Yes, You Can

Monday June 28, 2021

Our lives are a series of choices. If we feel we don’t have a choice in a particular situation, think again. We usually do have a choice because our actions are based on how we think. How we think is a choice. While not necessarily easy, we can choose to think differently.

I am going to use dental insurance as an example, since this is supposed to be a dental column. Dentists hear all the time, “My insurance only covers ____”, or “My insurance says they don’t cover that”, or “My insurance company says I can only see a dentist on their list”, or “I can’t do that because I don’t have insurance.” The response that most dentists think, but are usually afraid to say is, “Who is in charge of your dental health, you or your insurance company?”

The first thought you may have when you read this is about money. “If my insurance company doesn’t cover it, I guess I can’t do it.” While you may think you cannot “afford” something, it is a choice. There are varying degrees of dental health. Maybe everyone can’t “afford” optimal care; crowns on teeth that need the protection, esthetic enhancements, replacement of missing teeth, etc., but basic dental care to improve your health is available to everyone. If you are committed to better dental health but have not found that to be true, you are not looking in the right place.

The money barrier to getting the care you need evokes emotions. Emotions in and of themselves have no real value; they are neither good nor bad. They are just sirens alerting us to something we should pay attention to. If we learn to listen to them instead of blindly obeying them, they can be very good teachers. If money evokes a negative emotion when it comes to dental care, it is because you know your dental health is important. You need to make the choice for better dental health, and find the place to help you overcome the barrier of money, or anything else that is holding you back.

I am sure you are aware, especially if you have read these columns over the years, that medical insurance and dental insurance are totally different. Both are broken systems, in my opinion. The fact of the matter is, we (who are ultimately responsible for our own health), have to see it like it is now. We can’t “afford” to wait for politicians and insurance bureaucrats to “figure it out.” Dental insurance has continued to get worse since its inception over 40 years ago. What are we waiting for?

I certainly do not have the answers to fix the problem. While we wait for everything to miraculously change, you have the freedom to choose what is best for you. It would be nice if you had dental insurance that allowed you to go to whoever you wanted, and get the things done that you need (or want) without asking permission from the insurance company. Can you wait for the system to change? Regardless of insurance, whatever is holding you back, you can change the way you think about dental health.

I am sure this column produces different “emotions” for different people. I would love to hear your comments so I can address them in another column.

Dr. St. Clair maintains a private dental practice in Rowley and Newburyport dedicated to health-centered family dentistry. He has a special interest in treating sleep apnea and TMJ problems. If there are certain topics you would like to see written about or questions you have please email them to him at

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