Posts Tagged ‘Cavities’

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: Insurance Issues – Melinda & Dave, Orford

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Melinda and Dave live in Orford, New Hampshire and have four children. Dave’s job offers dental insurance, but the rates are high. “We do have dental insurance available to us but. . . the family rate is so much higher than the individual rate, that unless you are going to have a lot of work done it doesn’t make sense financially to have the insurance for your kids. It’s cheaper to pay for expensive stuff out of pocket than to pay the higher rate for kids to be on our plan. . . We also have a dentist who we love that is not on the preferred provider list, and so it’s more expensive than if we had found somebody else. We’ve chosen to stay with her because we like her, we think she does good quality work, and we have a connection there. But it costs us more money.” Melinda explains that although the recommendation for cleanings is every six months, she tends to schedule cleanings for every eight months or so, in order to save money.

One of Melinda and Dave’s children, Angela, has special needs and is eligible for Medicaid. Because of her special needs she goes to a different dentist than the rest of the family, one who specializes in pediatric dentistry. Melinda feels that New Hampshire Medicaid is very good about dental care. They send regular reminders to go to the dentist, and they cover everything fully. Angela needed extensive sedated dental work done and it was all covered by Medicaid. Melinda’s one concern is that she feels that Angela’s dentist may have been able to catch some of her dental problems earlier if Melinda had started taking Angela to the dentist at a younger age. “I do think it’s kind of crazy how medical care and dental care are so separate. Even though we feel like we are getting really good medical care for her, her primary pediatrician was not saying, you need to take her to the dentist this year, even though she’s only one year old, just to see what’s going on. Somebody should have been telling us that. It wasn’t until it was to a crisis point that we took her to be seen and realized that there was all this horrible decay. I think that that’s not an uncommon story. I know that the pediatric dentist feels . . . that he’s seeing all these cases that should have been referred to him much sooner, and never were. I know he feels that the time line for checking out children’s teeth is too late. By the time they’re seen at age five, all their baby teeth have been in there for all this time and you could have seen decay happening but nobody ever looked.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Pediatric X-ray Issues – Heather, Lyme

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Heather is 40, with two young children, living in Lyme, New Hampshire. Her family has dental insurance, and can afford their dental care, but they drive all the way to Burlington, VT, a four hour round trip, for their son’s dental work. “Our oldest son began dental care locally, where I go, and he wasn’t able to bite down on the x-ray wings. He has a really strong gag reflex…. The fourth time he tried he was really determined to do it so he chomped really hard and split the roof of his mouth open. And he was really disheartened.” Their son had had a large cavity filled that had abcessed, and they were recommended to go to a pediatric dentist. They felt like they needed to make sure this dental experience was successful, and the pediatric dentists that were most highly recommended were in Concord, New Hampshire and Burlington, Vermont. “We decided just to go [to Burlington] because we could think of more fun things to do on Lake Champlain than in Concord, New Hampshire.” When she finally was able to get their son’s teeth safely x-rayed, Heather found out that he had eight cavities. The extraction, a space maintainer, and the fillings, took a total of four trips over the course of a summer to complete.

Luckily, Heather and her family do their cleanings locally, and because her kids are under twelve, they get their dental cleanings reimbursed by the family’s health insurance. If they got dental insurance for their kids, it would only pay up to $1,200 a year, maximum, and it would only cover 50% of each procedure, so for Heather’s family it made more sense to pay out of pocket, about $2,000 for all of her son’s work. But the extensive travel Heather and her son need to make takes a toll. If he can’t get his teeth x-rayed at his next local cleaning, they’ll need to go back up to Burlington in six months for x-rays. Heather and her husband both had braces, so they’re anticipating a future of extensive dental care for their children: “It doesn’t bode well.”

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: Dentist Won’t Take Me Back – Naomi, White River Junction

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Naomi is 23 and pregnant. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont, and has dental work she needs done. The last time she saw a dentist was about six months ago, when she got three cavities filled and two teeth pulled. “They told me they weren’t going to see me again because I don’t take care of my teeth…. I take care of my teeth, but my teeth are the way they are because … no one taught me proper hygiene.” Naomi is missing a front tooth and the rest of her teeth have shifted as a result. She needs more fillings and has a tooth that is cracked in half. She is in some pain but feels that she can deal with it.

Naomi got the number for the local free clinic yesterday, but hasn’t tried yet to make an appointment.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

Preschoolers in Surgery for a Mouthful of Cavities

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

–excerpted from The New York Times, Health, March 6, 2012.

In the surgical wing of the Center for Pediatric Dentistry at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Devon Koester, 2 ½ years old, was resting last month in his mother’s arms as an anesthesiologist held a bubble-gum-scented mask over his face to put him under. The doctors then took X-rays, which showed that 11 of his 20 baby teeth had cavities. Then his pediatric dentist extracted two incisors, performed a root canal on a molar, and gave the rest fillings and crowns….

“We have had a huge increase in kids going to the operating room,” said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta, Me., and a spokesman for the American Dental Association. “We’re treating more kids more aggressively earlier.”

But such operations are largely preventable, he said. “I have parents tell me all the time, ‘No one told us when to go to the dentist, when we should start using fluoride toothpaste’ — all this basic information to combat the No. 1 chronic disease in children.” …

Click here to read the full article in The New York Times.

A Personal Story: No Clemency for Uninsured – Naomi, Thetford

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Naomi lives in Thetford, Vermont. This is her story:

For almost 25 years our family had health insurance that included dental benefits. I had to have a tooth pulled a decade or so ago, after a botched root canal procedure; there is a visible gap, but fixing it was and is not an option: insurance didn’t cover such things and it was – and is – just too expensive.

Our children had good dental care while growing up, then, in college, our elder son put off visits to a dentist; he knew that, at the time, we were unemployed and uninsured and there was no money for what he thought was unnecessary care. After a few years, his teeth started to hurt (he never told Mom and Dad what was going on) and eventually he made an appointment. He had seven cavities; we had to find $2,000 to take care of what was at that point urgent. The dentist who had taken over the practice of our former (trusted, competent, kind) long-term dentist was and is completely inflexible and seemingly heartless about payment. No clemency of any kind for uninsured patients: pay up front is the rule. We now have health insurance, but there is no dental component. I’ve been told that I need fillings; my jaw hurts; but I’m just going to live with it.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Delay Causes Cavities – Tessa, White River Junction

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Tessa, who lives in White River Junction, Vermont, hadn’t been to the dentist in five years because her previous dentist had closed their practice and she didn’t know where else to go. Tessa’s mom helped her find a new dentist about six months ago. Although Tessa had never had a single cavity up until her last visit, “I had eight cavities and two root canals, because we went five or six years without going to the dentist. I had a lot of work to be done. And I had just been pregnant.” Fortunately the work was all paid for by Medicaid. “It was a new thing for me and it sucked, especially the root canals.” Tessa does not have an appointment to go back since her dentist’s office got washed out by the flooding [or Tropical Storm Irene], although she just found out he has a second office up in Barre.

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.