I’m presently on Medicaid and using the dental benefits, but I turn 21 early next year. I’m freaking out a bit because I haven’t been able to get time off work to have my wisdom teeth extracted yet and it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to in time. I’m in retail, so with the holiday season, my boss says the best she can do is my normal two days off, but that she’s willing to stack them, so I get four in a row. When I talked to my dental office about this, they couldn’t provide information, and they seemed really iffy about whether four days would be enough time to recover. Why is there a cut off at age 21 and is there any way to extend it?
Medicaid Dental Benefits Usually Stop at Age 21
The government recognizes that dental health is an important component of overall health. This is why coverage is mandated for children. Once people age out of the system, it’s up to individual states whether coverage is offered. Most don’t offer it, or they have subcontracted insurances and leave it up to the insurance companies as to whether coverage extends into adulthood.
The harsh reality is that there isn’t enough money to fund these programs. There are presently more than 2.6 million people in Ohio enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP; a nearly 24% increase since 2013. Yet, the budget has only increased once since 2000. Everything has a cost and businesses don’t have unlimited access to money. Neither does the government, especially because they can only use our money.
You Might Be Ok to Return to Work After Four Days
Most people can start returning to normal activities about 3-4 days after wisdom tooth surgery. It might take longer if your teeth came in at an odd angle, were impacted, or you had other things going on. You can also influence your healing rate by not smoking, avoiding exercise, and by taking care to leave the blood clot that forms intact. For example, you don’t want to spit or drink through a straw. You’ll want to avoid things that can dry tissues out, like alcohol (commonly found in mouthwashes), and foods that are hard, sharp, sticky, etc.
You Can Find Affordable Treatment Later Too
Check with your employer to find out if dental coverage is available. Oftentimes, extractions are considered “major” services and 50% is paid after you reach your deductible, but plans will vary. You can also see if your dental office offers payment plans or accepts Care Credit. The latter works like a credit card for medical services, but usually doesn’t charge interest for a preset period of time, so it can serve as free financing if you qualify and you get it paid off quickly. Most dentists who accept Medicaid are also affordable dentists who will work with you.
Ultimately, how you choose to address this is a personal decision. There’s no wrong or right. However, if your wisdom teeth are causing you discomfort or shifting your teeth, it’s certainly better to address them sooner rather than later.
This blog is brought to you by the Cleveland Dentists of Angel Dental Care.