Posts Tagged ‘Free Dental Clinic’

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: 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: Routine Maintenance Too Expensive – Doris, Lebanon

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Doris is in her 80s, lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and has had a lot of dental work done over the past year. She’s been able to afford it by pulling the money from other areas. However, the routine maintenance is more difficult to afford: “I don’t go to the cleanings often enough. They’re expensive.” Doris knows about a dental clinic she could go to but you need a car and need to be able to go at night. Her daughter has a car, but can’t drive at night, so Doris has no way to get there.


Doris doesn’t understand why dental work is more expensive than doctor’s visits. “The doctors adjust their fees, but the dentists won’t … because it’s nonessential. They think the doctor’s more essential. But if you don’t have good dental work, you’re going to need a doctor very soon. That poison from an abscessed tooth goes all through your body. You’d probably die from it. I don’t think that teeth are not important. A lot of people don’t take care of them.”


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: Living with Delayed Care – Brianna, White River Junction

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Brianna is 22 and is pregnant with her third child. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont, and goes to a local free dental clinic, where she gets cleanings and has had two teeth pulled. She finds it difficult to get in for an appointment, though. Brianna has one tooth that needs a filling; she will have to wait six months before the work can be done. She’s never tried to find a dentist who might be able to see her sooner, because she doesn’t know of any others who will take Medicaid. Brianna wishes she didn’t have to wait so long to get her cavity filled, but overall she’s satisfied with her care, “They’re really nice there.” Her kids go to the same clinic she goes to, and are able to get cleanings and care there as well.

A Personal Story: Bottom Jaw Plate – Wendy, Norwich

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Wendy is 60 and lives in Norwich, Vermont. She has a plate in her bottom jaw because she couldn’t see a dentist when she was younger. “My brother broke my jaw, and it didn’t reset right because I couldn’t afford to go to the dentist and have him look at it. So I broke all these teeth, because I grind my teeth.” Wendy did eventually get to a dentist. “I paid cash, $2,400, and then (had) another tooth out … I should have saved it.” This dentist fitted Wendy for dentures and fortunately they fit perfectly; she has had no problems with them.

Wendy always made sure her own kids saw a dentist, because when they were small she was working a job where she had dental insurance. But without the coverage she would not have been able to afford it.

Wendy works with young women, many of whom receive welfare and have state medical insurance. She finds that many of the women she works with would go to the dentist if they could afford it. Sometimes they seek dental care at the local free dental clinic, but appointments there take months to schedule and are sometimes cancelled.

A Personal Story: Broken Teeth & Unemployed – Zack, Claremont

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Zach is 23 and lives in Claremont, New Hampshire. He is currently unemployed and without dental insurance. “I have some of the older style fillings that are in my mouth that have fallen out. I have broken teeth… I have tried to get help for them. I’ve been to the ER a couple of times because of the pain… I’ve tried calling different dental places and they either want cash up front or they need insurance. A lot of them don’t do sliding scale or anything like that, it’s like a flat rate and you need to have that money when you walk in. I just don’t have that money, I’m unemployed.”

Zach says that the initial visit for a broken tooth costs over $300 just for the x-rays and an exam. Then, to have the tooth extracted it costs over $400. “That’s just one tooth and I have three that need to be taken out right not, and that’s not even counting the fillings.”

Zach had a tooth break three months ago. The pain got worse and worse. “I was losing my hearing, I couldn’t smell or breathe through one of my nostrils because the infection had gone up in my face…. You explain this to the dentist’s office and they’re like, sorry, we can’t help you out, you’d better try going to the ER.” He went to the emergency room but, “they basically just gave me pain medication and antibiotics and sent me on my way.”

Zach was able to get his one tooth pulled through some grant money, but he still has two more broken teeth that need to be addressed. He has tried going to the local dental clinic, but the dentist who was volunteering there was sick the day of his appointment, and now Zach has to wait another three months for an appointment. He’s worried he doesn’t have that long–his dental needs are so acute that they need to be addressed now. “I just think it’s crazy how hard it is to get into a dentist’s office and have them help you out. If I broke my arm or something they’d fix it right away, but if I break a tooth, you sit and suffer with it… it’s one of the most painful things to go through.”

A Personal Story: No X-rays, No Cleaning – Alyson, Corinth

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Alyson stopped teaching in 2005 to be home with her children, and when she did that her family lost the dental insurance she had had with her job. Because she lives in Vermont, her children are covered by Dr. Dynasaur, but Alyson and her husband are not. Consequently, Alyson has not been to the dentist for six years. When Alyson tried to schedule an appointment with her dentist, after she no longer had insurance, the office  informed her that it was time for her to have x-rays done. “I said, I would like to forgo that because that’s more expensive and I’m pretty sure my teeth don’t have any cavities and I just want a cleaning.” The policy of the office was that if Alyson wasn’t going to have the x-rays done, then she couldn’t just come in for a cleaning.

Alyson’s sister had had some work done at the local free clinic. Alyson applied to get her teeth checked there, but she was never called back. “I called back again and they said, well you’re on a list. Do you have an emergency? I said, no I just really need my teeth cleaned.” Alyson felt bad, like the clinic was really only for people with dental care crises, not for preventative care. “I would love an opportunity to get my teeth cleaned. I have really good teeth. I would just love to be able to keep them clean and healthy and good.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Extraction the Only Option – Phil, Vershire

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

In 1997, Phil was self employed and making good money. He had a tooth that needed a root canal and a crown, and he paid $1,200 to get the work done. After five or six years, the tooth went bad and Phil needed to get it fixed. However this time he was unemployed and “basically homeless”, and he could not find anyone willing to do the work. Fortunately, Phil lives in Vermont and had VHAP and went to the local free clinic where he got a voucher for an extraction. “It was really messed up because it was really hurting for awhile and I was babying it and babying it, until it finally finished cracking apart and I went in there. It was really awful, I really had a horrible toothache for like two weeks. Getting them to see me was just almost impossible.” But Phil finally convinced them to move up his appointment, and he had the tooth extracted. “That was one of the best things that ever really happened.”

But it’s frustrating for Phil, because he used to have health and dental insurance coverage through his job, and dentists were also more affordable. Now he feels like his only option is the clinic where he can only be seen for an extraction. “If there’s no real problem with your teeth, they’re not going to do much of anything. You basically have to wait until they’re extractable, which is really awful, and then just have all your teeth pulled out…That’s how our system is working now…Just like it was ages ago…from the 13-1400s until now. If you can’t afford whatever it costs to have someone look at your teeth and get the dental work done, they wait until they’re extractable and then, boom, out they go.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.