “That really takes a big chunk out of anything you can save.” If she were to make an appointment for a cleaning and check up, it would be something she would need to budget for in advance. “I think the longer I wait, the harder it gets because I probably will have more work. I was hoping to be eligible for some kind of dental care, but I’m not.”

A Personal Story: In Debt for Dental – Emme, Strafford

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Emme is 58 with two grown children. She lives in Strafford, Vermont. She has dental work that she needs done, but can’t afford it. She has repeatedly gone into debt to try to pay her dental bills. Here is her story:

Sometimes we had Medicaid, sometimes not, but I have only once used a Medicaid dentist, as I trust my own so much, and he does not take Medicaid. Most of the time we just put it on the credit card, as we don’t have enough money to pay cash. We have lots of credit card debt. My dentist knows our situation, so whenever he can, he gives us a break . . . like for an emergency visit for my husband, but we still had to pay the “extractor” with a credit card. The boys were always covered by Medicaid, until they got older. Now they don’t go as often as they should. They will go for years (without seeing a dentist.) I have work that needs to be done, but cannot do it and it is just too much to put on the card… deep scaling and planing, (my husband too) and a crown. I will have to wait until my stepfather dies and then use my inheritance. In the past, like 18 years ago, I didn’t go unless it was an emergency. I had several teeth pulled out because it was cheaper than a root canal. The only time I had a big job done was after my father died and I inherited some money. I needed a crown, and so I could pay for it then.