Posts Tagged ‘Quality of Care’

A Personal Story: A Dentist You Can Trust – Joyce, Woodstock

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Joyce and her husband live in Woodstock, Vermont, and have never had dental insurance. About six or seven years ago they both had quite a bit of work done on their old fillings. Three at a time, the old fillings were drilled out and replaced by a ceramic pearl. Unfortunately the dentist drilled up too far into the root which resulted in buckle decay in their back molars. This dentist later closed her practice and went out of business, before she could repair the problem. Now Joyce and her husband were both faced with tens of thousands of dollars of work they needed done, with no way to pay for it, and nowhere to go.

Fortunately, they knew they were moving to a town with a reputable dental practice. This practice referred them to a grant program for residents of their town. Joyce and her husband applied as soon as they moved. They got the grant for the dental work, and their new dentist came up with a comprehensive and systematic plan for all the dental work they needed to have done. “She gave us a very complete plan of action and prioritized it for us, and told us how much (money) they could take off… She actually did the work and took out those things that we had in our mouths, and fixed the buckles.”

Joyce and her husband are now on a maintenance plan of cleanings and checkups which they can afford to pay out of pocket. “We think that she’s great and we are ever grateful for this program because, guess what, we would not have been able to do it. I don’t know what was going to happen to us… We were devastated when we realized what really had happened and what was happening in our mouths, and what we had to do to try to rectify it, until we heard about that program. And without that, I really don’t know…”

Joyce still has some work she needs done. A root canal by the first dentist has left her with a pain in the tooth, and a small bump. Her current dentist recommends some oral surgery and repacking and redressing the tooth. Her dentist thinks the problem may be affecting Joyce’s immune system. When it flares up, Joyce does everything she can to bolster her immune system from a dietary angle, but isn’t able to afford to have the dental work done.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Quality She Can Afford? – Patricia, Hanover

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Patricia lives in Hanover, New Hampshire. Patricia and her husband had dental insurance when they owned their own company, but since the company closed they have been uninsured. Patricia’s goal is simple: clean, healthy teeth. She had a good dentist, but she stopped using him because she could no longer afford him without insurance. She changed dentists hoping to save money but ended up not getting adequate quality of care. Patricia was really unhappy with the work of the new dentist and will not go back. Consequently, she has not seen a dentist in one and a half years. She continues to floss and brush diligently; but currently, she is not sure how to find quality care she can afford.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Access to and Quality of Care – Helen, Woodstock

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Helen lives in Woodstock, Vermont. This is her story:

When I moved to Vermont 13 years ago, I was starting a new business as an independent consultant, and I wasn’t able to afford health insurance, much less dental insurance. I chose a dentist from the phone book and started to get yearly checkups and do whatever work needed to be done, as I had the money to do it. When I started to feel a dull, aching pain in my upper jaw around an area where I’d had a root canal prior to arriving in VT, I mentioned it to my new dentist. She didn’t see anything and ultimately made me feel that I was imagining the discomfort. The pain was beginning to affect my life – it was causing headaches and destroying my concentration. I decided to change dentists and learned that, indeed, I was not imagining my discomfort – I had an infection at the site of my former root canal. In addition, the work of my first dentist in VT had been incomplete and non-lasting. I now had over $10,000 of work to do to fix what she had done and to address the dental issues she had neglected to address. I didn’t have that kind of money. Luckily, my new dentist worked out a financial plan with me and I also learned that if I took care of all of the work within one year, I would not only have a happier, healthier mouth, I could also report the expense on my tax return and receive some tax relief. I saved and put some of the work on my credit card and was able, ultimately, to fix everything in that single year.

I feel fortunate to have made it through that time – much lighter in my pocket, but with my health in check. I have an increased confidence in my ability to gauge if something is “wrong” with me or not, and I made an important decision to make sure my health care professionals listen to me. If only I’d had dental insurance.