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Ashley Terry's picture

Many children suffer from poverty and deal with problems daily and don’t speak up. They rely on other people’s voices to tell their story and I am here to bring up my voice and tell my story. In 2008, I was simply a 7-year-old little girl that should have been playing. I should not have had to deal with the health issues that I was dealing with at the time. When I got an abscessed tooth, I didn’t know what that meant or why it hurt so badly at the time. I would complain to my mother all the time and I didn’t know why we couldn’t get it fixed.

      Now that I am older, I realize that the reason it took us so long to get help was the fact that we had moved out of state and by the time we moved back in state, I was over the age of three. The dentist that my little brother and sister went to would not accept new patients over the age of three. To find a provider in the area was extremely difficult and even when we did, very few places would accept state coverage. After weeks, maybe even months of dealing with the pain, the tears, and the agony, while my mother tried to find a dentist who would accept our state dental coverage, we were finally able to go to a dentist to get it fixed. Living in a rural community with absolutely no providers caused us to have to travel 40 minutes to find a dentist that would accept our insurance.

 I was scared because I felt alone. My mother and I went into my appointment, where they would proceed to pull out my abscess tooth. They told my mother that she could not be in the room when I had it pulled and there comes the scariness again. I was terrified because I was in this room with a doctor and sharp objects and no one there to hold my hand and tell me it would all be okay. The dentist told me that they would numb my mouth so I wouldn’t feel the pain, so I felt a little better when she promised me there would be no pain. She proceeded to use a numbing sucker to numb my mouth and I vividly remember how disgusting it tasted. But it was painful anyway. I didn’t know if I could handle it. I was worn out and scared. I never wanted to go to the dentist ever again.

     I believe that my appointment would have been easier if I was in a child-friendly zone with my mother right by my side. It would have also been easier if I would have had any prior contact with the dentist, but that was the first time I had ever been there. I wish it wasn't like this for me or other kids. It isn't fair for young children to have to go through what I went through. I was terrified and I felt alone. I count that experience as one of my most traumatic and scary. All dentists should accept all coverage and all children should be able to receive the care they need. All of these young children ahead of us should be able to play instead of hurt.

  I’m not the only kid who has been through this. Four hundred thousand kids on Medicaid in Washington don’t regularly see a dentist. Our state legislators should pass the Dental Access Bill and help more people get dental care, so kids don’t suffer like I did. If we all speak up, I think we can make a difference. Tell your legislators to authorize dental therapy so more kids don’t go through what I went through:

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