Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Friday, August 3, 2018

Teeth

Teeth are a good thing. I don't think we give enough thought to how much our general health is affected by our teeth.

My sister-in-law was in the hospital a few days this week being treated for malnutrition. That sounds horrible but it's a common diagnosis among the elderly. For whatever reason she began to feel bad. Food did not taste good to her, soon she was too weak to care about fixing herself something to eat. The more she didn't eat the weaker she got until she couldn't cook for herself. She lives alone which is often a negative for elderly eaters. Her income is meager so it's difficult sometimes to think of something to eat that she can afford.

There is though another player in this mix, her teeth. She badly needs a new set of dentures. It's difficult for her to eat a lot of food. Meat is often difficult for her to chew as well as a host of other foods.

It seems the healthcare industry does not view teeth as having much to do with a patient's over all health. Dental work is not insured like health insurance. Dental 'insurance' is little more than you get back what you pay into it, and that's about it.

How will she get new teeth? Likely she won't. She will continue to spend money from her meager income on compounds to stick her teeth in her mouth long enough to try to eat. She'll continue to make do.

I would like to see dental brought under the umbrella of healthcare. Why can it not be included in healthcare insurance?

23 comments:

  1. Does your sister-in-law use any of the liquid nutritional meal substitutes made for elderly people and people with eating issues who aren't getting what they need from their food? If not, she should be and they really don't taste bad if they're cold, like drinking milk shakes. They do have some dental clinics that work with the poor, got to look around. If you have a 211 telephone system in your area for referral of social services you could start there.

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  2. Dental, optical, hearing. They are all so important and all are so expensive. Some cities have agencies that will help locate low cost providers for these services. Perhaps if your sister-in-law could check with a senior agency in her town to see what's available?

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  3. Private dental care insurance is very costly. Plain old dental care is very costly

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  4. We have dental insurance that covers basic services and percentages of more extensive repair work. Nowadays, so much dental work is cosmetic, and is available really only to the wealthy.
    I agree with you that dental care for the elderly should be included in medicaid if not medicare. We hear all of the time how important oral health is to overall health.

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  5. I too gave never understood why normal dental care is not covered. Such a kept component of overall health.
    Your poor sisterinlawsi. I hope some service is available for free.

    XO
    WWW

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  6. I very much agree. Poor oral health affects far more bodily systems than most might suspect and should be a matter of serious concern. I don't have dental insurance because the cost of it would be more than what I typically pay for hygiene visits. It's a gamble that only pays off if nothing catastrophic goes wrong so I make a point of taking care of my teeth.
    I ignore the recommendation for braces even though I know that would correct my bite and that would impact my digestive health. I am sure insurance would consider that elective cosmetic surgery, not something that would have an overall health benefit.

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  7. So that’s why Martha ended up in the hospital! Mother is having the very same issue. Every time one of us visit, we take her a medium chocolate malt from Braum’s. It has 21 grams of protein and she loves them! Sucks them right down except for yesterday when I accidentally knocked it off her bed table. It landed upside down and I could only save about a fourth of it! She was disappointed! I get malts for Lillian too and next week I’m picking up a total of six to take to the nursing home! Seems most elderly people have eating problems of one sort or another!

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  8. You are right about dental insurance. And dentist charge way too much. A crown costs as much as a full plate use to. Still, it wouldn't hurt to check to see if there aren't clinics that will do the work she needs at a reasonable price.
    I also agree with liquid substitutes. Smoothies if she is up to making them.

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  9. Absolutely. Your teeth and your eyes are not something that should be ignored

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  10. I've often wondered...if Medicare is for elders, why isn't dental and vision included? The two things that go bad when we get old. Does she drink Ensure? It has protein and calories and nutrients which she needs...and it tastes like a milk shake.

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  11. A large part of my professional services included providing swallowing therapy. Beng aware of changing Medicare/Medicad/Private Ins. coverage was an important aspect. Many of the problems I had to address often included individuals with difficulties you describe. I am a strong proponent of basic health coverage including dental, vision and hearing to an extent that it is not provided today.

    All I can say is, find out which legislators will act on these issues and put them in government with your vote.



    Regrettably those currently in governmental control are highly unlikely to support such and never have been even before this. Until voters understand this, relate the actions and inactions of those they support and that group’s basic philosophy these benefits will never be provided. Only the wealthy who can pay privately for all these services will receive them which they do today. In fact, that current governing group is more likely to surreptitiously, quietly, gradually, cut back on Medicare services currently being covered in a variety of different ways. This won't be broadly noted by the average person, as it hasn’t in the past, unless our news media reports it, but if they do they will likely be maligned for doing so and accused of lying which a certain percentage of people will just blindly accept.

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  12. I agree with you 100%. Have she considered Meals on Wheels? I don't know if you have it in your area. My husband volunteers for the program which he says is really helpful for those who aren't able to cook anymore.

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