Posts Tagged ‘Tooth Decay’

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: 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: Fixed Income – Ellen, Lebanon

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Ellen is 81 and lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire. She has a dentist that she sees regularly but has no dental insurance. She takes good care of her teeth and gets them cleaned once a year, although her dentist would like to see her every six months. Ellen’s income is fixed at just over $1,000 a month, which means she needs to watch her expenses. In the winter, Ellen finds it more difficult to get out, and the cost of heat makes her living expenses higher, so that’s why she doesn’t go more often. “I’m on oxygen all the time and I can’t walk very far.” Ellen recently had a tooth removed that had a cap on it but had decayed underneath. “I probably could have caps put on or a bridge put across where it was but it’s $1,400, so right now that’s out of the question.”

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: 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.”


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: Trapped, No Options – Nancy and Kate, Thetford

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Nancy and her family live in Thetford, Vermont. Nancy, her husband, and their three children all have dental insurance through her husband’s job. Nancy’s middle daughter, Kate, has been going to the dentist since she was two, having regular cleanings every six months. When Kate was three, their family dentist told them that she had cavities that would need to get filled in a year or so, before they started getting painful. Because Kate is so young, she needed to see a pediatric dentist. Nancy started looking and was surprised to find her options were very limited, with only one local pediatric dentist and just a few within driving distance.

Once she had an appointment, even with dental insurance, Nancy had to pay $110 before the pediatric dentist would even look at Kate. The initial exam revealed that Kate had six cavities which would need to be filled in three separate visits. Because of her age, Kate would need nitrous oxide for the procedure, which was not covered by insurance. Completing those six fillings would cost a total of $565. Although it would delay the procedures, Nancy would need to schedule each visit three months apart because, “we don’t have that kind of cash flow.”

At Kate’s first scheduled visit to get two of her cavities filled, Nancy was not comfortable with how the pediatric dentist interacted with her four year old. Ultimately, Kate pitched a fit, and the dentist couldn’t get the procedure done. He charged $67 for ten minutes. He was now recommending Kate have her cavities filled by him under general anesthesia. Nancy is not at all comfortable with this dentist, does not want her daughter under general anesthesia, but doesn’t feel like she has a choice: “I feel trapped. I don’t feel like I have any other option. I just don’t know where to turn.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Pediatric Care – Kate and Eva, Lyme

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

When Kate’s daughter, Eva, was six, the family dentist saw that she had six cavities in between her molars that needed filling. Because of her age, the fact that her teeth were close together, and the number of cavities, the family dentist did not want to do the work. The pediatric dentist he recommended was in Manchester, New Hampshire. Kate looked for one closer, but could not find one she was comfortable with. She and her daughter made the 2 ½ hour round trip drive at least four times during the year Eva was in Kindergarten. The dentist would only schedule young children in the morning, so every trip meant that Eva had to miss a full day of school. By the end of the school year, her teacher was concerned about the number of school days she was missing. With the extra time and the expense of paying for gas, Kate said, “It definitely was not convenient,” but on the up side, “(Eva) is still positive about the whole thing.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

A Personal Story: Bad Teeth Change You – Lauren, Woodsville

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Lauren lives in Woodsville, New Hampshire. This is her story:

I have friends and family who have gone without dental care because they either were without insurance or simply could not afford to get the level of oral care they needed. The negative impact the look of rotting or missing teeth has on a person is tremendous. Psychologically it is so damaging as to actually cause depression, alienation from loved ones, and may actually cause one to limit any outside contact to avoid embarrassment. The physical problems associated with tooth loss and decay are also impressive. If food is not chewed properly, normal digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals cannot take place. Facial changes in bone structure occurs. This leads to problems – weakness and shifting of healthy teeth. You begin to look different.

I have seen the confidence, happiness, and health of people I know become severely altered as a result of the inaccessibility of proper dental treatment and care.

A Personal Story: Money Is the Issue – Jeff, Bradford

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Jeff is a homeless veteran currently living with a friend in Bradford, Vermont. This is his story:

My dental history in a nutshell: I can’t afford it. I go to a free clinic if I can. If I need a tooth pulled I am going to do it. I just do not like the pain. I guess it is a money issue. Although, I have been pretty lucky. I only had one tooth pulled. But all my other teeth have fillings, most of them. I know down the road things will change. One tooth I have is cracked right now, and I am concerned about that, because I know if I can’t afford to have the crown I will just have it pulled. I have been down this road before. The one tooth I did have pulled, oh forget it, it was pretty bad. I tried pulling it myself because it ached so bad, and I ended up breaking the tooth so all there was left was the base of the tooth, even with my gum line, so when they pulled the root out they had to go in with forceps. I was so happy once they got it out.