Being cared for by the dentist has always been one of my biggest fears. ANY doctor for that matter, causes my blood pressure to skyrocket and I begin to sweat. Some may call this white coat syndrome, which is defined as “a phenomenon in which people exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range, in a clinical setting, although they do not exhibit it in other settings,” almost exactly what I feel. Genetically, my teeth have been doomed to be a disaster from the start. Oral health in my family has been a struggle for almost everyone. So, keep that in mind.
When I was younger I visited a dentist for my yearly checkup and it was a trip from hell. From the beginning I was extremely uncomfortable. The woman at the reception desk was very rude and offered no help to my mother when an insurance issue came up.
“You just have to call your insurance company,” the woman went on to say.
My mom was groaning and pleaded for her help, as she had just spoke to the company a week or two prior when my pediatrician office was giving her difficulties. But, as expected no help was offered.
We waited almost an hour before I was called in. I was brought into the room and sat on the uncomfortable recliner. We thanked the nurse and a few moments passed before another person walked inside. A woman, who I assumed was the dentist sat on the “spinny chair”, as I used to call it. She extended her hand and gave a small hello before she began to work on my teeth. She was rough, more than I expected, pulling at my cheeks in a hurry. I glanced at my mom and she could easily see I was in pain. My mom spoke up and asked her to stop before consoling me and making sure I was okay. Afterwards, she spoke to the dentist outside for a moment shortly before we left.
Since that first incident, I have switched dentists around four to five times now. Some are for reasons such as insurance, as it is difficult to find a dentist who takes mine in the first place. In class, we read an article about people traveling at least five hours to wait in line for hours to meet with one of the 116 dentists. Also, in the article, a dentist had sent a patient, “with impacted wisdom teeth 120 miles to find a dental specialist who accepts Medicaid.”
That line in particular made me think of a similar incident I had. I had to get my wisdom teeth out in December of 2018 and had to travel an hour and a half to get the procedure done. I remember barely being able to withstand the pain as my teeth were pushing through my gums, sideways. Since I had to be put under a local anesthetic and all four teeth were impacted, the cost almost doubled. A single impacted tooth costs around $225 to $600. Some insurances cover up to half if medically necessary, and some cap a patient at $2,000 a YEAR for dental insurance. I find this outrageous. I would not want to experience the feeling of hope, yet doubt, ever again when I wasn’t even sure how much money this procedure would cost. Thankfully, I was fully covered by the state.
Having insurance through the state, due to my father, most certainly has its pros and cons. As per the article we read in class, “ …only about 38 percent of dentists accept Medicaid — about half the rate of physicians,” which I find oddly interesting. If the state accepts and offers lower-income patients to dental insurance, why do so many dentists not accept it? I believe that if the state offers this option to many recipients, then more places should accept it as it assists the state and insurance companies in the long run.