Q. My sister has stage four breast cancer, which is now gone to her bones and other places. My question is, I would like to see her remaining months happy and would like to see her smile, though with her bad teeth from the chemo her teeth are all broken or dead, she can't afford to get them fixed. Do you know where we could get help for her?

A.

I am sorry to hear of the impact chemotherapy had on your sister’s teeth. Dental health is important both during and after cancer treatment, but lack of dental insurance and high out-of-pocket costs can make even a routine dental visit a hardship for individuals already burdened by medical bills. There may be ways to obtain dental procedures or check-ups at a more manageable cost. First, local dental schools often run low-cost or sliding-scale fee clinics for routine dental call or minor procedures; if there is a dental school near your sister, they may be a good first point of contact. The American Dental Association provides an online dental school locator. Second, the Dental Lifeline Network offers an online database of free or reduced cost dental services in each state. Keep in mind that because of limited resources and often high demand, the availability of programs can vary and there may be a waiting list.

Additionally, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department maintains a list of local health clinics in each state that provide sliding-scale fee health services. While the main focus of these clinics is on primary medical care, some centers have oral health/dental services available. Utilize the online map to locate programs in your sister’s area, and then contact them directly to inquire about dental services.

Finally, if your sister had a general dentist she’s seen in the past, it may be worthwhile to contact that provider and see if he/she has any recommendations. Offices are sometimes willing to work out a payment plan for more costly services that would potentially allow your sister to get the procedures she needs.

Additional Resources:

Connect Education Workshop Podcasts on Dental Hygiene:

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