So lately, I’ve had teeth on my mind. (So does Demi Moore apparently.) No surprise considering I’m getting my wisdom teeth taken out in June. (Ouch!) Anyways, so I came across the story of 12-year old Deamonte Driver, a Maryland boy who died from an abcessed tooth. Preventative care (at an estimated $80) could’ve saved him. His family didn’t have access to those kinds of funds, or the appropriate care. He had two operations. Spend six weeks in the hospital. He died.
Horrific. Read the full story here. Oh yeah, and book your dentist appointment. Because an aching tooth cannot be ignored. Trust me, I’m the master example of what happens when you ignore a tooth. By my most conservative estimate, I will be spending $5000 on a tooth that I could’ve saved with a $50 filling. Eh, no dental insurance. I got lazy. Serves me right. Sigh.
But if you’re interested in dental insurance and policy regarding access to health insurance, be sure to read this article by Malcolm Gladwell (<3). Called “The Moral-Hazard Myth,” Gladwell’s article showcases the plight of uninsured Americans. Read it.
Here’s a great excerpt:
“People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury. It isn’t, of course. The loss of teeth makes eating fresh fruits and vegetables difficult, and a diet heavy in soft, processed foods exacerbates more serious health problems, like diabetes. The pain of tooth decay leads many people to use alcohol as a salve. And those struggling to get ahead in the job market quickly find that the unsightliness of bad teeth, and the self-consciousness that results, can become a major barrier. If your teeth are bad, you’re not going to get a job as a receptionist, say, or a cashier. You’re going to be put in the back somewhere, far from the public eye. What Loretta, Gina, and Daniel understand, the two authors tell us, is that bad teeth have come to be seen as a marker of “poor parenting, low educational achievement and slow or faulty intellectual development.” They are an outward marker of caste. “Almost every time we asked interviewees what their first priority would be if the president established universal health coverage tomorrow,” Sered and Fernandopulle write, “the immediate answer was ‘my teeth.’ ”’
I admit it. I judge people with bad teeth. I have terrible teeth. You can’t tell, because they’re all straight and pearly white. But I do. My mom couldn’t afford braces for my brother and I. The little siblings did get some. And yet I can’t stop making assumptions about people and their backgrounds from their teeth. *Guilt.