Wednesday, February 28, 2007

For Want of a Dentist

WaPo reported Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday. A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him. If his mother had been insured. If his family had not lost its Medicaid. If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find. If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

This sounds terrible, and is clearly an attempt by WaPo to push for universal medical care, including dental care, but let us look at the rest of the article and see the discrepancies in it.
By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died. Deamonte's death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate over universal health coverage: dental care. Some poor children have no dental coverage at all. Others travel three hours to find a dentist willing to take Medicaid patients and accept the incumbent paperwork..... About 900 of the state's 5,500 dentists accept Medicaid patients,
If 900 of the state's 5,500 dentists accept Medicaid, then that is almost 20%. If someone has to travel three hours to find a Medicaid dentist, how far do they have to travel to find any dentist? Perhaps they just live way in the boonies without any dentists available.
said Arthur Fridley, last year's president of the Maryland State Dental Association. Referring patients to specialists can be particularly difficult..... When Deamonte got sick, his mother had not realized that his tooth had been bothering him.
So even if he had had dental care, she would not have taken him because she did not know it was hurting.
Instead, she was focusing on his younger brother, 10-year-old DaShawn, who "complains about his teeth all the time," she said.
Help the child that complains, and ignore the one in pain that is not complaining.
... By September, several of DaShawn's teeth had become abscessed. Driver began making calls about the boy's coverage but grew frustrated.... On Oct. 5, DaShawn saw Arthur Fridley, who cleaned the boy's teeth, took an X-ray and referred him to an oral surgeon.
I have had teeth pulled and even root canal work done, but by my normal dentist.
But the surgeon could not see him until Nov. 21, and that would be only for a consultation. Driver said she learned that DaShawn would need six teeth extracted and made an appointment for the earliest date available: Jan. 16.

But she had to cancel after learning Jan. 8 that the children had lost their Medicaid coverage a month earlier. She suspects that the paperwork to confirm their eligibility was mailed to the shelter in Adelphi, where they no longer live.
Is it the government's fault that she moved and failed to leave a change of address or notify the government where she now lived?

3 comments:

nyscof said...

The sad thing is that most poor people in America have insurance - Medicaid. But American dentists refuse to treat people with Medicaid or other low reimbursing government subsidized insurance.

It's a mystery to me that dental schools and dental education can be government subsidized and the government doesn't require dentists to treat a certain number of low-income people a year. The "freedom of choice" argument just doesn't work here because organized dentistry forces fluoridation into people and says "freedom of choice" doesn't count when you need to help the poor.

Most dentists also won't work and/or live in rural or low-income inner cities and leave many people without dental care.

The problem is that organized dentistry lobbies against any dental or healthcare group that tries to fill the void lest it infringe on their lucrative monopoly.

Most dentists make more money than most physicians while working fewer days and fewer hours doing mostly cosmetic treatment and offering spa therapy.

When Dental Health Aide Therapists (DHATs) started drilling, filling and pulling teeth in rural Alaska which has been unable for decades to attract dentists, the American Dental Association and the Alaska Dental Society sued them.
DHATs have worked for decades in other countries as efficiently and more cheaply than dentists and are willing to work where dentists won't

Instead of actually treating America's low-income, dentists organize to throw more fluoride chemicals into our bodies via water fluoridation because "they care so much."
Or they apply fluoride varnish with an extremely toxic 22,600 ppm fluoride.

Fluoride is more toxic than lead, While we are getting the lead out, dentists force more fluoride into us by advocating and lobbying for water fluoridation incessantly.

However, there is no evidence that any American is or ever was fluoride deficient; but loads of data showing Americans are dentist deficient.

Deamonte Driver's water supply was fluoridated and I doubt he was drinking fluoride-free bottled water as dentists claim when tooth decay rates climb as they are begining to do despite 60 years of water fluoridation.

The millions of dollars spent on fluoridation throughout the country could be better spent actually treating inevitable cavities.


For more info

Fluoridation 101
http://www.orgsites.com/ny/nyscof

Fluoridation News Releases
http://tinyurl.com/6kqtu

Tooth Decay Crises in Fluoridated Areas
http://www.fluoridenews.blogspot.com/

Fluoride Action Network http://www.FluorideAction.Net

Fluoride Journal http://www.FluorideResearch.Org

Don Singleton said...

It's a mystery to me that dental schools and dental education can be government subsidized and the government doesn't require dentists to treat a certain number of low-income people a year.

Maybe the fact that we are a capitalist nation, not a communist one has something to do with it

Most dentists also won't work and/or live in rural or low-income inner cities and leave many people without dental care.

Rural areas have problems getting doctors to serve as well.

When Dental Health Aide Therapists (DHATs) started drilling, filling and pulling teeth in rural Alaska which has been unable for decades to attract dentists, the American Dental Association and the Alaska Dental Society sued them.

A DHAT candidate needs only a high school diploma to qualify for training.
... need only possess “no less than sixth grade math and reading skills,”... By comparison, dentists, generally after earning a bachelor’s degree, spend a minimum of four years in graduate-level training in dental school, and many dentists then continue on for specialty training.


DHATs have worked for decades in other countries as efficiently and more cheaply than dentists and are willing to work where dentists won't

Other countries don't have the same education and training requirements we do.

Class factotum said...

Just kind of mother lets her kid get to the point where he has SIX ROTTEN TEETH?

Don't blame this one on the health care system.

If my kids were about to lose their teeth, I'd plant my butt in a dentist's office and refuse to leave until he'd treated them and worry about paying later.