Greg's story shows how difficult it can be for those in rural areas to access a dentist and the importance of good oral health for self-esteem and finding employment:
After enrolling in Medicaid, Greg was excited to learn that he would have dental coverage for the first time in many years. Although he was only 22 years old, he had been on his own since his teenage years and hadn’t seen a dentist since elementary school.
An unstable upbringing eventually led Greg to drug addiction, and without proper dental care as a child, Greg’s addiction further deteriorated his teeth and gums, in some places down to a pulp. “Sometimes the pain’s so bad, I can barely think about anything else, but I gotta get over it. Another Tylenol and a salt water wash and I just have to move on.”
While he’s overcome addiction, returned to the classroom and started a part-time job, improving his oral healthcare might be one of the biggest challenges. His current Medicaid plan gave him the option of seeing dentists in Philadelphia or Scranton. “Philly’s two and a half hours from my house and a lot of tolls, which is rough when you don’t have your own car and barely have gas money to get to work and school.” He opted for Scranton, only 15 minutes closer but no tolls. The dentist only had spots on the waiting list, which might get him an appointment in six months time.
Greg wants to turn his life around. He says so himself. He doesn’t smile a lot though. “No one wants to looks at my teeth,” he says. When he does finish up his education, he also hopes to have his teeth fixed: “I need to look the way a boss wants me to look: professional.”