Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

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.

Dental care when poor

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.

12 comments on “Dental care when poor

    April 5, 2016

    I just took a girlfriend & her adult son to a free dental clinic run by volunteer dentists, hygenists, etc. It was to run from 8am – 3pm. She got there about 6:15 am on a Sat & was about #50 in line!! Luckily, the staff started about 7:30 am. When she was finished midmorning, the lines were even longer.
    These clinics only pop up every few months, with only a few days advance notice.
    You are so right about poverty causing major dental health issues, Na-Na!!

    • Anita
      April 5, 2016

      I’ve never seen one but I can imagine how many would show up in this area. It would be in the thousands I imagine.

  2. boblosan
    March 24, 2016

    My 76 year old mom had her teeth pulled finally and she has been living with just a couple of teeth for over a year. She paid $7,000 for 7 screw in teeth that would allow her to eat. She has a malformation in her upper mouth that will not allow her to wear a plate anymore. She has been waiting for these screw in teeth for months and months because the doctor has made countless mess ups. She got the money because a medicine she took caused jaw death and she was in this big lawsuit. Then she broke her leg under her hip joint. Recently she broke both of her other leg bones right near her ankle. She still has a couple of teeth and is eating soft foods, while in a cast from her thigh to her ankle and not being able to walk. Poor is not the thing to be in this world. It seems that no one really cares – in the political world anyway. Please excuse my anger for you and for my mom and for all elderly people that are not wealthy!!! It’s just not right – and I wish I knew how to fix it for all of you!

    • Anita
      March 26, 2016

      Oh my, she has lots to endure. I wish I knew how to fix things for all the poor without dental care but until the politicians stop cutting services there is no hope.

  3. sarasinart
    March 21, 2016

    I hope your healing goes well ad quick!

    • Anita
      March 21, 2016

      Thanks. I’m healing nicely. My next appointment is near the end of April. Hoping I’ve healed enough for the next step by then.

  4. Terran
    March 21, 2016

    Preaching to the choir here. It was a happy day when I could finally get my abscessed teeth pulled. I lived with the pain for years. There was nothing else I could do. As you so eloquently put it, food. shelter and my kids came first. I have often promised myself that when I have the time, dental care for the poor will be my focus. There must be a way to do so!

    • Anita
      March 21, 2016

      I would think there is a way but I can’t think of anything. Maybe one of those funds raising sites found on line but specifically for dental care? Like Go Fund Me or something similar.

  5. Donna
    March 20, 2016

    Anita, you are so on the money! I live in a small town with a lot of poor people who have missing teeth. It hurts my heart to see so many young people with missing teeth. There is no local discount places for people on low income to even go to get work if they have the money – because it might be reduced but still not free. And if you have a car the closest is 50 miles. It is a very sad thing.

    • Anita
      March 21, 2016

      Yes, I thought about how hard it must be to get dental care in rural areas. I would be really in a bad way if the closest dentist was so far away. I don’t have a car.

  6. craftytadpole
    March 20, 2016

    I hope your mouth feels better soon. I sympathize with you, right now my dental insurance is a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pair of needle nose pliers. Hope I never have to test my bravery. Sending you healing thoughts.

    • Anita
      March 21, 2016

      Ouch! Just the thought of that hurts. I found out I wasn’t brave enough to pull my own. I couldn’t have anyway because several were broken off at the gum line. Thanks for the healing thoughts.

Comments are closed.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 220 other followers

Follow Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living) on

Down memory lane

Visitors since 7-1-2013

  • 334,676 Hits
%d bloggers like this: