Posts Tagged ‘Tooth Pain’

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: 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: 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: A Year and a Half of Pain – Paula, South Royalton

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When Paula moved to South Royalton, Vermont, because she had no job she was on Medicaid. She had a cap on her left rear molar which had cracked, but Medicaid did not cover any dental for her, even what seemed to her to be an emergency. She had to wait until she got a job, and then she had to wait nine months before the insurance kicked in to go get her tooth looked at. The first appointment was just an assessment, and she was referred to a different dentist where she had to wait again to get an appointment. “We were probably about a year and a half out where I was going with nothing on that tooth, dealing with the pain and the hot/cold sensitivity. When I finally got it taken care of by the dentist he said the gum was really worn down and damaged because it didn’t have the tooth protecting it and the surface there. So he actually had a difficult time and it was not the ideal crown that he put on…. It wasn’t a perfect fit.”

With the dental insurance from her new job, Paula could now afford dental care, but still found it difficult to get the care she needed because there were so few dentists, she still could not get on a regular six month schedule. It seemed like she could never schedule an appointment when she wasn’t working.

After she had her baby and wasn’t working, Paula called around to quite a few dentists because she was having pain in her lower left molar again. She found a dentist who was able to see her in the weeks before her insurance from her job ran out. Unfortunately, he ended up canceling the appointment, so although she got her teeth cleaned, Paula was not able to get her other concerns addressed. So now it’s been over a year since Paula has been to the dentist, she has no dental insurance and can’t afford to pay out of pocket.

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.

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: Oragelling Through It – Karen, Lyme

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Karen lives in Lyme, New Hampshire. Her husband, Tom, was disabled as a result of an accident in 1990. At the time, she had some work done on one of her teeth, but was unable to finish it: “We had some money so I saw a dentist many years ago – and I agreed on charges to have a tooth implanted – but the dentist and surgeon both over charged me at my visit.” Karen couldn’t afford to finish the procedure, “…so I just have a [post] where one tooth was.”

Karen’s current situation makes it difficult for her to get the care she needs for her teeth. She explains:   “I got my teaching certification three years ago….  I was downsized last year.  I was a 60% teacher, so I only had a certain percentage of coverage offered.  It would have taken all my salary to cover my health plan.  So I didn’t get one.”

When Karen first lost her job, she called a dental clinic to see if she could get her tooth repaired, but she was unable to get help there, even though her income qualified. “(They) told me to call back another time, no one in the office…  I never filled out any papers.  Now I get some unemployment.  With Tom’s disability, we are just over – I think.”

“I have had three periods of having a really sore tooth.  Most go away with ambasol or orajel in a week or two.  This last one has been swollen for over a month.  (Fat Cheek included).  Tom has had mouth pain twice.  We are at that age.”

“Recently I had an abscess.  I oragelled my way through it – but noticed that my whole body ached.  I found some information that sometimes when a tooth is hurting, it releases toxins into your blood stream and creates other troubles.  My abscess is going away.  Hopefully the joint pain will too.  I am still sore all over and have inflammation in my mouth – so it upsets me that there must be millions like me who are simply out of work.”

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.

A Personal Story: Painful but Unaffordable – Linda, Woodstock

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

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

It has been very frustrating for me to not have enough money to afford dental insurance and not have enough money to afford to get my teeth fixed properly. I am very lucky that one of my very best friends is a hygienist and she cleans my teeth regularly and she has taken x-rays. I have gotten quotes around at least $10,000 to fix my teeth; they have progressively gotten worse because I can’t afford to go to the dentist.

I have suffered with toothaches until I finally had the tooth pulled because that is the only option open to me because I cannot afford a root canal. I have a bridge that needed to be replaced 10 yrs ago. I cannot afford to get it replaced and I pray that nothing happens to it, because it will not only inhibit my ability to eat properly, but it will look terrible and will have an effect on my self esteem. I was surprised at how insensitive some of the dentists are to this situation when I finally went to have a tooth pulled. I got a Rx for an antibiotic to take before I had my tooth pulled. When I went to get the Rx filled it was about $50. Because the dentist wrote it out for an expensive penicillin drug of 600 mg instead of writing a Rx that Wal-Mart could fill for $5.00. I was really disappointed that she was so insensitive especially after I told her that I had been putting this off because of my financial situation.

I think there is a huge need for affordable dental care. And I really do not understand why it is not right up there with health care. Because from everything that I have been told, your general health is so affected by your oral health. I would just like to be able to take care of my routine dental care so that my teeth do not get worst, but the bill just keeps getting higher and higher.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.