Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
I had the rest of my teeth pulled on Friday. They left 6 because the teeth are still good and will be the anchor for my bottom plate. There is some pain from the pulling which I’m told will go away in a few days. I don’t have the pain of bad teeth anymore. I’m glad they are gone but my jaws sure do hurt. Nothing to hold my mouth in the right position puts strain on the jaw joints. My mouth feels weird without teeth and its hard to talk right.
I’m told it takes about 3 1/2 to 4 months for gums to heal and shrink enough for permanent false teeth. That means it will be about July before I get false teeth. I opted out of paying for temporary teeth. I can live without a thousand dollar set of teeth that will last only four or five weeks before becoming loose fitting.
Dental disease, like diabetes, is a disease of poverty. Dentists and health professionals can preach the virtues of regular oral health checkups all they want but when a family must choose between shelter, food, medicines, and dental care the dental care looses.
Politicians do the same thing. Dental care is, and always has been, an easy target every time the politicians want to cut budgets. Thats why so many states have little or no dental coverage under medical plans for their low income people. Pulling the teeth is harder to cut from the budget because its the lowest cost alternative to paying for major medical problems caused by infected abscessed teeth.
I was on a waiting list at the dental school for three years before finally getting a call that I was assigned to a student. Enough time has passed while waiting that my dental problems had increased dramatically. My high blood sugar was the cause and I didn’t realize it. The prices quoted by regular dentists was way out of my league so I waited for the dental school.
The dental school is not free but there is a significant financial savings of the cost of going elsewhere and a payment plan I can live with. Low income health clinics with dental care are not free either. The costs are higher than the dental school.
There are people in my neighborhood who have pulled their own teeth to avoid paying the cost of a dentist. I could never do that.
Dental problems are now being directly linked to poor nutrition in poverty situations. Uh Duh! What took them so long to figure that out? Poor nutrition leads to gum disease. Gum disease leads to loose and decaying teeth. Gum disease and tooth decay can be spread from one person to another within a family. Mostly from eating with the same utensils and from kissing. Did you know that? I didn’t until the dental student told me.
Living in a food desert and being low incomed all my life its a miracle my teeth have lasted to my old age. Many people I know that are my age lost their teeth in their 30’s or 40’s. Its very common in poverty areas to see teen age kids with missing teeth.
Ok, enough about my teeth and the lack of dental care in poverty situations. I’ve some packing to be done and quilts to be quilted.