The lack of access to dental care is the new American tragedy. I’ve had bad teeth since childhood dental trauma and food deprivation as a kid. I am a cancer survivor and am living with multiple autoimmune diseases, one of which occurs in my teeth.

I researched all of my options and decided to be seen at the University of New England dental school clinic in Portland. The overall rate for services is lower, the school uses best practices and it gives the students an opportunity to practice their skills.

But it comes at a different cost: I live almost two hours away; each appointment takes between 2½ and 3½ hours because the students are learning and practicing, and not having dental insurance for seven years meant the problems I had seven years ago are now worse. In order to get $300 in free dental care, I agreed to be a patient for two students who were taking their board exams. It was a 10-hour day for me: Six hours were spent being worked on or being evaluated by the board examiners. In total, I had 24 different examinations in a six-hour period – all so I could get some cavities filled.

Since 2017 I’ve had four teeth pulled, a bridge, a crown, a root canal, two dental implants and seven cavities filled. My costs for the past 18 months have totaled $6,300, and the estimated cost for the next 12 months is $5,000. I am “lucky” enough to have a credit card, but I wake up every day worried about how I am going to pay my bill.

As a person who has a limited income, how am I supposed to afford preventative dental care? How is it that dental care is not considered important to maintaining my overall physical and mental health?

Ebyn Moss

Troy


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