A Personal Story: No Help for Young Mom – Elane, Lebanon


Elane lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and has worked for 36 years as a nurse at an Upper Valley hospital. She often sees patients with dental health needs who cannot find or afford care. One case has stayed with her for a long time: that of a 34-year old pregnant woman with recurring infections in her mouth. This woman went to the emergency room multiple times but could not get lasting treatment. Finally, someone got grant money so the woman could get dental work done, and all of her teeth were pulled. Elane remembers, “…and then what happened was even worse, because after she had all of her teeth pulled, they mandated her to go to work, or she would lose her grant…. She was so humiliated with no teeth that she couldn’t go apply for jobs that way. She ended up losing her grant, and … ended up on the street trying to find a place for her and her baby.”

Elane will remember this story for a long time, “We turned over every leaf we could to get this mom help–it just wasn’t coming.”

Elane sees real gaps in the system in the area of dental health–she feels it should all be regarded as medical help, since it all comes down to that sooner or later. She also feels accessible and affordable care would be more possible here if Vermont and New Hampshire had a dental school. “If you have a dental school, you have dentists that need training under the supervision of dentists that are trained … that’s our only hope…. Wherever I’ve seen a program that works where they can get help … [it] is because it’s in affiliation with dental schools.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

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