Posts Tagged ‘Bridge’

A Personal Story: I Haven’t Been Back- Dan, Lebanon

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Dan is 72 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. About three years ago Dan had a bridge made that cost him $1,700. Like many seniors, Dan has a limited income, so this was quite expensive for him. “They hooked them to two of my other teeth and filled them and put pegs in them, and they just wouldn’t stay in my mouth. And if they did stay, the minute I’d try to open my mouth they’d fall down. It wasn’t worth even having them…. I haven’t been back to [the dentist] because it wouldn’t do me no good to go back to him anyways. [He'd] charge me all over again…. I fell down these back steps here and knocked the fillings out of one of them and knocked the other one out and all that’s left here is a piece of steel that they had it hitched to…. I had that one replaced at least four times. And this last time when I knocked it out out there, I just gave up. No sense of going back for that. [It would] just cost more money, and I ain’t got it to put in them.”

A Personal Story: Heart Valve Replacement & Dental Health – Bob, West Lebanon

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Bob is 61 and lives in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Five years ago, Bob discovered that he had some teeth that were loosening, one of which fell out. Recent x-rays and exams indicate that due to bone deterioration, Bob needs a total of ten teeth extracted, with a partial bridge replacement on the bottom.

Bob has also had a heart valve replacement, which complicates his dental care. He needs to take anticoagulation drugs regularly, as well as amoxycillin before dental procedures to make sure there’s no infection in the valve. The nurse from Bob’s anticoagulation program told him he needed to give himself subcutaneous anticoagulant injections twice a day five days prior to getting his dental work done, a procedure Bob is not comfortable with. He researched his condition online, finding recent articles which do not suggest the necessity of the injections, and now doesn’t know who to trust or who to believe.

Bob also lives with PTSD, and carries cards which read: “I experience symptoms of post traumatic stress including higher anxiety in situations where I feel helpless, out of control, and where my choices are limited or where I feel invisible. Please give me visibility and voice as well as engage me around how I can help you help me in our time together.” Bob sees the situation around his dental care as one where his choices are limited, and one where he has not been included in the decision making process: “My way of conceptualizing it is that one component of the health care system is going to decide for me what my choices are going to be without allowing me to make an informed consent decision.… The idea of injecting myself with an air bubble without being a phlebotomist is stressing my post traumatic stress.”

A Personal Story: Dipping Into Retirement for Teeth – Danielle, West Hartford

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Danielle and her husband are both self-employed and living in West Hartford, Vermont. The only dental insurance available to them pays for cleanings but doesn’t cover the bigger work that she needs to get done. Whenever she goes to the dentist, the dentist will usually find something big and give Danielle a proposal of how and when the work should be done. It usually involves more than one tooth and costs two to three thousand dollars. “It’s a little overwhelming,” says Danielle. She usually puts the work on a payment plan with zero percent interest, but “it still feels like you’re going into debt for your teeth.” At times she has cashed in her retirement money to pay for dental work.

Over the past ten years, Danielle guesses she has spent over ten thousand dollars on dental work. In fact, there was one tooth alone that probably cost that much: She had a root canal, another procedure, ended up having the tooth pulled, two bridges made, and finally ended up with an implant with a crown. At one point, her sister remarked to her: “You can get dentures a lot cheaper.”

Right now Danielle’s husband has a cracked tooth that he has delayed work on for the past year. He’s mindful of it when he eats, but it will probably cost four thousand dollars for an implant if the tooth breaks off. Danielle’s husband also needs to get hearing aids, and they have decided that his hearing is more important than the tooth at the moment. But it’s a difficult decision: “How do you choose between hearing aids and a cracked tooth?”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

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.

A Personal Story: Paying the Rest of My Life – Janet and Sondra, Enfield

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Janet is 53, lives in Enfield, New Hampshire, and has never had dental insurance. She has a top plate denture years ago which her mother bought for her. She only has her front bottom teeth, the back ones are gone, and she knows that those front ones are slowly rotting away. She just can’t afford to get to a dentist to fix them. “It’s only a matter of time before someone goes very wrong.” Janet’s daughter, Sondra, 37, is disabled and has no dental insurance. Recently, she had to have teeth pulled and a partial bridge, which was going to cost $3,000. The only way she was able to do it was by taking out a loan which her uncle co-signed for her. One of the side effects of a medication Sondra takes is that it weakens her teeth, so Janet is worried for her daughter’s future dental needs. “And I don’t make enough money to help her.” Sondra said to Janet recently: “I’ll be paying for my teeth for the rest of my life, mom.”

A Personal Story: Dad’s Oral Care A Worry – Lauren, Hanover

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Lauren’s father was 67 and a retired attorney living in North Carolina when he had a stroke. Lauren moved him up to the Upper Valley to be in a nursing home and to be near family in Hanover, New Hampshire, and took on responsibility for his health and dental care. Although he had always had dental and health insurance, for decades he had refused to see doctors and dentists except in an emergency. When he moved to the Upper Valley, Lauren was able to get him to see a doctor and get caught up on taking care of some of his health care issues, but he refused to see a dentist.

Lauren was visiting her father at his apartment at the nursing home one day: “I noticed these odd things sort of scattered around the carpeting. And they were teeth that had fallen out.” At this point, Lauren insisted they go to the dentist and took him to one. At the consult, the dentist said that all the top teeth needed to be pulled and he needed a partial denture on the bottom. Over a period of six months, all of Lauren’s father’s top teeth were pulled and he was scheduled for surgery to replace something in the bone before he was fitted for dentures.

At this point, Lauren feels that the dentist essentially abandoned her father’s care. The surgery kept needing to be rescheduled, her father was in great discomfort, and the whole process was dragging on and on. It was a danger for her father to be without teeth for so long, especially after having had a stroke with some swallowing reflex issues. Lauren eventually found a prosthodontist in a different town to finish her father’s dental work. Dental insurance was the one insurance Lauren’s father did not carry after he retired, so he paid over $20,000 out of pocket for a denture and a permanent bridge.

Since then Lauren’s father has moved to a nursing home with a higher level of care, but Lauren is concerned he’s still not getting the dental care he needs. Lauren is in the process of applying for Medicaid for her father, because after four years of paying for nursing home care he can no longer afford it. “It’s amazing how it can really eat up a retirement fund.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: When I Win the Lottery – Melisa, Corinth

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Melisa is 43 and living in Corinth, Vermont. She is a single mom who qualifies for dental insurance through VHAP. Six years ago, Melisa found out she needed a root canal and crown for one of her teeth. She paid her dentist over $2,000 for this work, but a year later the tooth broke and needed to be extracted. This time she found an inexpensive dentist further away from her home who pulled the tooth for $50. He suggested to her that she get a bridge within a year and Melisa thought, “Yeah, sure, when I win the lottery.” Five years later: “I still have a hole in my mouth.” However, Melisa has found a way to make sure her teeth are cleaned regularly and cavities filled. About once a year she goes to the Red Logan Clinic in White River Junction: “Without them, I wouldn’t be able to afford it for sure.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.