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Organizations in Oklahoma are helping provide dental care for Afghan refugees.For the past three weeks, charitable organizations have been providing dental care clinics for Afghan refugees. Funded by the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America, the Oklahoma Dental Foundation has been treating refugees on their Mobiles Smiles unit.Though trying to help, they said it’s only magnified the limits of Soonercare’s dental coverage.”They’re saying, ‘Why do you have to pull my teeth?'” said John Wilguess, executive director of Oklahoma Dental Foundation.Stepping inside the mobile dental unit, Afghan refugees who are in need of emergency care are having to make an incredibly difficult decision to either have their teeth pulled or remain in pain.”Now, anyone who has had a toothache will tell you it’s worse than childbirth. It’s an extreme pain and they have nowhere to go,” said Dr. Mehreen Khan, dentist.Afghan refugees have been receiving dental care from the Oklahoma Dental Foundation but they have been unable to receive the full treatment they need.”If you have Soonercare, an extraction would be covered for free. But a root canal is not covered. Every patient that I’ve seen has had the need for a root canal,” Khan said.Oklahoma Medicaid does not cover root canals for adults over the age of 20. In a partial statement, Soonercare said that policy extends to Afghan refugees.”From a health care provider’s perspective, how can they tell someone with a perfectly fine tooth that they should take it out, if there’s a way of saving that, but for the cost?” Wilguess said.ODF said it all comes down to price.”The standard of care in Oklahoma is not to have the most expensive procedures, but to get as many procedures done as possible for the lowest price possible,” Wilguess said.Dentists said root canals can run up to more than $1,000 versus an extraction that costs less than $100. During the first clinic, each patient received $241 worth of treatment under Soonercare.”We don’t want to take out teeth we can save, we don’t want it to be dictated by what’s covered or not. We want to make the right treatment decision health care-wise,” Khan said.They are hoping Soonercare finds a way to increase the budget, but until then, refugees are relying on dentists to work for free.”Ideally, we just need more dentists to get on board and just open up their hearts and just help as many patients as we can,” Khan said.

Organizations in Oklahoma are helping provide dental care for Afghan refugees.

For the past three weeks, charitable organizations have been providing dental care clinics for Afghan refugees. Funded by the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America, the Oklahoma Dental Foundation has been treating refugees on their Mobiles Smiles unit.

Though trying to help, they said it’s only magnified the limits of Soonercare’s dental coverage.

“They’re saying, ‘Why do you have to pull my teeth?'” said John Wilguess, executive director of Oklahoma Dental Foundation.

Stepping inside the mobile dental unit, Afghan refugees who are in need of emergency care are having to make an incredibly difficult decision to either have their teeth pulled or remain in pain.

“Now, anyone who has had a toothache will tell you it’s worse than childbirth. It’s an extreme pain and they have nowhere to go,” said Dr. Mehreen Khan, dentist.

Afghan refugees have been receiving dental care from the Oklahoma Dental Foundation but they have been unable to receive the full treatment they need.

“If you have Soonercare, an extraction would be covered for free. But a root canal is not covered. Every patient that I’ve seen has had the need for a root canal,” Khan said.

Oklahoma Medicaid does not cover root canals for adults over the age of 20. In a partial statement, Soonercare said that policy extends to Afghan refugees.

“From a health care provider’s perspective, how can they tell someone with a perfectly fine tooth that they should take it out, if there’s a way of saving that, but for the cost?” Wilguess said.

ODF said it all comes down to price.

“The standard of care in Oklahoma is not to have the most expensive procedures, but to get as many procedures done as possible for the lowest price possible,” Wilguess said.

Dentists said root canals can run up to more than $1,000 versus an extraction that costs less than $100. During the first clinic, each patient received $241 worth of treatment under Soonercare.

“We don’t want to take out teeth we can save, we don’t want it to be dictated by what’s covered or not. We want to make the right treatment decision health care-wise,” Khan said.

They are hoping Soonercare finds a way to increase the budget, but until then, refugees are relying on dentists to work for free.

“Ideally, we just need more dentists to get on board and just open up their hearts and just help as many patients as we can,” Khan said.

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