US dental care in trouble

This video from the USA is called FRONTLINE | Preview “Dollars and Dentists” | PBS.

By Gary Joad in the USA:

Dental care in America: A study in austerity, neglect and profiteering

1 September 2012

A Frontline production on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) aired in June documented the painful and ill experiences of millions of working class families and their children, the disabled and poor, and retired persons as they seek dental care in the United States.

In the opening scene of “Dollars and Dentists,” hundreds of people with jaw and tooth pain form long lines in the early morning freezing rain of southern Virginia, seeking relief from a volunteer dental clinic. Most patients declare on camera that they are often too sick and sore to eat, and that they are compelled to live with pain every hour of their lives.

As the clinic’s Dr. Terry Dickenson states at the program’s beginning, “Gas, food, and rent compete with dental care for the dollars these persons have.”

Washington, D.C. resident Vanessa Nations, 31, reported that she had been significantly ill with dental and gum infections for many years, until her problems became so severe that she needed all her teeth extracted. She commented, “I feel like little bits of poison are killing me.”

She could not eat sufficiently, and therefore could not maintain a normal weight. Virtually all her teeth were chipped, broken off, and discolored. Poignantly, she brought a smiling teenage photo of herself to show the dentists how she wanted to look again, as they planned the removal of her ruined teeth and the manufacture of her dentures.

In another segment, five-year-old Trinity Way and her grandmother were filmed as they sat in a University of Florida dental clinic. Trinity’s grandmother pointed to the child’s swelled and warm jaw, and reported that they had to wait two months for an appointment.

The university dentists at Gainesville explained that the child’s problems had become too severe and numerous to be treated normally in the clinic. The delay in her care meant that she must undergo oral surgery in an operating room under general anesthesia. The university’s chief of dentistry noted that Trinity’s problems were entirely preventable. He pointed out that, due to the neglect of children’s dental needs in Florida, 1,200 youngsters a year must be treated in operating rooms with the added risk of general anesthesia.

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