April 22, 2019•Jean's Journal
Disabled People Need Greater Access to Dental Care
People with disabilities who live in institutions often do not have access to dental care. Their teeth are damaged and may not be able to take the medication they’re on. They may not have been taught good dental habits or brush their teeth well. This is important to me because I did not have teeth for a very long time, and it affected me greatly. I wanted to eat better and be healthy and felt like it was time for a change. I had no idea if I would be able to change it.
Someone who worked where I lived allowed me to access money from a settlement in order to have my teeth fixed. They took me to a dentist who had experience working with people with disabilities—something rare because many don’t have that. Many don’t know how to talk to us, don’t know how much work we can take in the chair and what we want for ourselves. I was able to find the perfect dentist to do the work that I wanted with the help of some friends but know that isn’t the case for everyone.
In the facility where I lived for over ten years. I had little access to healthcare. I had no health insurance and no dental insurance and so for the dental care that I wanted, I had to wait until I got out to get it.
This is really important to kids and families who may not have insurance or benefits to cover dental care. Policymakers need to talk to self-advocates and those in dentistry. A lot of dentists don’t know the system of care for those with disabilities. We need to have face-to-face meetings or use technology to talk with us about how important teeth and dental health are to your health.
Sometimes it feels like people in dentistry don’t care about people with disabilities and would rather work with patients who are not disabled because they’re the ones who have the money.