Some local kids go to Lincoln for dental insurance coverage
Lincoln is a long way to go for a dentist appointment.
However, some Truckee families have made the 180-mile round-trip to visit Dr. Chester Hsu at Silver Star Dental Care.
Truckee State Preschool Director Susan Bruno said she looked long and hard for a dentist for newborns to 5 year olds in low-income families with state-assisted dental insurance, like Delta Dental or DentiCal.
“It’s a governmental nightmare,” Bruno said of the process dentists must go through to offer care to families with state-assisted insurance.
There are local dentists who provide service to those with Delta Dental and DentiCal, but Bruno said for children younger than 5, who have never been to the dentist, the clinical feel of a dentist’s office can be frightening. She said children find comfort in Hsu’s office – a remodeled Victorian home with games in the waiting room and murals on the walls.
“It has been six years of hard work to find an officer like theirs,” Bruno said of her search for a dentist for children younger than 5. “They are a treasure for my families.”
Hsu also offers what Bruno calls “happy juice,” or oral sedation, for his patients.
“Generally, parents have been very pleased with Dr. Hsu’s office,” she said.
Hsu was practicing in Sacramento before he opened Silver Star one year ago. He noticed a lot of patients were coming from the foothills
“Some parents brought kids in at 5 years old for the first time,” said Hsu, who is a general dentist but chooses to work on children. “Some of them had three to four cavities on each tooth.”
Hsu said most dentists don’t accept DentiCal or Delta Dental is because the insurance providers reimburse the dentists a lot less money – sometimes one-third of what it costs to treat the patient.
“It’s a state program, so there’s more hassle,” Hsu said.
It’s also a nationwide problem. According to the Dental Health Foundation, low-income children miss nearly 12 times as many school days due to dental problems as higher-income children.
“I hope to be able to serve that population (low income) as long as I can,” Hsu said. “I just feel so bad that these children aren’t getting the care they need.”