Archive for the ‘Vermont’ Category

Oral Health Facts for Happy Hartford Teeth

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

FACT #1
Nearly 1 in 5 kids in VT
haven’t seen a dentist — even for a checkup— because they can’t afford it.

FACT # 2
Fluoride Mouth Rinse Program has been available to Hartford children through schools for over 30 years.

FACT # 3
34% of all Vermont children in grades 1-3 have a history of dental decay.

FACT #4
Vermont’s School-Linked Tooth Tutor Program connects children to a full range of dental care through local Dental Homes.

FACT #5
There are about 35 hygienists working as tooth tutors in 120 elementary schools throughout the state as well as all Vermont head start programs.

FACT #6
344 children in grades K-3 were screened through the Upper Valley Smiles Program, and 28% had untreated tooth decay.

FACT #7
Community water fluoridation effectively prevents tooth decay, which gives significant cost savings to communities.

FACT #8
Oral health is an important part of overall health.

FACT# 9
Vermont has been ranked as the nation’s healthiest state since 2008.  However, the burden of oral disease continues to silently affect Vermonters. The Upper Valley Oral Health Coalition is working to get our teeth healthy!

 Learn what you can do to have Happy Hartford Teeth.

Tips for Children
Tips for Adult

Free Dental Care for Adults – May 5, 2012

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Free Dental Care. The Vermont State Dental Society is sponsoring  statewide free dental care on May 5, 2012.  Vermont is the first state to offer this event with dentists across the state participating.  Here in the Upper Valley, Drs. Kraitz, Gold and Blicher have reach across the river and enlisted New Hampshire dentists to make this an Upper Valley event.     The participating dentists are Drs. Baker, Blicher, Denk, Gold, Governo, Kravitz, Meyers, Petrescu-Boboc, Santavicca and Willette.  Along with these dentists, hygienists and dental assistants are also voluntering their time for patient care.  In preparation for May 5th, 46 patients have had oral health screenings and xrays at the Red Logan Clinic in White River Junction, and will have follow up care at Red Logan, as needed, after May 5th.  The range of services include hygiene, restoration, root canals and extractions.   Partners in the Upper Valley include the Vermont State Dental Society, Grafton Sullivan County Dental Society, the Red Logan Dental Clinic and the Community Oral Health Initiative of the Upper Valley.

A Personal Story: No Need to Pull Teeth – Nathan, Woodstock

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Nathan lives in Woodstock, Vermont. This is his story:

Twenty-five years ago I went to a local dentist. He stated I needed to have all my teeth pulled and replace with dentures. I was only in my 50′s; this was not an acceptable treatment plan, regardless of my financial situation. I obtained a second opinion. The second dentist told me that most of my teeth would be lost within five years. The most cost-effective treatment would be to pull all the teeth and be fitted for dentures. I was outraged.

Instead, I went to Boston for treatment. It was successful. I have only had to have one tooth pulled in these last twenty-five years.

Why would a dentist’s first course of action be to pull all the teeth? Was income a factor?

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco (click here for Dennis Pacheco’s website).

A Personal Story: No Phone, No Gas, No Dentist – Leslie, Lebanon

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Leslie has spent 2 years out of work due to health issues and has been living on $500 a month for the past year. Nutritional deficiencies over the last few years have weakened her teeth so that now many of them have nerve damage and are falling out. She has no insurance for herself and so has been unable to address any of these issues. She has no income to cover the phone minutes to call dentists or the gas to drive to visit them in person.

A year and a half ago, Leslie’s daughter had an accident in school where she was hit in the face by a basketball and chipped her new adult tooth. Her daughter is covered by a dental insurance plan through her father, who lives further south in New Hampshire, as well as by Medicaid, but many of the prescriptions she needed for this accident weren’t covered and the root canal she needed meant that they still owed $450. “Even with insurance you can’t get in anywhere to get dental care…There are a couple of different children’s dentists around the Upper Valley but they aren’t taking new patients…” Or they don’t take Medicaid. Now her daughter needs orthodontia work, but she doesn’t have the money to start looking into addressing it.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: NH School Nurse Sees Problems in Kid’s Teeth – Norwich

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Sylvia is in her 60s, lives in Norwich, Vermont, and works as a school nurse in New Hampshire. “We see a lot of kids coming in with just completely rotted out teeth.” She explains that it’s sometimes difficult to persuade parents in low-income families to participate in free dental care programs. “It’s really hard to convince that group that not only are they eligible, but that it isn’t a hand-out . . . Sometimes they’re afraid to get linked into the system, because a lot of these [dental care] groups say, well, we’ll give it to you for free but then there’s always some cost, even if the cost is, we need to see you four times a year so you need to get here. That’s a huge cost to a lot of people who are figuring out every day any place they can get to where they could possibly work for a day.”

Sylvia believes providing dental care through the schools is the best way to ensure access. There used to be a dental van that provided care to students at her school, but it has stopped. She remembers it being very successful. “The whole thing came here and the kids were already at school, so there wasn’t any cost [to the parents] . . . I don’t know what un-did that program . . . I don’t know whether they were asked by the state to stop, or whether something happened and there was some kind of a lawsuit.”

The van will be back, but as Sylvia understands it, only to provide cleanings and education. While she thinks that’s valuable, she also thinks it’s not enough: “If we’re seeing a fair number of kids coming with already serious problems, we’ve got to have treatment.”

 

A Personal Story: Pain Comes and Goes – Thomas, White River Junction

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Thomas is 29 and lives in White River Junction, Vermont. The last time he went to a dentist was about five years ago–he hasn’t been back because he can’t afford it. Thomas feels lucky that his teeth are in pretty good shape overall, and he’s taken good care of them over the years. However he does have one tooth that abscessed about eight months ago. “It got so infected that I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t work. I went to the hospital. They told me they really couldn’t do anything about it. They told me to see a dentist, they tried to make me a dentist appointment. I didn’t have any insurance. They wanted to charge me a bunch of money I didn’t have. I’d just had a baby, too, at this point, so I just kind of took Tylenol and ibuprofen and kind of just waited it out. Every now and again it really really starts to hurt–it comes and goes.”

Thomas just found out about the free dental clinic in White River Junction, so he plans on making an appointment with them as soon as he can. He is frustrated by how expensive dental care is: “It should be free. One of the most important things in life is your teeth. I mean, the health of your teeth determines the health of the rest of your body, really.”

 

A Personal Story: No Dentist in 10 Years – Sam, White River Junction

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Sam is 44 and lives in White River Junction, Vermont. It has been over ten years since he has seen a dentist. He just moved to the area in January, and he does not know where to start looking. He gets $700 a month from disability and does not know whether dental care is covered for him. He has teeth he knows need attention, because he can see that they’re decaying. In the past when this has happened, they have been painful and needed to be pulled. He’s also got one that is crooked and one that is chipped. Since Sam has lost nine or ten teeth already, he suspects he will need dentures at some point. He’s planning on asking his doctor later this week when he goes to the hospital for heart surgery if they know of any dentists he could see.

A Personal Story: Can’t Find Affordable Local Dentist – Amy, Chelsea

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Amy and her family moved to Vermont eight years ago, and had three children at the time. “We had private insurance, and it did not include dental. We did not qualify for state dental insurance. We were private-paying for all of our dental work.” Then Amy’s husband lost his job and they could no longer afford $1,500 a month for private health insurance. After this happened they qualified for Dr. Dynasaur for their children. Amy started looking for dentists and found one who took her children on as patients. They saw him for a year and then got a letter saying he no longer accepted Medicaid. Amy found it very difficult to find a new dentist who would take her children, but did eventually find one in the Upper Valley, and most recently she has made use of the mobile dental van that visits local schools. “I do feel like even though it’s difficult to find dental care for my children it’s doable: difficult but doable.”

“As an adult, on the other hand, it’s practically impossible.” Amy couldn’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for her own dental care, so when she qualified for Dr. Dynasaur during her last two pregnancies, she figured she’d use the coverage to address her own dental needs. “I needed two extractions over a four year period. For my initial visit, I had to travel to Plainfield [nearly an hour's drive] … and my first visit took four months to get in.” When Amy had some chronic pain that she needed addressed immediately, she called her former dentist who made an exception and saw her. “I basically begged and pleaded. He did take my Dr. Dynasaur and he was really nice, but it was really clear that it was the only time.”

“The other piece that’s hard for us right now is we have a fourteen year old who needs braces…. I took her to an orthodontist and he said, compared to what she needs, the Medicaid was not going to pay for a lot of it, because it’s partially a cosmetic thing…. I have this fourteen-year old, and she’s going into high school, and I can’t afford braces for her and she needs them.”

“The cost of private dental care is high–prohibitive for me–I am now a single mother. My children and myself, we are covered by state Medicaid. There’s nothing that’s covered for me for dental right now. I need a cleaning, I need dental work done, and I don’t know when I’m going to be able to have that taken care of.” Amy sees dental care accessibility as a nationwide problem that is particularly acute in Vermont. “At one point, when I was the most frustrated, I did call the VT Department of Dentists, and I did explain the situation, that I couldn’t find a provider for my children or for me that was within fifty miles. There was really no help on the other end, other than, ‘Oh well, bring more dentists to Vermont.’

Amy believes compensation for dentists from Medicaid is a big problem. “Obviously, they’re not getting it. And obviously they can’t afford [to treat patients on Medicaid]…. I would guess that more than fifty percent of their customers would come from Medicaid, and if they’re getting paid fifty percent of their costs, I don’t blame them. They can’t volunteer all their efforts. But at the same time, there’s lots of people that are going without.”

A Personal Story: A Year and a Half of Pain – Paula, South Royalton

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When Paula moved to South Royalton, Vermont, because she had no job she was on Medicaid. She had a cap on her left rear molar which had cracked, but Medicaid did not cover any dental for her, even what seemed to her to be an emergency. She had to wait until she got a job, and then she had to wait nine months before the insurance kicked in to go get her tooth looked at. The first appointment was just an assessment, and she was referred to a different dentist where she had to wait again to get an appointment. “We were probably about a year and a half out where I was going with nothing on that tooth, dealing with the pain and the hot/cold sensitivity. When I finally got it taken care of by the dentist he said the gum was really worn down and damaged because it didn’t have the tooth protecting it and the surface there. So he actually had a difficult time and it was not the ideal crown that he put on…. It wasn’t a perfect fit.”

With the dental insurance from her new job, Paula could now afford dental care, but still found it difficult to get the care she needed because there were so few dentists, she still could not get on a regular six month schedule. It seemed like she could never schedule an appointment when she wasn’t working.

After she had her baby and wasn’t working, Paula called around to quite a few dentists because she was having pain in her lower left molar again. She found a dentist who was able to see her in the weeks before her insurance from her job ran out. Unfortunately, he ended up canceling the appointment, so although she got her teeth cleaned, Paula was not able to get her other concerns addressed. So now it’s been over a year since Paula has been to the dentist, she has no dental insurance and can’t afford to pay out of pocket.

A Personal Story: Losing a Tooth Changes Your Life – Clara, Grafton

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Clara is 63 and lives in Grafton, New Hampshire.

“I’ve lost a tooth. It’s a prominent tooth–it’s an eye tooth, so it’s rather in the front of my smile. It’s kind of interesting the way it’s changing my life…. This is actually a type of a disability, I believe. People judge you strangely when you’re missing teeth. It makes a lot of difference in how you can interact with people. They treat you as lower class.”

Clara is actually glad that the tooth is gone. It had been giving her a lot of trouble for a number of years. She says that she lost it as a result of bad dentistry, which makes it ironic that she can’t get help for it. “I was subjected to a deep scaling cleaning and that loosened this eye tooth. Then they sent me to an oral surgeon who implanted bone taken from a cadaver to try to fill the space and tighten the tooth, and my body never ever accepted it.”

As the tooth was loosening, Clara contacted the local free dental clinic. She learned that although she might have qualified for an extraction, cosmetic repair was not available from the clinic. So when the tooth fell out on its own, she decided not to fill out the paperwork. Although cleanings there are still available to her, it’s difficult for Clara to get there from Grafton without a car.

Clara is glad for the chance to tell her story. “The more of us that do participate and share our stories, the more the knowledge is out there that we need to do better.”