Archive for October, 2011

A Personal Story: Good Teeth? – John, Thetford

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

John is 35, lives in Vermont, and has worked at different times in logging, construction, and farming all his life. He hasn’t been to the dentist in 10 years. He doesn’t have any concerns about his teeth – no pain, no discomfort. Going to the dentist just has not been a priority for him. Now, he finally has dental insurance. But none of the local dentists accepts it. At this point he figures he’ll keep on the way he has until something goes wrong. Maybe he just has “good teeth”. He’s hoping!

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Why Is It So Hard? – Gloria, Woodstock

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Last year, Gloria took the big step of signing up for dental insurance for herself and her family. With a husband and two children, she had a lot of mouths to look after, and she figured that dental insurance would be the best and most prudent way to make sure the family’s oral health was covered. The problem is, in the year since she signed up for dental insurance she hasn’t  been able to find a single local Vermont dentist who accepts her insurance program. “We got it because we needed it,” she told me, “but now we can’t use it. Why does it have to be so hard and so confusing to take care of my family?”

A Personal Story: Really Hard to Schedule – Laura, Vershire

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Laura and her husband do not have dental insurance for themselves, but their three kids are covered by Dr. Dynasaur because they live in Vermont. Laura is committed to regular dental care for her family, and she pays for her check ups out of a health savings account that her husband contributes to regularly. Laura’s daughter has braces, which costs the family $290 a month, and with those payments due, she has less money to spend on other preventative care.

Laura tries to keep a regular check up and cleaning schedule for her family, but she says it’s really hard to schedule as far in advance as her dentist requires. For example, six months ago when she made their upcoming appointments she didn’t know her work schedule; now she’s faced with canceling the appointments or missing work. And now that the appointments are imminent, rescheduling will mean a substantial delay: “If I have to change it, I’ll never get in there. And that typically happens. So it doesn’t end up being like every six months, it becomes like, every eight months. It keeps slipping.”

Laura feels fortunate they have the means to pay for the care they need: “Luckily we’re generally healthy and our health savings account doesn’t end up being chewed up too quickly.”

A Personal Story: On Back Burner – Katie, South Royalton

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Katie moved to Vermont a little over two years ago from Chicago. She is a teacher in her twenties and does not have dental insurance. The last time she went to the dentist was Spring of 2009. She hasn’t found a dentist in the Upper Valley because she generally has really healthy teeth–she doesn’t even have any cavities. “I feel really guilty about it. I feel like I should go to a dentist and get everything checked out. But it’s just one of those things that’s on a back burner…There’s too much other stuff to do.”

A Personal Story: All the Rest is Covered – Monica, Woodstock

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

I am a 57-year-old woman living in Vermont who had no dental work done for several years because I made sure my family was taken care of before myself. And when my husband passed away, I absolutely could not afford any dental care. It is very detrimental to my health. I have had severe infections and always been in the situation where I finally went to the dentist because there was nothing else that could be done. I was given antibiotics, which usually didn’t even help. I waited so long it was beyond what could be handled.

I was told several times that I could go in for a root canal and be able to make payments on it. I’d get halfway through and they would say: oh no we can’t take payments. It is a very sad situation. [Dental care] is very important to one’s health – one’s heart health – especially for a woman. It’s unfair and unconscionable that for myself – someone who is on state Medicaid – [dental care] is not included in my Medicaid bill. So I can go in and get all the rest of my body parts taken care of and looked at and yet the infections raging in my teeth have no importance whatsoever. I find that in this day and age it is ignorant to be holding people accountable for their health when you won’t cover the most integral parts that need to be checked.

A Personal Story: Painful but Unaffordable – Linda, Woodstock

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Linda lives in Woodstock, Vermont. This is her story:

It has been very frustrating for me to not have enough money to afford dental insurance and not have enough money to afford to get my teeth fixed properly. I am very lucky that one of my very best friends is a hygienist and she cleans my teeth regularly and she has taken x-rays. I have gotten quotes around at least $10,000 to fix my teeth; they have progressively gotten worse because I can’t afford to go to the dentist.

I have suffered with toothaches until I finally had the tooth pulled because that is the only option open to me because I cannot afford a root canal. I have a bridge that needed to be replaced 10 yrs ago. I cannot afford to get it replaced and I pray that nothing happens to it, because it will not only inhibit my ability to eat properly, but it will look terrible and will have an effect on my self esteem. I was surprised at how insensitive some of the dentists are to this situation when I finally went to have a tooth pulled. I got a Rx for an antibiotic to take before I had my tooth pulled. When I went to get the Rx filled it was about $50. Because the dentist wrote it out for an expensive penicillin drug of 600 mg instead of writing a Rx that Wal-Mart could fill for $5.00. I was really disappointed that she was so insensitive especially after I told her that I had been putting this off because of my financial situation.

I think there is a huge need for affordable dental care. And I really do not understand why it is not right up there with health care. Because from everything that I have been told, your general health is so affected by your oral health. I would just like to be able to take care of my routine dental care so that my teeth do not get worst, but the bill just keeps getting higher and higher.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.