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I’m Not Surprised by #HDASurvey Results

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For three years I lived in excruciating dental pain. You might think I’m exaggerating, but at worst the pain was excruciating and at best the pain was barely tolerable. As you can imagine, I was a joy to be around.

What happened to get me to that place? A whole lot of nothing, a whole lot of neglect.

I have very few memories of going to the dentist as a child. I can only be certain I went twice because that is all I can remember clearly. The first time I remember going, we were told I needed braces. Finances made braces non-viable. The second time I remember going to the dentist I was 14. I still needed braces, but somehow I had managed to stay cavity-free.

Then nothing. I made it through high school and a good chunk of college without visiting the dentist.

When I did finally make it to visit a dentist it was because I was experiencing sweet sensitivity and I knew something was wrong. The only way I could afford to go to the dentist was by crossing the border and seeing a dentist in Tijuana. Things were taken care of and then again years passed until my oral health could no longer be ignored because the pain was intolerable.

Why didn’t I visit the dentist regularly as a child? I was raised by a single Latina mother on a very limited income. We did not have dental insurance and dental care is expensive. It’s not that my mother didn’t want to take care of my oral health, it’s that for the most part we couldn’t afford it and I guess she thought that as long as we brushed regularly we would be fine.

This is why the Crest and Oral-B sponsored Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) survey results do not surprise me.

You can get more information about the survey or read the mini-survey yourself, but here’s what I got from it:

Barriers that Latinos face when it comes to oral health include language and cultural differences,  knowledge gaps, and lack of access to affordable oral care or insurance.

I also learned that aside from dentists and physicians Latinos rely on parents as a major source of oral health education and information.

My oral health continues to be a concern for me, but I can’t go back in time and change the past. All I can do is proceed. I do not want my daughters to ever have to go through the kind of dental pain that I’ve experienced. I want them to grow up knowing that their oral health is a part of their health in general.

I started brushing my daughters’ teeth even before they had teeth. One of them still doesn’t have teeth, but she enjoys a good gum brushing.

They will also grow up with regular visits to the dentist even though their Mami didn’t. It is unfortunate that even with insurance oral health care is still prohibitively expensive, but it ends up being even more expensive to take care of neglect.

Did you grow up going to the dentist every 6 months?

Disclosure: I wrote this post while participating in a compensated campaign with Procter & Gamble and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

 

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  • Kimberly

    I am quite fearful of the dentist.  My mom did take me when I was growing up, but when I was in college and newly working I didn’t have dental insurance or anyone making me go, so I didn’t go.  That was a big mistake as when I cracked a tooth about 10 years later it was just the beginning of so much dental work and $$ paid (thank goodness I had insurance by then to cover some of it).  The drugs have improved greatly so even though I am still a big chicken about going, I always leave thinking that it was not that big of deal.  I feel so grown up. :)

  • Mama Zen

    When I was young, I went because someone made me.  When I got old enough to get away with refusing, I did.  I was terrified of the dentist.

  • Anonymous

    I loathe the dentist. Although I went regularly as a teen I suffered from bad teeth. I found out later that when I was much younger I had a adult tooth come out with a cavity. Mom took me to a Naval dentist who apparently put me through hell. During drilling he slipped and cut a chunk out of my tongue. My response was to flip out and my mom heard me screaming and came back to find this dentist sitting on top of me talking about me being a brat while I had blood pouring from my mouth. Now I am petrified to go even though I need to have all my teeth pulled.

    • http://www.unknownmami.com/ unknownmami

      That is a horrific experience.

  • Lauriematherne

    That’s great that you can raise your children with good care for their teeth. And you are raising awareness of a crucial need among many poor communities, including Latinos. Our clinic has a dentist, but for many, they only visit for extractions. We provide toothbrushes, dental paste, and instruction for our little ones in our program. And regular follow up lessons about the importance of dental care. We also provide a glass of milk daily (or almost) because it’s a luxury for the urban poor to afford milk, or good medical and dental care. Blessings! May your teeth prosper! 

  • Bossybetty1

    I, too, only went to the dentist when things got bad in my youth.  My parents couldn’t afford it.  I was/am a fanatic about my kids’ teeth.

  • http://www.bullinachinashopmama.blogspot.com Tina

    What a moving post.  Our resources for dental care in this country are very sad.   I grew up in a similar situation to you. As result, I had LOTS of dental work as an adult and I still feel self conscious about my crooked teeth. (will get them fixed one day).
    Dental health has been shown to affect your heart health as well…so it’s VERY important.
    And like you, I am ALL OVER my kiddo with brushing and he starting flossing at age 2.
    Best,
    Tina

  • perudelights

    My father is a dentist, and now my little sister, my brother in law, and other relatives are dentists too. As you can imagine, we grew up having regular check ups very often…lol… I have seen how people is terrified of the dentist and try to avoid the yearly visit. I think that, besides the high cost, it´s a matter of culture. You have to teach your children to take good care of their teeth. And regular visits to the dentist will keep them away from future problems.

  • http://afcsoac.blogspot.com/ lisleman

    Oh maybe every 6 YEARS.  It was not until I joined the Air Force that I started regular dental care.  I have a younger sister who I believe could easily afford more dental care but never got into the habit.  Our mother had dentures before she died.  I don’t know the whole history of dental care (you are at least a generation younger than me) but I think if you go back to the 50′s I don’t think there were many dentists.

  • http://www.latinapen.blogspot.com Mona AlvaradoFrazier

    We went sporadically, when there was pain. Single mom, four of us kids, money was for food and shelter. When she did get a county job (in our early teens) we went to the dentist and by that time, you can imagine the results. I bought my own braces when I was thirty eight, same time as when i had them placed on my young daughter. 
    Now my son, who’s not on my insurance any longer, had regular dental care growing up. He can’t afford insurance on part-time job.He goes to the community college’s dental school for checkups/cleaning with the graduating dental students for $25.

  • http://www.anutinanutshell.com Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell

    It makes sense that dental care would be a drop-off when finances are tight, but yet it’s very sad decisions like that have to be made. :(

  • http://jeanhasbeenshopping.com Jean

    I wish I could say we went once a year, but I don’t think it was that regular.  I went for cleanings, braces, an abscessed tooth, and cavities as a child; wisdom teeth, cleanings, deep scaling as an adult.  My girls JUST went to the dentist for the first time this year (ages 6 and 8) because our youngest had a toothache.  The dentist pulled her tooth because the cavity was so deep, it was killing her tooth.  He says she has a 2nd cavity that they want to put a crown on, but she nor I are ready for that emotionally or financially.
    Best of luck to your wee ones.  You’re a great Mom.

  • http://www.agraciouscalm.com Melissa

    I think it is so great that you post about things that are important to you – like being Latina.  You provide a {needed} voice for them.  Good on you for being so passionate.

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