I talk to people everyday who cannot afford our plan or the cost to go to the dentist. Great organizations such as Swope Park Health and Cabot Westside offer sliding scale pricing - and many of the dentists that we work with offer credit through Care Credit - but many seniors out there still cannot afford the care they need and don't qualify for any credit. When those options don't work they can turn to organizations like the Don Boscoe center or Jewish Family Services - these organizations do a great job helping everyone that they can.
A couple years ago I met Irdella Franklin. She is a 74 year old woman who worked for nearly 40 years as an aid at Truman Medical center. She has a soft pallet and a degenerative bone condition that makes getting dentures nearly impossible and very expensive. She has been eating a diet of soft foods for 3 years as she has tried to find assistance affording her dental care. Using her gums to chew her food has led to more damage of her mouth and now her ear doctor is telling her that if she does not get new teeth she will do damage to her ear canal as well.
The condition is also painful and causes sores in her mouth that do not heal correctly. She lost her job 10 years ago when she had a heart attack and was unable to stand for long periods any longer. Her heart doctor also believes her teeth are affecting her blood pressure as new studies tend to show a relationship between dental health and heart disease.
When I met Ms. Fanklin 3 years ago she had just paid $350 to a chain dental office, and all they did was tell her that they could not help her.
She has been turned away from several clinics because her soft pallet makes getting new dentures very difficult. We spoke with a denture specialist (a prosthodontist) and were given an estimate of more that $10,000 to restore her bone and palate.
Finally, Dr. Gary Freeland agreed to take a look and told me that it is a very difficult case, but given the circumstances has agreed to take on the challenge.
Dr. Freeland would usually charge more than $4,000 for Ms. Franklin's teeth, but combing the Dental Care 50 dental plan and Dr. Freeland's generosity we are hoping we can lower the price to about $1,700 - that is assuming there are no unexpected problems.
My experience with complicated dental problems is that it is always much expensive than expected.
Dental Care 50 is donating $500 and Dr. Freeland is reducing his already low costs. I hope that with $1,200 we can get Ms. Franklin some new teeth.
Anything over the discounted cost of the new dentures will be donated to the Don Boscoe center, which often helps seniors with the cost of dentures and other dental care.
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