A Personal Story: Abscess Causing Headaches – Julie, Strafford


Julie is a single mom with three kids living in Strafford, Vermont. Her children all have dental coverage through Dr. Dynasaur, but Julie is not covered because she has VHAP, which does not include dental. Julie was put on a waiting list at a local clinic. She had been without dental care for seven years, desperately needed a cleaning, and she felt very fortunate when her primary care physician made a phone call to get her moved up the waiting list.

About a year ago Julie started experiencing headaches which took several months to diagnose. Her doctors thought the problem was in her jaw. They had her sleeping with a mouth guard, and taking different pain medications, but nothing worked. Finally she was able to see her dentist who took one x-ray and found she had an abscess in one of her teeth, which she then had pulled. “If I wasn’t able to go see the dentist, which I did not have money to pay for, it could have gotten really bad…I really lucked out.”

Julie thinks the accessibility provided by local traveling clinics is really important, especially for people who live in the country, many of whom commute for work. “I think dental is really important…People should have more accessible ways to get to dentists and to pay for them because they’re so incredibly expensive…” She points out that you’re supposed to have a physical every year and that most health insurance will cover that, but they won’t cover dental. “You have to pay out of pocket and it’s ridiculously expensive…and so many people don’t go…If you can’t eat right because your teeth hurt or your mouth hurts, how can you take care of yourself?”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

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