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need dental help for my husband no insurance

goodcook1006
Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2008

my husband has been in remission from cancer for 4 years, he gets a small disability check every month, he had chemo and radiation treatments and now his teeth are breaking off at the gumline. We need help in finding a dentist,(one who can do oral surgery) medicare will not pay for this and we were told medicare would not pay either. Does anyone have any guidance for us? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
Thank You
email deborbill1@msn.com

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Here are a few potential sources for various types of support, some financial. Hope you can find some help somewhere among these, or that they can point you in the right direction:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Support/financial-resources

This site is put up by the National Institute of Health or some such, and is government-supported.

TereB has responded in other discussion areas with some excellent suggestions, and they may apply for you as well. I am taking the liberty of copying and pasting them as well:

Cancer Care, a non-profit org., offers free support and counseling for cancer patients by oncology social workers. They have face-to-face counseling and counceling on the phone. Support groups on the phone are available too and are moderated by an oncology social worker. Call 800-813-HOPE. They can also give you info about financial resources. Check their website: www.cancercare.org

Gilda's Club - www.gildasclub.org - they offer free social and emotional support. Not sure if they may have financial information but check it out just in case.

Live Strong - www.livestrong.org - offers one-on-one support.

American Cancer Society (here) can also give you financial, support, etc. information available in different cities.

Good luck and best wishes!

Take care,

Joe

TereB
Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

I don't know if many people have dental insurance. I don't. I think this should be part of medical treatment since problems with teeth often happen after radiation treatment in the head/neck area, surgeries, etc. All of this is because of dry mouth which is bad for teeth. Check with the place where your husband had cancer treatment, maybe they will have a dentist familiar with cancer patients. My dentist worked for a while with patients at M.D.Anderson in Houston so he knows not just how to recognize and treat teeth damaged from radiation but he knows about prevention so you won't lose teeth. Some dentists have dental plans. Medical colleges sometimes do dental work at reduced rates.

Try the places listed by Joe (soccerfreaks) because some of them help with financial stuff.

All the best,
TereB

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I agree wholeheartedly, Tere, re the need for some dental treatment to be considered medical in nature following a bout with cancer.

In my case, I HAVE dental insurance, but when an infection was discovered beneath a filling following surgery, chemo and rads, an oral surgeon was required. My dentist tried to do the deed, but it so happened that as a result of the surgery and treatment my mouth would not open wide enough at that time, even for xrays.

So, I went to an oral surgeon who could provide the panoramic xrays and then remove the tooth.

My insurance DID NOT cover this procedure!

It would have covered my family dentist removing the tooth or whatever, but NOT an oral surgeon doing the same thing, albeit under more difficult circumstances.

Yes, Tere, I agree: why oral surgery would be considered outside the purview of medical insurance I don't know.

Take care, my friend,

Joe

TereB
Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

If you didn't have treatment for cancer in the head/neck area, you might not have problems with your teeth. Trying to get the health insurance to understand that is almost impossible.

When I needed to have some teeth removed, my dentist could have done it but he needed info from the radiation people concerning the amount of rad I've had and the condition of the bone. He was not able to get it but the oral surgeon who works with him was able to get it and they decided the best thing was for me to go to the oxygen chamber first (because of bone). I paid for oral surgery myself. The biggest surprise is that the health insurance actually paid for 40 sessions in the oxigen chamber even though it had to do with oral surgery. Maybe it all depends on how the claim with the insurance was filed, I don't know. Maybe insurance felt a little bit bad that I had to pay so much for oral surgery after paying so much to the insurance... he, he, he.

I hope one day insurance companies will see how problems with teeth are sometimes connected with cancer treatments.

Keep well,
Tere

HAWVET's picture
HAWVET
Posts: 318
Joined: Apr 2006

Another alternative is the Medicaid Dental program. This should be funded by both the state and federal government. Good luck.

jbasagic
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2009

I have the same issue your husband has. The teeth are slowly decaying at the gum line. I have been taking it one at a time but I am losing the battle. I can not afford more work and I know the pain will start soon. I have been working with the UF medical school for treatment, however it is still far over our heads. even at a small discount. I don't know where to turn. Half the people I know have some form of dental work needed yet cann't afford it. It is a national social issue.

When I was called for radiation for stage 4 throat cancer, they required an infected tooth be fixed immediately, that called for the typical root cannal. There was no help from United, my insurance carrier, even thouough it was required as part of the radiation and chemo. treatment. I finialy had a bridge cut off and the tooth pulled. That was all the money we had. I filed an appeal with a letter from the doctor saying the procedure was required before radiation. No success.

Where do we go for financial help? I am not for the health care plan but this is a case where many seriously need support.

denistd's picture
denistd
Posts: 508
Joined: Apr 2009

I went back to my oncologist and he wrote a letter stating that the teeth problems were medically related and that the extraction were medically necessary. Medicare paid for that and the oxygen treatments.

newbride
Posts: 142
Joined: Jul 2009

Although I do have dental insurance and am hoping that because my husband had to have his upper jaw surgerically removed (which of course took his teeth with it as well) and he will need to have them replaced once he heals, I don't know how this will factor in. I will fight the insurance companies on the fact that the teeth were removed due to surgery and should be replaced -- the same way women who have a breast removed are able to have cosmetic surgery to replace the breast.

However, that being said, I am also exploring other options since he will not yet qualify for Medicaide/Medicare in our state. Also, most of the places that do provide financial income also look at the entire household's income not just the patient's which means once they factor in my salary we are screwed.

So.....another option is Dental Schools....the dental schools only allow the students in the final year to work on patients and they are under the constant supervision of the professor. Most schools charge a very nominal fee for the supplies they use since the students cannot accept fees. So that "might" be an option to consider.

RedE2NJoy's picture
RedE2NJoy
Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2009

Newbride,
Curious here what state you might live in. I am dealing with a similiar situation where part of the roof of my mouth and right jaw were removed and was VERY lucky to have the prosthesis covered as part of the surgical expense.
My surgery was just done in March and I am now on the second of three 'opturators'. The specialist who made the prosthesis for my surgeon, is in Eugene, Oregon. I see him again this next week and would be happy to ask if he knows of someone in your area if you would like.
I am also using a dental school -in Eugene bi-annual cleanings and floride treatments. The students are VERY good and under constant supervision by both dentist and instructors.
My Dr.s' have all told me nasal cancer is very unusual and I have not found anyone on this site with anything similiar, so would be happy to stay in contact and share whatever info and support we could.
Best of luck with everything and positive thoughts and prayers from here.
John

newbride
Posts: 142
Joined: Jul 2009

We are in NJ/NY. How does the prosthesis feel in your mouth? We were under the assumption that this isn't a good option for my husband although at this point he will take anything to just have teeth. We have not crossed the bridge yet to find out what will or will not be covered.

What type of cancer specifically do you have? My husband has myoepithal carcinoma which is a salivary gland cancer. They told him it is VERY rare. So far I have not found anyone else with this. The first tumor was in his sinus cavity the second in the nasal cavity.

RedE2NJoy's picture
RedE2NJoy
Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2009

The prosthesis probably doesn't feel much different than an upper dental plate would be. It is shaped and fills the space where the roof of my mouth as well as the upper right jaw bone that was removed. Occassionally some food will get lodged between it and my cheek or something and cause some discomfort, but I have to wear it to take liquids and for speech clarity. All in all, it is not bad at all. The third and final obturator will be fitted in another four months or so and it will have teeth in it. This one has none. Fortunately, I still have my original teeth on the left side, both top and bottom.

My cancer was stage 4 squamous cell maxillary sinus cancer. I discovered two lumps in my cheek which both tested positive and then PET scans showed more in the maxillary sinus requiring the removal of the roof of the mouth and part of the cheek bone and then the lymph nodes in the right side of my neck.

I have been terribly surprised at how few sinus cancer patients I have found on any of the sites. Can find a variety of other head and neck cancer situations, but none similiar to my own or that of your husband.

Good luck and I would definately like to know how things progress with your husband.
Thanks,
John

newbride
Posts: 142
Joined: Jul 2009

Thanks for the info. When they took my husbands upper jaw they actually re-constructed it with bone from his leg so he now has the upper jaw just no teeth.

How long was it after your surgery before they started to work on the prosthesis? Right now the most upsetting thing for my husband is losing his hair and not having teeth. He was so proud of his upper teeth because they were always stained and 2 had chips - when he got on my dental insurance that was all fixed and they looked great for our wedding so that is upsetting to him - also the fact that he is a chef by professional having no teeth is the ultimate in torture (not that he can eat now anyway).

He just finished up 5 rotations of intensive radiation (twice a day) and heavy chemo. Now we have to wait 2 weeks for the CT scan to be performed and once that is done we will know whether or not the treatment worked, if he needs more treatment or if they are going to surgically remove the remaining tumors.

The waiting is the worse

RedE2NJoy's picture
RedE2NJoy
Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2009

you are right, the waiting sucks big time.

My first prosthesis was in place when I woke from surgery. The mold for it was taken the week before surgery and the dentist had it overnighted to the hospital where the work was done. It needs to be in place for me to eat or drink to separate my mouth from the nasal cavity. A remodeled version came a couple of weeks after I finished 32 radiation and 7 chemo (cysplatin) treatments. The final prosthesis will be done in another four months when most of the changes from shrinkage, swelling, etc should be over.

One thing to keep in mind and/or ask your Dr about after the CT Scan is that radiation can continue to work for a few weeks which might show some 'activity' on the scan. Don't panic when they say there is still activity, at least until you find out if it is the radiated cells rather than cancer showing up.

good luck
John

pattynonews's picture
pattynonews
Posts: 176
Joined: Aug 2009

You need to fight with medicare , we had to do this with Jack , he has medicaid and did not dental, and when he had radiation he had to have 8 teeth pulled and they tried to tell us that is was dental, when actually it is medical, you explain to them that it is medically necessay due to his cancer and radiation, and your onocologist should be able to call and get a prior autorization, we got Jack's totally paid for through his medically insurance, you have to stand your ground and fight though,

Patty

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