News and updates about dental health and medicine.

Fighting Children’s Cavities In SF's Chinatown: It Takes A Coalition

Mar 30, 2017
Laura Klivans/KQED


Sixteen years ago, city and school officials in San Francisco came together with dentists to figure out how to improve oral health in students. The program screens all San Francisco public school kindergartners for tooth decay.

For Seniors, Teeth Need Care — But Insurance Coverage Is Rare

Oct 25, 2016
Heidi de Marco/KHN

Aging can take a toll on teeth, and for many seniors paying for dental services is a serious concern because they can’t rely on their Medicare coverage.

Jessica Stefonik is grinning. She's got a bounce in her step. Her cheeks are a little puffy and her speech is a bit thick.

"It feels weird right now, but I'll get used to it," she says.

What she's trying to get used to is the feeling of having teeth.

On the day we met, Stefonik, a mom of three from Mosinee, Wis., got a set of dentures to replace all of her upper teeth, which she lost over many years to disease and decay.

Stefonik is just 31 years old.

New Funding Seeks To Help Clinics Swamped By Demand For Dental Care

Jul 21, 2016
US Army Garrison Red Cloud - Casey/via Flickr

Shane Peebles has a ticking time bomb in his mouth.

He has multiple cavities, including one that has been infected and formed a pocket of painful pus. He also has a disease that causes swollen, bleeding gums, making it painful to chew.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Earlier this year, 69-year-old Aneita McCloskey needed her two front teeth filed down and capped.

“They were kind of worn down and they were also getting little tears and cavities,” she recalls.

Without dental insurance, McCloskey is on the hook for the full $2,400 cost of the procedure. She was given 18 months to pay it before she gets charged interest. That’ll be hard to do on her fixed income.

In years past she would have had to wait to see the dentist again until she could afford it.

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Weeks before school started last week in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, Kansas, the town’s school district began its annual effort to get low-income students signed up for dental checkups. Each year, when parents register at the elementary schools that serve the district’s poorest students, they are asked whether their children have a dentist. “And if they say no, we say, ‘We have a program in our school—a dentist is coming to our school this year,’” explains health services director Cynthia Galemore.

Pavel Poliakov gets a cavity filled by dentist Rob Gartland at a Fort Collins, Colo. clinic run by the Health District of Northern Larimer County.
Phil Galewitz / Kaiser Health News

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — When Pavel Poliakov’s small clothing shop in this picturesque college town closed last year, he felt lucky to be able to sign up for Medicaid just as Colorado expanded the program under President Barack Obama’s health law.

But when Poliakov developed such a severe toothache that he couldn’t eat on one side of his mouth, he was unable to find a dentist — even though Colorado had just extended dental benefits to adults on Medicaid.  Eventually, he turned to a county taxpayer-supported clinic that holds a monthly lottery for new patients.