One woman’s dental history

8 Dec
Cervical decay on a premolar

Image via Wikipedia

An average has 32 teeth. This woman has 17 whole teeth and 4 partial and she has not even reached her fortieth birthday.

How does this happen to an average educated United States citizen? Well here is the woman’s story: (I am keeping her personal identity private to protect her)

Born to a lower class family no proper dental hygiene given to her as a baby. Slept with a bottle, whole milk not formula. No fluoride was issued and it was not in her cities local water system.

As a toddler several unhealthy snacks were given throughout the day. Dental hygiene was forced yet unsupervised, therefore a proper cleaning routine was not established. No history of dental visits.

In early school years random dentist visits were on the calendar. cavities removed and filled with silver. State benefits did not cover much. At home still no proper dental routine. meals were full of starches and sugars, she had very little nutrition. Milk was either powdered or watered down and only given once a day, not entirely enough to build strong healthy teeth and gums.

The woman recalls a time when she wasn’t yet a teenager and she had an incredible toothache. Her father gave her a shot of whiskey and yanked the tooth out with pliers and various other garage tools. She does not remember much of this day however she pictures her father sanitizing his tools with a lighter and rubbing alcohol.

As a teenager the family became a little better off and she was able to visit the dentist yearly. She also learned how to brush her teeth well. Yet poor diet habits were already formed and she still had very little nutritional value in her daily meals.

She went off to college after graduating from high school.   State benefits ended at the age of 18. Since she worked part time to pay for her part of school and her cost of living she had no dental care.

Married young, still no insurance, however she was able to visit a dentist and pay out of pocket at least every two years. During one of her visits she began treatment for Periodontitis which is  a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontists involves progressive loss of the alveolar bone around the teeth. This has since been untreated which can lead to the loosening and subsequent  loss of teeth.

Pregnancy of her first child created havoc for her teeth and gums. Chipped teeth, bleeding gums and cavities went untreated while all the finances focused on their child.

An emergency visit to the hospital spurred correct attention to her dental care after a tooth was cracked after her husbands fist knocked it out.

Tho the solution was temporary to both of the cracked teeth. She planned on having it permanently fixed one day, however circumstances changed when she ended up pregnant again and alone. She has had work done on her teeth when her tooth pain cannot be controlled by over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol,  ibuprofen and orajel. A local church connected her with a dentist that temporary fixed the problem however no arrangements for further care were made.

She struggled to provide proper dental care for her children but she made it priority. Her ex- husband and father of her children does not pay dental insurance so the state take cares of it. Her persistence and care of her children’s teeth has been successful for their last dental check-up they had no cavities!

The woman re-married and continues to struggle. After her last pregnancy the temporaries broke and her gums are very sensitive.  She has dental insurance however the funds to cover the co-pays and remainder of the costs is hard to come by.

She brushes and flosses 2-3 times a day however the decay and destruction is so far along she cannot manage to get them healthy on her own. She is now being treated for depression and anxiety which is controlling her long life habit of grinding her teeth. Her diet is well balanced however with very few teeth in the back and sensitive gums eating can sometimes be a challenge.

So what does she do now?

She has a dentist appointment today however she is not sure how she will cover additional costs. Yet she was forced by a toothache to make the call. She has to get this done.

I share this with you for it breaks my heart. She is so full of joy yet unable to smile for she is ashamed at what she looks like. Has our system failed her?

What do you think she should do? What are her options? Is there anything that can help this woman and others like her?

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4 Responses to “One woman’s dental history”

  1. Madison Woods December 8, 2010 at 10:17 AM #

    It almost sounds like you’re telling my story. My teeth are in a bad state right now, and I’ve had regular dental care most of my life, but I still have some serious issues with my teeth. And I’m in the same boat with not enough money to care for both my own and my children’s teeth, so they are the ones getting the dentist visits.

    At first this sounds crazy. But as I’ve been evaluating my own finances lately, I have seen that I’m spending money monthly on cell phones, which if were put into my HSA would be more than sufficient after a year to pay for my own dental needs. So it’s a matter of priorities. And I think our public system should not be funding my ability to pay my cell phone which is what it would amount to if I recieved state benefits for my teeth.

    In my own case, at least, a measure of self-responsibility is what’s needed. Unfortunately, I’m under contract for two more years with the cell phone company, but after that time is up, I’ll be putting the money formerly spent on a luxury toward my teeth.

    • Jeanie Cullip December 9, 2010 at 4:31 AM #

      Thank you for sharing Madison. I believe alot of people would be better off if their priorities were in order. But what if they already are?

      Blessings & Giggles!

      • Madison Woods December 9, 2010 at 9:40 AM #

        Those are the ones I feel obligated to help.

      • Jeanie Cullip December 9, 2010 at 11:55 AM #

        That’s exactly why I wrote about this particular woman.

        Blessings & Giggles

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