Dentists: Are they for real?

I have been lucky, blessed with a good set of teeth since childhood. I grew up poor so,  I was not able to eat tons of candies and sweet nothings when I was younger. I always  had  ample serving of  green mangoes fresh from a tree, hard guavas, sugarcane trunks stolen from the field in my barrio, fresh vegetables from our backyard garden.  In short, by eating non-sugary foods, I am able to preserve my teeth.

Very recently, however, my teeth are giving me some trouble. Two years ago, I cracked my tooth (molar) while on a Spain trip. I suffered for a while, but since, I am a Filipino, I am stoic and can handle pain better than others. My threshold for pain is something to be desired.

As soon, as I arrived in the USA, I went straight to the dentist. He was adamant to pull the cracked tooth and wants to refer me to a dental surgeon. I practically pulled his arm to remove my tooth at that time, my rationale, why refer when he can do it himself as he is also a dentist. That is double whammy to my insurance coverage! To make the long story short, he pulled it.

Two months ago, I visited the same dentist for a tooth problem with swollen gums. The hygienist said, still looks good but will need frequent  cleaning and flossing. The dentist thought otherwise, he wants to refer me to a gum specialist for tooth removal and replacement with porcelain worth $ 3,000.00 dollars. The price brought some shock waves to my spine. I composed myself and agreed to go to the specialist, nonetheless, at the back of my mind, I was rebelling!!

So I went to the specialist who took some special Xrays with special gadgets and the like. He placed the result in front of me. I did not tell him which specific tooth was to be removed. Guess what, he went to the xray result back and forth about three times because, he could not tell which is the diseased tooth! I have to literally point out to him which one..obviously the tooth is not that bad. I just kept quiet and went along for the ride.  He said, I need to have that tooth removed so that they can replace it with an implant. A porcelain would cost total of $ 3,000.00. I mentioned, I will think about it and will call him for further orders. He said, I should not wait long because, it will  give me a lot of issues..I should go back to him in 2 months.

That was two months ago, I still have the tooth. True, it gives me minute pain once in a while especially when I do not clean it thoroughly, but on the whole the tooth is still viable. It could still last me until I am 98 years old, as long as I go to the hygienist often.

In this story, only the hygienist was telling the truth. She is only salaried and has no ulterior motive to fleece my insurance coverage, while the two dentists are in connivance to fleece my insurance.

My hubby has very bad dentition. He goes to those dentists so often that he must have already paid for their new office furniture and equipments. As for my diseased tooth, I will just continue using my electric toothbrush with religious flossing so it will last me a lifetime. I do not want to pay $3000.00 dollars for a single porcelain tooth, much less, have a new atificial tooth.

Some dentists will not tell you preventative measures to preserve your teeth. If they do, they will have no more clients.

A Filipino non-profit organization in Jacksonville, Florida


A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

I always enjoy going to nurse practitioner conference annually to quench my thirst for new knowledge, and of course, to see lovely places in America. This time, the venue was in Savannah, Georgia. Would you believe, this is the very first time I came with a buddy? She is a new Adult Nurse Practitioner, still very excited to be counted as a member and still jumping around in the NP arena like a horse newly released from its stable.                                         

It was only last week when I saw a familiar face at  GAPNA (Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurse Association)  conference in Savannah, Georgia. This must be the fourth time that we have brushed  each other’s elbows at different places of medical/nurse practitioner’s conferences. An eerie feeling in Savannah disappeared as soon as I remember her.

Her name is Lolita Massengill, ARNP, clinic Director/President of Legacy of Care Health clinic, Inc., based in Jacksonville, Florida. She is an outstanding, indefatigable profesional who has devoted her life to charity and not for profit clinics for the very poor, disadvantaged and uninsured in her local community. This clinic is run by volunteers, not compensated at all for their time and effort in serving the public. A calling deep seated in their hearts, to give and share  whatever they can to uplift the health care delivery sytem in their local society. It is like something taken out from a book of fantasy, so noble, the little hairs at the back of my neck stand up every time Lolita describes her practice.

Lolita is not just an expert in primary care but also a cheerleader in the development of her staff at Legacy Care. She has developed her staff into independent promoters and speakers, in fact, these volunteers started to be as benign and meek as can be. All of the volunteers, including Lolita are from the Philippines. I presume they have already acculturated in the western world as they have been in the USA forever. I could not remember the exact date Lolita came to the USA. I would think,  maybe in the early 1980’s, or later. I should have paid more attention as to the details of her “Coming to America.”   

                                                                                                                    The patients they serve are diversified and multi-cultural, pretty much like the volunteers themselves. Although, they are all Pinoys ( a street slang for Filipinos), they speak different dialects. They come from different parts of the Philippines, from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the three regions of the Philippines.

It is interesting to note that, Pinoys speak different dialects but we can communicate and understand one dialect, which is Tagalog.  People from any part of the country could at least speak in Tagalog, making it our national language.They all have been united and had come together for a very simple and noble cause : to serve the uninsured. Nonetheless, the purpose of this group is very transparent. It was created to serve the public, the poor, the needy, the people who have nowhere to go medical-wise. For more information go to

I would like to belong to a group like this, to create a change in my local society.  I would want to be counted as a change agent. Where do I start? Lolita is my model, somebody whom I look forward seeing each year, to gather more knowledge as to how to start a charity clinic. Will I be  successful like her? Time will tell. For now, I can only imagine and savor the experiences shared to me by Lolita.