Niagara Gazette — “My teeth have been bad for more than 10 years, and they keep getting worse,” he said. “It was embarrassing to go out to meet and talk to people since my teeth were so bad.”
Such social anxiety can force someone to finally go to the dentist, but the fear of what will happen there compels many others to keep postponing work. Niagara Falls Robert Brown, for one, is glad he overcame that apprehension.
Brown moved to Western New York from Brooklyn about eight months ago. The clinic was recommended to him by a local food pantry. The pain of a toothache finally forced him to take action.
In New York City, Brown made the roughly hour-long commute to Manhattan to find dental care. He won’t have such an arduous journey should he need follow-up care in his new home.
“It’s a scary place to go to, to go to the dentist, so if the people there aren’t pleasant, it makes it that much harder to go back to,” he said. “It’s a pleasant place to go to. They make you feel comfortable. It seems like they go out of their way to make you feel welcome.”
Respect is what patients like Brown deserve, Dunn said, and the hope is to continue giving it out indefinitely. But it appears to be something that’s harder to find, as is adequate care. Dunn said many resources are in place to help pediatric dental patients, but those services disappear once patients reach adulthood.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found 12.4 percent of Niagara County adults have no health insurance. And the cost of dental care — for those with and without insurance — is a barrier preventing 83.1 percent of Niagara County adults from going to the dentist, at least as much as they should (two visits per year are recommended).