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The Emotional & Financial Cost of Dental Problems

By Earl G., Duval County

Yesterday was my 65th birthday. I celebrated the fact that I’m alive and now able to get Social Security. Earlier this month I enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, though I didn’t realize that Part B would cost so much. My Social Security check is my only income. My monthly check is now down to $782, because Part B costs $144 a month. That expense really put a dent in my pocket. Just before my birthday I got a ton of insurance companies calling me and offering me to take their plans. It was so confusing. Finally, I got so aggravated with the phone calls that I just chose a plan. I’m not happy with it, because I can’t really afford it, but what else can I do?

I’ve been without health insurance for a few years now. Health-wise, I have a few aches and pains, but I’m not on any medications. But, I really need to have my teeth looked at. I don’t have any dental insurance or extra money to pay a dentist. I’ve had a partial plate for about 30 years. It has broken two or three times. All of my teeth on the top are gone, but I have five false teeth on the partial plate. I have some teeth on the bottom, but all of my molars are gone.

I’ve had to give up eating some things because of my teeth. Once my partial broke, none of the creams would work to make them stick to my gums. It’s embarrassing really. I can remember speaking in front of everyone at church functions, and in the middle of my speech, my teeth fell out. Since then I’ve shied away from speaking in front of people. I try not to smile, because I’m always conscious of my teeth and dentures. It’s frustrating and uncomfortable to talk to people when they have problems with their teeth, and I don’t like being on the other end of that. There’s a lot of judging that happens. It’s all unconscious, but we all do it.

I’ve looked into getting teeth implants, but I’m not into that. I’m older. Dentures would be just fine for me. I just need something to look better and feel more confident when I’m talking and dealing with people.

Medicare doesn’t cover dental or dentures. I read the book last night trying to figure out how to get around paying for my Medicare Part B. I didn’t realize that they would take money out. I just found out yesterday, on my birthday.

If I could get another job, I would look in to having implants done. I just can’t afford it now. I can barely afford food and rent. The $144 a month for Part B is just too much. I know that I’m going to have trouble making ends meet. I’m no longer working. My rent is $400 a month. The electric bill puts a strain on me. I go to some places in the community for food giveaways every now and then. I’m not starving or anything like that, but I know I’m below the poverty level, according to what they say.

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