Blog Home

Medical Teams Blog: Stories of boldly breaking barriers to health

Sign up to receive the blog directly to your email inbox

A foster mom's wish: A pain-free Christmas

by Tyler Graf | Dec 21, 2015

Hot or cold, crunchy or sweet, what should be pleasure-filled bites of Theresa's favorite foods are instead painful reminders of what she doesn't have. And once the pain starts, it doesn't stop.

Like thousands of Oregonians, Theresa lacks access to dental care. She lives in semi-rural Oregon -- an unincorporated area called Eagle Creek, roughly 30 miles east of Portland -- where she fosters youth with disabilities. Good insurance, which would adequately cover her dental expenses, is too costly, Theresa says, and it's difficult to find a dentist who will accept what coverage she can cobble together. 

She reckons it's been years since she last saw a dentist, and now she's feeling a sharp, piercing pain in her mouth. The pain is exacerbated when Theresa eats. Once it starts, the throbbing gains momentum, reaching unbearable levels. Often, Theresa has trouble sleeping because of the pain, and she has to take medication so she can doze off.

She needs a dentist to extract a badly decayed tooth.

Mobile Dental, Dec. 2015 - Keller (1)
Theresa, a patient of the Mobile Dental Program, smiles as she awaits treatment earlier in the month outside Providence Medical Center in Portland, Ore. 

"It's making me sick," she says, seated in a chair at a Mobile Dental Clinic at Providence Medical Center in Portland, Ore. 

The pain makes it difficult for Theresa to concentrate, to focus on her foster children. And when she eats, each bite is taken with thoughtful care, a cautious chomp that could result in long-lasting discomfort. 

But because of your powerful donations, Theresa has access to compassionate volunteer dental professionals. Your gifts to the Mobile Dental Program are making a lasting impact not just in Theresa's life, but the lives of those around her.

And her wish is such a simple one. "I just hope it won't be painful anymore," Theresa said, cracking a smile. 

As Theresa waited for the dental hygienist to start her work, Theresa looked around the clinic. "It's everything having this resource," she said.

As Theresa exited the clinic, a smile plastered on her face despite a mouth packed with gauze, the pain-causing tooth removed, Theresa said she felt amazing. So amazing, in fact, she was going to spend the rest of the day Christmas shopping.

After all, she has a couple of foster kids at home expecting presents..

Thank you again for your support of MTI's Mobile Dental Program, which directly serves more than 20,000 patients each year in Oregon and Washington. Your donations have a profound, positive effect on people who would otherwise not have access to dental care -- considered the hidden health care crisis in America.