The Root of the Problem

For as long as I can remember, my family has always struggled with dentists.  Staying with one practice for more than three to four years was a struggle for us and it always boiled down to insurance coverage and costs rising.  I believe I have been to at least four different dentists throughout my life and left each one due to the lack of insurance coverage. Once I turned thirteen, I was told by my *former* dentist that I was most likely going to need braces and he urged me to get them as soon as I could.  My parents tried to put it off for as long as possible due to the overall cost and how expensive it would really be; about a year later I ended up having to start the process of getting braces.  

Many people, like myself, have had the dreadful “opportunity” to go through the process of braces.  Some last as long as four years or as little as one; I had to go through the experience for about two years.  I grew up with decently straight teeth but as I aged, due to my family’s horrible dental genetics, my teeth became more crooked every year as well as causing an overbite.  I was lucky I only had to deal with the metal mouth for two years; I can say it was not a pleasant experience, nor inexpensive. It was practically the complete opposite. The braces process was quite painful before the braces themselves were even put on. I started out the experience with spacers for a week and eventually got the braces put on afterwards. Then began the monthly checks and wire tightening due to my family’s insurance not covering the expenses unless I visited every single month… it was tragic, but it sped up the process in the long run.

Some people throughout the United States aren’t as fortunate as I was to even have a thought of getting braces or any sort of dental care.  This idea was evident throughout an article I read quite recently. One of the class assignments was to read an article titled “The Painful Truth About Teeth”, by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, which turned into much more than another article to read, but an eye opening opportunity that I was given to realize the lives of other people aren’t always that easy either.  One early morning in Salisbury, Maryland, 1,000 people lined up outside of an arena in hopes to receive free dental care from one of the many dentists who arrived from across five states in the US. Free dental care is unheard of nowadays as someone may spend over $1 billion a year in high-end cosmetic dentistry to make their teeth a few shades whiter, so for 1,000 to have the opportunity to get whatever dental work they may need for no cost was a once in a lifetime deal.  The people who attended the civic center weren’t all necessarily poor or unemployed, they just didn’t have much money to spend on things other than daily necessities such as food or other household needs; the majority of the people just didn’t have dental insurance which made the idea of dental work nearly impossible to fathom.  “The country is way too divided between well-off people and people struggling for everything — even to see the dentist,” says Dee Matello, one of the lucky individuals to receive free dental care that cold morning. A simple dentist visit to some may be the difference between a pain in the mouth for another year or food for the family to others, but why? Why must such a simplistic ideal be so painstakingly hard to achieve?

In today’s society, bright white, perfectly straight teeth automatically signals to wealth in the family, whether it be the person themselves or even their parents.  If someone were to have just a slight yellow tint to their teeth or one ever so improperly placed tooth, one may assume that they’re not as better off or don’t choose to take care of them; no one thinks of the genetics behind it and how it may not be their fault or choice to have “imperfect” teeth.  It just goes to show that the most simple things in someone’s life may be the hardest decision in someone else’s and it may not ever be their choice, but just a way of life.  

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