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Care credit, Aspen Dental and Kool smiles on the “Dollars and Dentists” documentary recently took a look into the world of access to care.
Having worked in a medicaid clinic and a corporate chains when I first graduated, I saw the dark side and had to move on to private care. Over treatment and under treatment were what were confusing for a new graduate. A lot of these clinics employ recent graduates like myself in the early days looking just to pay off their student loans.
Some things struck interesting to me on this documentary. One of the women who received dentures from charity was one of the first I observed. She stated she had to go to the emergency room multiple times at $3000 per visit just to get an antibiotic because she could not afford to go to the dentist. A normal visit to the dentist may cost about $100 and you could actually get a diagnosis from them in order to move forward getting your mouth healthy instead of enduring the pain.
Not having dental insurance is not an excuse for going to the dentist. Dental visits can be very costly if you find yourself in an emergency situation. Costly meaning- time missed from work, pain endured and only limited options for long term care.
I agree with Aspen Dental in a sense of needing to take an overall look in someone’s mouth in order to inform them what is down the line for the patient’s health. A lot of problems with dental maladies is that most of the time dental infections don’t hurt. It is up to the care provider to let the patient know what other conditions exist in their mouth and give them an opportunity to have the problems taken care of while they are in the chair and before a potential life threatening infection occurs. Having treated the same people over and over in the same situation – eventually the antibiotics do not work. A can of fix a flat can only work for so long before you have to face the situation of buying a new tire and praying it will not leave you stranded
It is not fair to judge a book by its cover. If we assumed everyone could not afford care, then no one would be given the opportunity to become healthy.

I have worked in a denture clinic in the early part of my career which accepted medicaid. We only did what medicaid would pay for. It was a sad situation, seeing a 16 year old girl pregnant for the third time who the only thing we could offer was to remove all of her teeth and give her dentures because of the access to care.

No one has a hole burning in their pocket for dentistry. People need to be given an opportunity to get healthy.
Dental disease is totally preventable if given proper nutrition, instructions and giving instructions on how to take care of your mouth and thus followed.

I will continue to blog on the next items that came to mind.

More soon… Dr. Linda