Bear's Story - Oral Health Watch

Without Mary’s Place, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless women – many of whom are escaping abusive situations – 32-year-old “Bear” said that she is uncertain where or when should would get care for her broken teeth.

Bear’s back teeth were damaged as a result of an assault. She was unable to find a dentist to treat her for more than three months. Bear, who has Apple Health coverage, said she called nearly a dozen dental offices to seek treatment. None, she said, accepted the state’s Medicaid coverage.

“I heard the same thing each time,” Bear said. “They said that they couldn’t help me because I didn’t have the right coverage.”

Bear understands firsthand the relief that is felt after a person is able to access essential dental care. Thanks to support from Mary’s Place, Bear was able to have the damaged teeth on the right side of her mouth removed.

“If you were in our shoes, you’d want help too.” – Bear

She said she hopes to soon have the two damaged teeth on the left side of her mouth removed during the next “Dental Day” at Mary’s Place. In the meantime, she said that she has been able to find some temporary relief with topical oral analgesics, warm tea and eating pureed foods and soup.

Bear, who also interns at Mary’s Place, is among the tens of thousands of lower wage workers with Apple Health dental coverage who have difficulty access care. For the fortunate adults who are able to get care, it can be life changing, leading to better oral health, improved job opportunities and increased overall health.

Bear said that she is hoping that more people will understand that supporting efforts that make it easier for low-income patients to receive care is a wise investment that will improve lives for some of the state’s most vulnerable adults.

“We need care like everybody else,” said Bear. “If you were in our shoes, you’d want help too.”

Arcora Foundation
400 Fairview Avenue North, Suite 800
Seattle, WA 98109
Oral Health Watch does not provide dental care and cannot provide direct referrals. To find dental care in your area, please visit our resources page. Please contact Oral Health Watch for more information about our programs and oral health in Washington State