Posts Tagged ‘Dentures’

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: Family Access – Robin, Lebanon

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Robin is a 33 year old single mom who lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Robin and her children have New Hampshire state Medicaid insurance, which is limited in the dental care it covers for kids and does not meet Robin’s family’s needs. Robin’s eldest daughter just had three cavities filled, only two of which were covered by her insurance. It’s especially frustrating for Robin that her dentist claims her daughter is not taking care of her teeth, when, in reality, her daughter’s decay is due to medication she is taking. Robin has Crohn’s disease, and her daughter has irritable bowel syndrome, which will likely turn into Crohn’s. She explains: “I’m already facing probably getting dentures because I’ve been on my medication for Crohn’s for the last ten years … My kids do not do soda, they do not do candy, she’s gluten-free. It’s just the medication makes your teeth bad, so they’re soft, so she’s had to get a couple fillings. And they pretty much tell me it’s preventive care that I’m not doing correctly, and that’s not it at all. So they cover two cleanings a year and two fillings and that’s pretty much where it stops and they do not help with braces at all whatsoever. So she’s not getting braces because I can’t afford them.”

To make matters worse, Robin’s regular dentist has just informed her that he is no longer accepting Medicaid payments as of January of 2012. Robin’s family can still go, and her bill will be a sliding scale fee based on her income, but she doesn’t have the additional money in her budget right now, so she’ll be looking for a different provider.

Robin works with families who primarily have Medicaid as their insurance, so she knows how hard it is to find a dentist in her area who will accept Medicaid patients. A dentist in Vermont she regularly refers families to just told her he’s full and has met his quota for Medicaid patients. Some of the families she works with go to Concord, New Hampshire, for their dental care. “For some of these families that’s a big hardship because a couple of my families don’t have a vehicle … so it’s them trying to find a ride and then of course it’s during the day and then the kids lose out on a day of school.” Some of Robin’s families have had to make repeated trips to Concord, because a tooth wasn’t filled correctly the first time, and it was bothering the child, and they had to go back to get it fixed. “The parents that do have vehicles … it’s just extra gas money that they don’t have.”

Lack of access to affordable dental care is a problem for the adults as well as the kids. “It’s hard for the parents. Because a lot of them get disability or Medicaid and they don’t have the dental services … a lot of my parents are just literally pulling their teeth out and they’re just going without. One of my parents just did that because she can’t afford the dentures. Her teeth were really bad, and she just now is toothless and she just lives that way. It’s hard. It’s very hard.”


A Personal Story: Physical Health Keeping Her from Dentist – Margaret, Lebanon

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Margaret is 96 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Margaret has had false teeth for the past six years, and she had a new upper plate made a few months ago for which she paid $1,000. The problem is that they don’t fit properly and they hurt her after being in for an hour. She wants to go back to the dentist, but she can’t get there, because she has a heart condition, hasn’t been out of the house all winter, and has to be very careful not to catch cold. She normally winters in Florida, and her body is not used to the New Hampshire cold. With no upper teeth, she has to watch what she eats. She has been able to bring her weight up from 101lbs to 113, but would like to gain a bit more so that she’s at 120. Margaret is hoping to get back to the dentist to get her upper plate fixed or remade when the weather is better.

A Personal Story: Cutting Back on Food to Pay for Teeth – Marion, Lebanon

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Marion is 84 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. “I’ve worn dentures since I was in my 20s.” Marion’s dentures were so worn down that her dentist recommended she get new ones. She didn’t have the money to pay for them, so her dentist told her about a credit card loan program that was especially for dental and health care costs. “I paid $150 a month for a year. He did give me a senior discount of $600, which brought it down so that the actual cost that I had to pay was $1,800. But that’s still a lot of money when you’re on Social Security … I had to cut back on my food and buy just the bare necessities. If something wore out I couldn’t replace it.”

A Personal Story: New Dentures Not in Budget – Pamela, Lebanon

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Pamela is 70 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. “I’ve had dentures for 45 years, and they are the porcelain ones, and I am reluctant of even considering the new materials.” But Pamela’s dentures don’t fit as well as when she was younger so she is not able to chew as well as she used to. Pamela explains that over time the dentures get ground down, and that your gums shrink as you age, making a new set necessary. “I can’t bite like a grinder or a pizza, everything has to be cut up in little pieces … new dentures sure would be nice.” Pamela isn’t sure whether or not she can afford a new set: “I have not checked into the cost of a new set of dentures. 45 years ago, my set cost $250. Figuring inflation, I’m quite sure it’s out of my budget, and I hate to waste the dentist’s time.”

A Personal Story: Dentures are Dangerous – Barbara, Lebanon

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Barbara is 72 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Barbara has dentures that don’t quite fit. “The bottom ones fit good, but the top ones, they float. I can’t eat anything with them.” The ill-fitting dentures are not merely an inconvenience for Barbara, they are actually dangerous. “I have, lately, in the last year, choked on anything I eat, like meat … The first time I did that I called for an ambulance…. It scared the heck out of me.” The ambulance didn’t come fast enough to help–fortunately Barbara was able to remove the food with her finger. Barbara has had several more choking spells since, all due to her dentures not fitting. “I’ve had scary [choking incidents] six times, and I don’t care for it.”

A Personal Story: Missing Plate Affects Eating – Thomas, Lebanon

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Thomas is 63 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He used to have a dentist he saw regularly, but since he lost his dental insurance, he hasn’t been back. “The insurance doesn’t cover it. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t.” Thomas is missing a partial plate denture that he lost in a move and now can’t find anywhere. Thomas doesn’t know how to get another plate, or how he will afford it. His missing plate affects his eating. “When I’m eating something, I feel like I’m eating the whole thing … I’d like to get a new partial plate so I could feel like I had a full set of teeth.”

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.”

A Personal Story: Oral Health System is Broken – Marisa, Fairlee

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Marisa lives in Fairlee, Vermont. This is her story:

I am a “big sister” to a girl whose family lives in the Upper Valley. I’ve worked with her for six years now, and have become close with her family. About three years ago, her mom had all of her top teeth, and some of her bottom extracted because they’d become infected and rotten. Unfortunately, she’s been without any top teeth or partial bottom this entire time because she cannot afford the cost of dentures. She has no dental insurance. I know that it affects her self-esteem and her diet every single day. But even an affordable denture plan is out of their price range, or requires good credit for a repayment option.

Also, when my brother turned 18 three years ago and was no longer eligible to stay on my parents’ insurance plan, he lost dental coverage. We filled out paperwork to take him to a free clinic for a cleaning about two years ago, and we were told he’d be put on a list. We never heard anything. Fortunately, he now has a job that provides dental insurance. But our “system,” it goes without saying, is beyond broken.

A Personal Story: Broken Dentures – Dick, Bethel

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Richard is 88 years old, lives in Bethel, Vermont, and does not have a regular dentist. His income is limited; he receives Social Security, Medicare, and food stamps which bring in around $800 a month.Thirty years ago he had a full set of dentures made for $400, and they’ve never caused him any problems. However, last week he was eating a hot dog when the bottom denture broke in half. He brought them with him to the senior center to see if someone could help him get them fixed. Karen, who works at the senior center, gave him the number of a clinic in West Lebanon to call, but she has no idea whether Richard’s dentures can be fixed, or how he will pay for new ones. Richard is glad for the help: “She’s going to see if we can find one that’s not too expensive, and maybe Medicare will pay for them.”