How is a woman at home with no help supposed to go to the dentist? What is she supposed to do if the twice a year checkups, which she probably can’t manage, reveal serious problems requiring sedation and recovery?
Dental health is one of the many health areas SAHMs suffer neglect in, but it’s one of the worst because it’s so much more difficult to get dental care done. A checkup dragging a passel of younguns along can more or less be managed. But it doesn’t work that way when you have to have cavities filled or cleaning done or major dental surgery like a root canal performed.
And just as it’s super difficult for the average SAHM to get someone to watch her kids so she can get to the doctor, it’s even more so when she needs her teeth checked out. Despite the fact that rotting teeth can lead to blood poisoning and death at the extreme end and general chronic pain and cascading health problems at the more typical end, nobody seems concerned about the housewife’s head being all in working order. There’s also increased dental problems with children, for some of the same logistical reasons.
The widespread American acceptance of chaos in the domestic sphere as normal makes the necessary routines for maintaining dental health very difficult to keep up or set up. In one of the many cruel ironies of modernity, this is one reason many women have fewer children and work outside the home. The forced routines for public school and jobs are what they rely on to set up these habits, with limited but real success. Meanwhile the housewife, who’s “just home all day” struggles with the basics because without any other adults around, everything is a near-emergency and important things like dental health fall right by the wayside.
There’s also the financial aspect. Even with very good health insurance or a socialized system of health care access, dental care is usually out of pocket. So it’s an expense that is very important and extremely expensive to blow off, but given how expensive it is to be frugal, this can be one more thing on the list of unaffordables even for those SAHMs in higher income brackets.