04 December 2008
While cleaning my 30 remaining choppers the other day, Kim, a hygienist at McMicken Dental Clinic wanted to know why more Tender Mercies residents didn't take advantage of the program at McMicken. It's free to them, after all. And the Clinic likes to follow patients over a period of years, to chart their progress. "Did I mention the free part?" she added, deftly avoiding a patch of exposed root. Alas, there is probably a higher percentage of cigarette smokers in the mentally ill community than in the general population. And many Tender Mercies residents who smoke know that they will receive a brisk lecture about all the damage cigarettes are doing to their teeth and gums. For this reason alone, many avoid going to the free dental clinic. I know older residents who had the choice to make between their teeth and their cigarettes --- and they chose cigarettes. "Well, Doctor Allen really doesn't want to do extractions. We'd prefer to do regular cleaning and preventive hygiene. " I promised I would try to drum them up some new patients. But the nicotine siren is a severe mistress. She wants not just your heart and lungs, but even your teeth. If you have a homeless certificate, or if you are a client of an agency that refers to McMicken Dental, then it's free. Even if you smoke like a chimney, the worst you will encounter is a lecture about why you shouldn't. Nobody will take your smokes away at the door --- although you can't smoke on the premises either. Also, Doctor Allen and her colleagues are not shy with pain management. Upon the merest twitch she will stop what she's doing and give you a bigger dose. Homeless does not have to mean toothless. Ask your case manager about McMicken Dental. (You might have to make an issue of this with your case manager. Many are indifferent to, or unaware of, the McMicken Clinic's existence.) Marginopolis is fortunate to have such a resource.
Posted by David Carney at 20:08