Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Healthcare, Next Dental Care

As you age, not matter how good your teeth were, they will start to fail. Most of us eat too much sugar and since dental care is expensive and not covered on all employer plans, a lot of you will be having significant dental problems in your thirties. It just gets worse over the ensuing years.

Dental care is way too expensive. I know. I've poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into my mouth. And now even the teeth that have had root canal therapy and porcelain crowns abscessing in the bone. Currently the last three bottom molars on the right lower side are abscessed and the whole right jaw and lymph node on that side are swollen and tender to the touch. I grind my teeth in my sleep, but every mouthguard I had made ($100+ a pop) needed to be replaced with every bit of subsequent dental work.

I am trying to hang onto these bottom molars since they are my only remaining chewing surface. It is your bottom molars that really take a beating in chewing. When a tooth abscesses under the tooth in the bone, the tooth rises slightly making any contact that much more painful. This is probably the tenth time I've gone through this trauma with these teeth. I should have had them pulled a couple of years ago, but a round or two of antibiotics gives me another few months. And since my last experience of having teeth pulled and replaced with a thing like a retainer with teeth has been a complete disaster, I am loathe to lose these teeth. I like chewing. I hate pain. And this time it's really painful. It used to be that if you lost your molars, you got a partial plate and that was that. No more cavities. But like watch makers, it's a dying art.

Now dentists are all about the implants. An implant starts at $2,500. That's just for the tooth. These are the variables. The implanting itself is a separate charge from the implant. You may need bone grafts. You may get infection, and you may have problems of alignment. I can't afford any of this and I'm not sure if I could afford it I'd risk bone grafts. My jaw is rather delicate.

What I need is a dentist who is a partial plate artist. I just don't know how to find such a dentist. In the meantime, I'm on antibiotics again and in pain again. Thank god for Compazine and Hydrocodon. I'm sedated, the pain is still there, but I don't mind quite so much and I'm sure to start itching soon. And day after tomorrow I'll be able to chew again for a month or so.

Dental care is the next big need for the elderly, the poor, and children. Dental infection can kill you. And if you can't eat, you won't survive.

21 comments:

BBC said...

Every fucking tooth I had pulled was like a christmas present. I have six left and can't wait to get rid of them. I hated my teeth and they hated me.

Fuck them, I get along just great without them and making dentists rich so they can have more toys.

Keeping your original teeth is just a bunch of fucking bullshit they shove at you so you so they can keep making money off of you for their fancy homes and toys.

Keeping your teeth doesn't help keep you healthy, more likely than not they just poison you with them going bad all the time and the shit they put in your mouth working on them.

Fuck them, every tooth I've made them pull made me stronger. And dentures look better, not that I can stand to wear them, he he he.

Jaliya said...

I've long been appalled that basic coverage for necessary dental exams, procedures and surgeries is not the norm for governmental coverage (if the country you live in is generous to cover some or all of your heath care!) ... Untreated dental disease can wreak havoc on bone, brain, heart, immune system ... As you wrote, Utah, "dental infection can kill you."

I avoid dental care for two reasons: I can't afford it, and I am scared SHITLESS -- I mean I'm scrape-me-off-the-ceiling phobic -- of dentists. (Did you know that dentists commit suicide more often than any other professionals ... other than clergy?) The money's the prime concern, because really, my dentist is a gentle, very competent and understanding practitioner, and he looks like Luka on the TV show, ER. God help me, he's gorgeous. And he is *very* generous with the pain relief. So I get to sit and gaze at his exquisite Slavic face while the work gets done, and I drool like a blubber-mouthed dog for hours afterward and shlur my words in a way that gets my husband howling with mirth.

I've learned a lot about dental / periodontal disease over the past while and the possibilities for systemic infection and disease are frightening.

EVERY CITIZEN EVERYWHERE SHOULD RECEIVE, WITHOUT CONDITION, BASIC MEDICAL AND DENTAL HEALTH COVERAGE.

Goddammit, I'm sick of this shit. I'm amazed that President Obama can keep his cool-lid on. He hasn't said one malicious word to or about the lunatic "ideas", lies, and threats. He's the sanest man who's ever been in the White House and just the fact that he was willing to step up to the trail of carnage left in his predecessor's wake is enough to make me sense that at long last, there's some honour at the top. The man's no saint; believe me, my eyes are open. But I think he apprehends the ethical / moral imperative to give every citizen a modicum of professional care.

What kind of message is a nation sending out to the rest of the world when it lets its citizens' teeth rot and agonizing disease go untreated??

Jaliya said...

Utah, with all my soap-boxing about dental care, I didn't say what I wanted to say in the first place ... Ouch ... May your mouth heal right up ... It is traumatic to go through this kind of pain ... xo

Jack Jodell said...

OUCH! Utah, I feel for you, I really do. Dental insurance, just like health insurance, is a scam. Sure, they'll pay for your x-rays and cleaning, no problem. But when it comes to everything else, YOU pay through the nose! When you need their help the most (root canals, dentures, plates, tooth pulls), the bastards don't offer much help at all. I'm with Jaliya---HEALTH AND DENTAL CARE FOR ALL!

Utah, I don't want to alarm you, but your abcess/infection does not sound good. GET I TO THE DENTIST! Should that infection spread to your sinuses or even your brain, I guarantee you will not be a happy camper! It would be better to be broke with no teeth at all than to be riddled with infection. Make that appointment TODAY! You'll be glad you did in the long run. Unending pain is no way to live. Please do get rid of all that infection.

Randal Graves said...

I like having my original teeth because that way I don't have to marinate the fuck out of dead animal parts for 72 hours so I can chew through the damn flesh.

Utah Savage said...

Randal you smug bastard, no matter how well you care for your teeth you will start losing them eventually. Then remember how cocky and mocksure your were that you would never lose them, Hah, then tell how lucky you are.

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

i've been hunting high and low for dental insurance...but they only cover 20 percent or up to 50%...if i dont pay the insurance i come out the same...bastids.

Blueberry said...

I am still recovering from a large dental bill. I had to have a bridge crown replaced. It was necessary for health, not cosmetic. They offered me a choice between a new bridge crown and an implant.

They said the implant was really better... but not covered at all by my insurance, and would cost approx $4,000 after all the necessaries were done.

The bridge crown replacement was covered by my insurance but used up my allotment of dental ins $$ for the rest of the year... plus it cost $3,000 of my money. I had to choose that one simply because it was less money out of my pocket, and I have to hope I don't need any more dental work until my coverage year is up. Even my next routine cleaning will be out of pocket for me, and I am supposed to have dental insurance.

BBC said...

I don't need dental insurance, and, Randal, I can eat anything I like to eat just fine, even if I have to run it through a grinder first. This is not two thousand years ago, we have ways to process our food these days.

When eating it's just the flavor you want and it's still there. Just run the bacon through the grinder and run it around in your mouth sort of sucking on it and mouthing it and it's just as good as if you was chewing it up, maybe better.

Or if you can get used to dentures they work well also, I talked to a lot of denture wearers before getting my teeth pulled and they all like them and the fact that they don't have to go to frigging dentists anymore.

I hate having teeth worked on and I hated them going to hell all the time, I don't miss them and tooth aches a bit.

I've saved thousands of dollars by getting rid of them and I do just great without them.

The dentists aren't happy because I'm not supporting them anymore, but fuck them.

Fran said...

Oy! One more damned thing!

Jang-chub Ozer said...

Dental health can be a weird thing. I always had excellent teeth. I could practically crack walnuts. That is until I turned 30.

I remember one occasion not so long ago when I had a jaw tooth break on me while I was brushing. I felt (and heard) a pop as I was working the brush. When I looked down in the sink there was blood and bits of tooth! Luckily the nerve was dead or it might've been a much worse experience.

Personally I blame intense stress for taking a tole on my general health. It pays to stay loose!

Spadoman said...

As a disabled Veteran, I can get dental care, free. I know that is a blessing, but then again is it?
Here is what is happening with my dental care these days.
I went to the VA dental office. They acknowledge that I am eligible for care. But since it has been a year since I last was in there, I am considered a new patient. A "new" patient has to call this 1 800 number and talk to Delta Dental at an office in California, (I live in Wisconsin). The Delta people verify with the VA that I am eligible,(that takes a month at least) then call me and tell me to go to a dentist, (they choose the dentist by my zip code). I go there, they pay for an exam and a cleaning. The dentist puts in an order for the work, (over and above the cleaning and exam) to be done. Then I wait. I have been waiting over a year now. Yes, a year. I call Delta and they say it is pending.
Telling me I have dental benefits and getting work done are two very distinct things. But at least I have a little hope I guess.
When I had a toothache, I just went and had it pulled. That was the cheapest option I could afford. So now, there is more work to be done, getting a replacement for the pulled tooth as I wait for dental care approval from the VA.

Hope you are pain free for a long time. Hope we all get health, dental and social security care until we die.

Peace above all.

Nan said...

I can remember back in the '70s Michigan covered dental under its Medicaid plan for the poor. Then when they started trying to save money that was one of the first things to go -- which struck me then (and still does) as the ultimate in false economy. You're poor, you're unemployed, you finally manage to secure a job interview, and then you have to open your mouth to talk. What's the first thing the interviewer sees? Your missing or rotting teeth. You're SOL for working a register at McDonald's, Walmart, you name it, let alone any job that pays a semi-decent wage and doesn't involve half killing yourself doing stoop labor or scrubbing toilets. Not having government dental care is a good way to guarantee having a permanent underclass.

Plus, of course, bad teeth can kill you. There was that poor kid in Maryland who died not long ago because his family couldn't afford a dentist, an abcessed tooth went septic, and the infection killed him.

My employer offers dental insurance, but after checking it out, I discovered that the stuff a person my age is most likely to spend the most money on wouldn't be covered. It figures.

Comrade Kevin said...

And only a handful of Medicaid programs cover dentistry. DC does, but only because a child died of an abscessed tooth the family could not afford to have seen to.

Maybe more people need to die before we have a public option.

Vigilante said...

I hate flossing. Sooner or later I'll lose enough teeth that I can take care of the others. I'll use a blender if I can't chew. I just have to pay attention to in whose company I get caught smiling.

Utah Savage said...

Vig, I think you're far too vain to go that route.

Utah Savage said...

It's still OUCH! today. And I still fill sickish. So give me a pass one more day. If I live, I'll come visiting. If I die... Well, carry on without me.

MadMike said...

I have dental insurance and it is just like Jack says: it covers basic stuff but it only covers a small percentage of major stuff like root canals. Secondly Utah loss of teeth is not an inevitability of the aging process. Much of their fate is reliant on genetics and general lifetime care and diet.

Mauigirl said...

This is something I worry about too. My mom and aunt's teeth are failing (they're 90 and 88, respectively) and they're very thin because they just don't feel like chewing. It's too much work and often hurts.

I have a friend who had all her teeth out at age 38 and has dentures and has been happy ever since. Said it was the first time she no longer has any pain in her teeth. She always had bad teeth and there wasn't much that could be done.

I swear I'll do the same rather than fight with all those implants and bridges and stuff. It might be easier in the long run.

Utah Savage said...

Mauigirl, I'm very seriously considering going the chopper root. One Big Horrible and then no more dentist and dental bills. And my smile would probably look better.

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