In December, Put People First! PA asked our members to share their experience with accessing dental care as part of a campaign to pressure the Pennsylvania legislature to restore the Adult Dental Benefit to Medicaid. Do you have a story to share? Reach out to Harrison ( or Jessica ( to share your story.

Here’s a few excerpts from letters that were sent to Governor Shapiro this past month.

I have struggled for decades to be able to afford consistent dental care. I am now 45 years old, missing 6 teeth and have two additional broken ones. I face ongoing bouts of pain or infection along with difficulty eating and I am unable to afford the dental care I need to fix these problems. They only keep getting worse and putting my health in jeopardy.

After I was cut off of Medicaid in 2018 for making a little bit too much money, I discovered that the free dental clinics near me had waiting lists so long they stopped adding names. I tried to be responsible and pay for a cheap dental plan on Pennie. I’ve paid for it for over two years now and have yet to find a dentist who will take it. Most recently, I was told by the Aspen Dental nearest me (40 mins away) that they are only allowed to have 280 patients with a government subsidized plan and they couldn’t treat me because they were at their limit.
Jess – Lake Ariel, PA 18436

During the pandemic, I couldn’t get regular dental treatment; if I had, the cavities I had could have been filled. So I had to have emergency extraction of my teeth, not just once, but 3 times. My dentist & I decided to have the remaining teeth pulled & get dentures. I have multiple illnesses that caused my teeth to weaken. Now, at the age of 54, I have no teeth and that has contributed to my digestive problems. I need a full set of teeth which I cannot now get. Again, during the pandemic, I could not get the oral surgery, although I was approved for it. Teeth do not qualify for emergency surgery. By the time I could get the surgery, the dentist’s office that had approved it had closed, the work was never done, and now PA Health & Wellness is saying that the work was done, since it was approved, but the records are unavailable since the office closed. I am stuck because PA Health & Wellness & Kazur dental haven’t done their jobs. Besides the pain & dysfunction of not having teeth, I’m caught in the red tape of rules that were not adapted to Covid and now I’m paying the price. PA Health & Wellness needs to look in their records to see the work was never paid for, but have repeatedly denied my appeals.
Rica – Irwin, PA 15642

When I was 5, I went to the dentist. Nobody would explain to me what they were doing. So when a strange man tried to stick a giant needle into my mouth, I bit him. Hard. They decided the only solution was to send me to a no-anesthesia dentist. I was a child, getting severe dental work done, without any numbing. For years. Eventually, I got old enough to refuse. We switched dentists. He also failed to explain what he was doing with the large needle, so I bit him gently as a warning. He explained it to me, and I let him numb me. That dentist retired a few years ago. I couldn’t find a new one who would take my Medicaid insurance. Eventually, I had a tooth infection so bad I went to the ER more than once. I was out of options, so I went to a dentist I heard good things about, who wouldn’t take me insurance. I have to pay out of pocket. I had to pay, without any assistance, for two tooth extractions and three root canals that failed. Then for a partial denture. Then for a full extraction of my upper teeth. Then the process of getting full dentures. All of this could’ve been avoided had I been able to find a dentist who took my insurance after my dentist retired, instead of going several years without seeing one. I am 25, have a full set of upper dentures, and have had to pay several thousands of dollars. Do better.
Cassidy – Dallas, PA 18612

In 2024, we’re launching a social media campaign similar to our #MedicaidMondays to make visible our need for the Adult Dental Benefit, to put public pressure on the Governor to pass the budget. To ensure the State will adequately fund the ADB restoration, we members of Put People First! PA must keep the pressure on Shapiro, building our base and sharing our stories to transform what is politically possible in this state. Our teeth are not disposable and neither are we. 

Share a selfie and a sentence or two with why we must restore the Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit! For more information, check back for our social media guide coming soon!

Leave a Reply