Real Stories

Real Stories

Real People. Real Stories.

For individuals without access to a dentist, dental insurance or money to pay for dental treatment, maintaining good oral health is a struggle. Far too many live in pain, and miss work or school. Those with access to transportation often travel long distances to see a dental provider or wait in long lines at free dental clinics.

What is wrong with this country? If a child has a broken arm, we fix it. Yet virtually every day I see children walking around with dental infections that are literally inches from their brain. I recently saw a young boy at an elementary school who was in so much dental pain that he was crying in a fetal position. He cried for 45 minutes until he finally fell asleep. Trying to find a dentist for children like him is challenging. He doesn’t have insurance, and the fact that he’s pediatric adds an additional layer of complexity. It’s truly heartbreaking because I can only do so much. Things have to change.

We refer all of our patients to our Dental Centers. We work to get our urgent care children in to see the dentist, but the problem is there isn’t enough dental providers to address the dental access problem. Since our dental services are available to all ages and economic status we have a waiting list. Children are usually treated with an antibiotic and referred to specialists. Again, the children are faced with the challenge of finding a provider to treat them completely. It’s a continuous cycle.

— Betty Kabel  Director of Dental Outreach  North Florida Medical Centers

Dental and pediatricians for Medicaid is ridiculous to find one that cares. We literally get the bottom of the barrel in Healthcare. My grandchild had an abscess. They put her on antibiotics and she had a severe allergic reaction. I tried and tried to get her seen and finally got an appt in Williston over an hour from our home only  to be cussed at by the front desk lady. She laughed and said, “Well good luck finding a dentist that will see her.” My grandson fell at school and the ER thinks he cracked his adult front tooth. This was over 2 weeks ago. Still can’t get him seen. They said not until the end of March or  beginning of April. Absolutely ridiculous. I’ve looked into getting our own insurance and paying out of pocket. I called the number and they told me that I needed to keep them on Medicaid. We moved here from Georgia last year. They had wonderful Medicaid service there. We could go to any doctor we chose. I can’t even get referrals to allergists or cardiologists here in Florida. It’s horrible.

– Denise N. Suwanee County

I’m in so much pain with a wisdom tooth and they want thousands to do work plus waiting period there is no financial rescue on this . I live in Ruskin but I travel to Brandon seeking help. The sliding scale part is a little ridiculous I feel hopeless as the pain worsens

— Julio M. Hillsborough County

When you have an emergency on your body, you can go to the emergency room, with the exception of the dentist. The ER will give you an antibiotic, maybe pain medicine, and tell you to make an appointment with a dentist. You then get out the provider list, or the phone book if you don’t have insurance.

Most dental insurance doesn’t cover anything more than an X-ray and cleaning. You go to the dentist, they say root canal, crown, or maybe implant on one or more teeth. One tooth without insurance can be close to $2,500, and it’s much more expensive if it’s an implant. 

The dentist will offer you CareCredit or something like that, but if you can’t afford it, your only other option is to pull the teeth. I personally have had to pull teeth from when I was younger and had no credit – not bad credit, just no credit and I could not qualify. I was in that position and it’s awful.

I actually had a dentist say, “Well, it’s unethical to pull a tooth that can be saved.” The ER wouldn’t pull it and the tooth had to come out. I didn’t have insurance so I ended up having to go to a dental surgeon who agreed to pull a molar. But I had to pay for X-rays again. You don’t have an alternative but to pay or pull, and it’s not affordable to repair. I take care of my teeth the best I can.

I wish instead of healthcare for all, the government would experiment and try it with dental care for all. I don’t know if a study has been done to see how many people die of tooth infections because they could not afford to get teeth repaired or pulled. Even pulling teeth is expensive – it’s close to $300 per tooth in a dentist office if you can get them to agree to pull it. The whole time, they try to make you feel awful about not having said tooth, but you know you can’t afford to keep it.

Maybe the hospital should have a dentist on call that will pull your bad tooth in an emergency. Just a thought.

— Ann T. Marion County Featured in

I went to my first dental appointment shortly after we moved here 9 years ago. I was told I had four cavities, I needed a root canal, and I needed four crowns as well as a deep cleaning. My total cost would be approximately $7,000. Being on a fixed income, I could not afford this. Of course, they have a financial company I could go through. They would not even give me a regular cleaning, which my insurance company would pay for. I went to a second dentist who said I needed a deep cleaning, and I had one cavity and needed 10 crowns. My bill would have been around $15,000. Of course, they told me I could get financing through a company they worked with. Once again, I couldn’t get just a cleaning. I desperately need dental work after all these years but cannot afford it.

— Kim E. Marion County Featured in

I am a 72 yr old on medicare/medicaid.I have a crown in the back of my mouth that came off.I spent way to much to have them try & reattach,to no avail.It has to come out,but it has to be a oral surgeon.I have exhausted every thing I have been advised to do.My teeth are very important to me.I don’t want to get an infection or have pain.My deductible for the dentist is $25.00 & I know this is nothing to most,but,for me it is a hudge chunk of my budget that church & family are helping me with.It has been shocking to those that are helping me.I just need someone to take medicare & my medicaid. Thank you for reading & hopefully finding a solution.

– Gail. A. Hillsborough County