Clinic sinks its teeth into dental care

Published 9:38 pm Thursday, August 20, 2015

For someone who has health insurance but no dental or vision insurance, the frustration of the fact they’re not all just included under the umbrella of health insurance is probably neither here nor there when one is suffering from a debilitating toothache or is rendered practically blind by a vision problem.

Dental and visual health are, after all, closely related to one’s overall health. The reason they are not included in regular health insurance is likely more closely related to the health insurance companies’ money-grubbing tendencies and Byzantine rules than to anything that actually makes sense to those of us peons who shell out our hard-earned money for insurance that doesn’t actually insure all of us.

Fortunately, however, Suffolk has an organization that has long been helping those who need medical care without medical insurance. Now, the Western Tidewater Free Clinic is seeing patients in its dental clinic who have medical insurance but no dental insurance.

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The clinic made the change to expand access to dental care and to improve overall health. Dental care improves patients’ ability to chew and eat more nutritious food, which boosts digestive health and helps curb obesity, diabetes and other chronic conditions.

For those with severe dental problems, getting care for them will also boost self-esteem and employability, which improves the mental wellbeing of patients and helps them potentially become able to obtain their own insurance.

I got the opportunity this week to meet Thaddeus Davis, who is one of the new patients at the clinic who has a medical plan thanks to disability benefits but has no dental plan.

I cringed as I watched Dr. Ernest Knight insert the Novocain-laced spear in Davis’ mouth to begin his treatment after we talked. Since I had already gotten everything I needed for my story, I made a quick exit.

While I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant for him, either, it’s a safe bet Mr. Davis is thankful for the opportunity to get treated.

If you’re living in Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight or Southampton, are age 19 to 64, live at or below twice the poverty level and have no insurance (either medical or dental), you qualify for some type of services at the free clinic. Make sure to visit for more information on how they can help you.