So today I am talking about the VA Dental Clinic. I may have touched on this before. Some people say, "oh they have a great department" or "At least your dental is free". There are no clinics at the VA that are so great that I haven't had an experience to share. Let me say this first, the dental is not given to all veterans (which I feel it should be). There is criteria that has to be met in order to receive VA dental care. The ones that I definitely know to be true are: must be 100% service connected(which I am), be a veteran with a service connected dental injury, or be a veteran using chapter 31 benefits. There may be others but these are the ones I know to be true. I unfortunately (or fortunately to some) must use the VA for dental as I do not have any other coverage and I am 100% service connected. I absolutely dread having to go but I get cleanings done every 6 months. I never had many issues with my teeth, always took care of them by brushing, flossing, regular cleanings, etc. I have a dental implant and ridiculous bridgework now. This would maybe seem normal with age or whatnot but in those two instances I was told they were minor fillings which turned into a root canal. I've never had to have any extensive dental work prior but I trusted the dentist. Both root canals went awry and shattered the teeth during the procedure. The first one was in Northport VA on Long Island and ended in a dental implant and I swore I'd never have another root canal. After moving to upstate NY, the dental clinic is almost 100% ran by students/residents. They change rotation every year on June, so you never build a dr/patient relationship and almost always when they change over the new one always seems to find a "small problem". You see, "small problem" now means extensive painful dental procedures. A student just coming into the VA rotation, recommended a root canal on another tooth after painfully drilling the crap put of my mouth. She then says I need to go to an outside specialist because "there was a problem". That outside guy seen me and found my tooth shattered but the VA blamed him. I was sent back to same woman who had to do emergency extraction which ended up in a horrific situation that the head dentist of the clinic had to take over to complete. I was told later that my screams were heard throughout the 1st floor of the VA. I then went through 2 other additional residents before the bridge work was done.
That was this past winter when it was finally completed and I was told to make a basic appt for cleaning in 6 months. I will remind my readers that put me past June, which meant new rotation and new dental residents. I get a call in the midst of all the shoulder and pain pump surgery recoveries, that I needed a "couple of minor" fillings. I flipped out and asked for someone to call me back that could explain why as nothing was on my previous x-rays. I was told this past July it was a mistake on the last resident and needed to be done so as not to get worse. I hesitantly made the appointment and what do know? The new one starts on the "minor filling" and mentions a root canal!! Listen I didn't go to dental school but I take my dental hygiene seriously. I found it completely suspect and said NO! I told her she may as well pull it. I explained my other experiences and she said she could do a filling as it wasn't "that bad". I went home and a few days later had awful pain and sensitivity. When I finally got someone to call me almost a week later, (there is no more emergency dental due to covid), I was by the dentist that I should've called sooner. Ummm what? I tried and she said earliest appt was in 2 to 3 weeks. Well I had that elbow surgery scheduled the day before this date she gives and I explained that it wasn't possible to come in that day. She had an oh well attitude so I said I would talk to patient advocate. She had the nerve to say after being with the VA for 3 months, "Good luck with that, let me know how that works out for ya". Yea I wasn't happy with that and ripped into her which got no where.
After contacting patient advocate, who I know are inundated with crap right now, I got a call from a completely different dental resident offering to check it out. So I really don't know if it was my complaint or not, could've been I scared the hell out of the one that did the shoddy work. I went in to see this lady and I hear talking right behind me as she is comparing prior x-rays with recent aftermath of the now absent resident that did the work. She was stunned that in 6 months time my 2 teeth supposedly "crumbled" while 6 months prior looked fine and gave me no pain or issues whatsoever. She tries to tell me I'll need root canals on the teeth to try and fix them! Like what in the hell?? Needless to say I explained my horror stories and she said she'd try to fix it without the root canal. I had an infection so she packed it with a medicated temporary filling. I was told to call as soon as I noticed any pain and I would be brought in. That was end of September, my appt is in December! The filling started falling apart at least a week ago and the pain is outrageous. The answer I got? They are booked and they'll see me in December! Meanwhile take motrin/advil, the good old cure all.
I am so serious, I'd rather have these teeth pulled. It's sad but to go outside the VA would be 100% out of pocket. I can't do it. This is why I am a staunch advocate of the government giving veterans some form of insurance and we use the VA hospitals for something like displaced vets. I don't know but the care is just getting to the point we avoid getting medical care because of shit like this. I guess we will see in December what they plan to do...yea December. So another month of waiting to see what can be done. Until then it's advil and not chewing I guess.