Archive for March 19th, 2012

A Personal Story: Cost Overshadows Everything – Anne and Evan, Lebanon

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Anne is 60 and has an 18 year old adopted son, Evan, with Downs Syndrome. Anne explains that people with Downs Syndrome have short, spindly fragile teeth that break a lot. She’s determined that her son be able to keep his teeth in the best condition possible: “His smile is his passport to the world.” Evan’s local dentist retired and that dentist’s replacement left, so Anne now has to drive from Lebanon, New Hampshire, to Burlington for dental care for Evan. Because of Evan’s Downs Syndrome, he needs to have all dental work done under anesthesia, and even routine care is complicated. He recently had an x-ray, fillings, extractions and sealants, and Anne just got the bill for $4,000. Usually Evan’s maintenance work costs $1,700, and is not covered by insurance. “It should be done every six months, but I don’t have $1,700 every six months.” Anne put the dental work on her Visa card. “On one card alone I have a $22,500 balance and almost all of it’s this.”

Anne needs to have a knee replaced. She has trouble walking, falls a lot, and she says, “the pain is excruciating.” Anne says that the cost of Evan’s dental care prevents her from having the money to get her knee replaced. “The ripple effect of this is so huge, I can hardly talk about this without crying. I can’t walk. Sometimes I order groceries in. There was no handicapped parking space tonight … I don’t know how much longer I can go on.”

A Personal Story: Top Teeth are Bad – Steven, Lebanon

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Steven is 49 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He just went to the local free dental clinic where he had three extractions and some fillings. “It’s basically my top teeth. My bottom teeth are fine, it’s just my top teeth that are bad.” Steven had to wait a month or two to get the work done, but the experience was good, and he’s satisfied. They told him he’s good for another year, and then, Steven says, “We’ll see.”

A Personal Story: Take from Peter to Pay Paul – Jim, Lebanon

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Jim is 74 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Jim doesn’t like to go to the dentist, but he does because sometimes he has to. He finds it quite expensive. He doesn’t get cleanings, but does go for extractions. “I wait until I need one out and then I have it out. I had like seven filled when I was in grammar school. It took all these years and I’m slowly losing them one by one. Other than that I’ve got most of them.”

Jim can tell when one of his teeth needs to come out because he gets a tooth ache that he can control with Oragel. When that stops working, he knows he needs the extraction. “If it starts swelling then I know it’s got to be taken out.” Jim calls his dentist, and can usually get in for an appointment right away. An extraction costs around $170. “I pay him when I can, but then it shorts some other person. Take from Peter to pay Paul. Sometimes I have to borrow the money. I have a brother that I can borrow from, I don’t have to pay him interest, so I do it that way.”

A Personal Story: More Than 10 Years – Janet, Canaan

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Janet is 57, lives in Caanan, New Hampshire and does not have a dentist that she sees regularly. It’s been more than ten years since she last saw a dentist. She doesn’t like dentists and she thinks it’s expensive to see one. Janet suspects she probably has dental work she needs done, but is not in any pain and has no immediate plans to see a dentist.

A Personal Story: It’s Been A Long Time – Linda, Plainfield

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Linda is 60 and lives in Plainfield, New Hampshire. She has been recently hospitalized with asthma and is having difficulty managing her condition. Linda doesn’t remember the last time she visited a dentist. “It’s been a long time.” Her health problems, being in and out of the hospital, have prevented her from seeing a dentist. She doesn’t know whether or not she needs any work done: “I have no idea.” She has Medicaid and Medicare, but doesn’t know whether or not they cover cleanings.

A Personal Story: Two Teeth Left – Alvin, Enfield

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Alvin is 71 and lives in Enfield, New Hampshire. When he was 19 he had to have several teeth extracted. “I had bad teeth. They rotted right to the gum. Then I had to have them out.” Alvin doesn’t have a dentist he sees currently. “I have two teeth left, that’s all. One is loose. It won’t come out, but it’s loose enough you know it’s loose. It’s weird … I’ve only got two on the bottom–I need them to eat with.” He hasn’t gone to see anyone because he thinks his teeth will last without a visit to the dentist. Alvin doesn’t think dentures would be practical, because they’d have to fit over his remaining teeth, and food would get stuck under them. Alvin knows people who have gotten dentures and don’t like them; they prefer eating without them. As far as his own teeth are concerned: “They’re better off the way they are.”