I was nibbling on a little something while working over lunch today when I felt something rough under my tongue. Far in the back, on the top right, I’ve broken another tooth. This is the third I’ve taken damage to since I got sick in 2007 and I’m just damned lucky that all three are molars and pretty much invisible when I smile.
The lack of dental care is troubling in this country, not so dangerous as the overall lack of medical care, but for those in a professional, public facing role the inability to get dental work done can make it difficult or impossible to get hired in an already tough job market.
I am so out of touch on health care I’m not even sure if this has been included in the health care reform, but it most certainly ought to be.
Without naming names other than mine I’m aware of the dental travails of two other Kossacks besides myself, both professional, and both in and out of serious trouble because they lack access to proper care.
Me first – I pull a crown off about two years ago eating something chewy. No pain, but it’s about $900 for a replacement. A few weeks later I cracked that tooth’s twin on the opposite side. It doesn’t hurt but I’d really like to keep a full complement. I’m still puzzling over what happened today – it’s obviously a change in the tooth, I feel something rough, but I can’t envision what happened. I didn’t feel a fragment come off, but I guess swallowing it unnoticed would be a possibility.
One of the guys I work with disappeared for a week a couple of months ago. I finally spoke to him one day and he sounded a bit groggy. I prodded him for an explanation and he told me he needed a root canal. He has no health insurance but he does carry a small dental plan. He needed to round up $1,000 to get what work he required done, which I didn’t have just laying around. We talked about it a bit and I mentioned my dentist back home had done a drill & medicate on a tooth that was troubling me a while back, apply the cost of that procedure to a root canal the next month. He checked and such a thing was available, so I pulled out my debit card and $300 later he was back to work.
The third is the saddest of all. He has gone from running a high end consulting business to being on public aid and living with a family member after a string of heart attacks while uninsured. He had to take a steroid for some aspect of his heart condition and it rotted most of his teeth.
Two weeks ago he related this to me.
All of my teeth are damaged due to the steroids. I saw the dentist last week to get the worst one pulled and they ended up pulling fourteen of them. I told him "knock me out" and he said the program I am on only covered nitrous oxide. This had to be done because bad teeth lead to bacteria which lead to more heart trouble. They started pulling them and it was too much for me ... but the insurance not only bans anesthetic, it limits the amount of gas they can give you. I started crying after fifteen minutes and they kept me there two and a half hours.
Not only do we have health insurance industry death panels, they’ve also got a torture division in public aid, too. So in order to save the state a little dab of money this guy gets put through what has been used as a form of torture in the past and the pain and stress of it all might have triggered ANOTHER heart attack, which would have been further expense for the state.
Medicine should be done by doctors, dentistry by dentists, the only market force needed to make the whole thing run well is the patient being able to promptly punish bad service. Single payer will save society billions directly and untold amount of pain, suffering, and lost opportunity indirectly.
I’m not interested in a trigger, a cooperative, or any other vehicle that leads to Senator Baucus being able to provide a whole lot more Welfare for Wall Street – lets just do what every other civilized country does to provide health care to its citizens. We’re first in expenditures and 29th out of 30 in terms of care – that ought to be telling us something, except we’ve got a corrupt, corporatist media that long ago abdicated its position as the fourth estate and instead is a running right wing infomercial.
If these stories resonate with you both nyceve and slinkerwink are working every day for health care reform. Read their diaries and near the bottom you’ll find a donation link – our money keeps them in the game, pushing Progressive reform of health care.
As I’ve typed this I’ve been playing a bit with the damaged tooth – a piece has broken off between two molars but it’s too large to simply fall out. I wonder if I can get at it with floss? I guess we’ll see after I get home tonight ...