To the Editor:
I am writing in support of LD 996 An Act To Improve Dental Health Access for Maine Children and Adults with Low Incomes to honor my loving aunt, who died three years ago from complications of throat cancer.
My aunt was that special person who had only to hear of a need to be the first to volunteer to help. She bathed dying neighbors, babysat for single parents, and fed everyone who walked through her door and she was my first introduction to the ravages of lack of dental health care on those who live in rural poverty.
Card games and popcorn were a standard part of our regular Saturday night entertainment. Inevitably, as the night wrapped up, I would watch in amazement as my then 32 year old aunt would remove her “teeth” from her mouth and place them in a bubbling glass of Polident for the night. She lived with, at times, the pain of ill fitting dentures, and at all times, limitations on what she could comfortably eat.
Post surgery for her cancer, she could not comfortably chew at all and lived on nutritional shakes while she steadily lost weight. Still, she was lucky. Although she grew up in poverty as an adult she was able to afford dentures.
Although Mainecare covers $17 million in emergency dental care, it does not cover preventive care or dentures. It is time to include prevention services.
Save teeth, save pain, save dignity.
Jan M. Collins