The Luxury of Dental Health in Third World America

Dental Health

Press TV (2017)

This documentary highlights the millions of Americans unable to access dental care owing to the prohibitive cost. With a routine dental checkups costing a week’s salary on average, healthy teeth have become an unaffordable luxury in the US.

The US is the only developed country that refuses  to provide basic health care for all its residents. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2010, poor Americans unable to access medical services experienced an average of 45,000 preventable deaths annually.

Total preventable deaths dropped initially (to 18,000) with the enactment of Obamacare. Since then skyrocketing premiums – coupled with Trump’s repeal of premium subsidies – have caused a rebound in the number of uninsured Americans.

California used to provide free dental services for indigent residents under the state Medicaid program. However this was discontinued in 2009. Although indigent children are still theoretically eligible to receive DentiCal services, reimbursement rates are so low only a handful of Los Angeles dentists participate in the program.

The film focuses on nongovernmental efforts to improve dental health in the Los Angeles Hispanic community. Ironically dental health deteriorates in Mexicans after they immigrate to the US – and move from rural areas to inner cities lacking access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Thus an essential component of the University of Southern California (USC) dental health outreach program involves a campaign to increase urban gardens and nutrition education in schools.

The USC Ostrow School of Dentistry also recruits volunteer dentists to run free dental clinics for children, the unemployed, the uninsured and the elderly (of all ethnicities).

In addition to to the USC program, the Los Angeles Hispanic Dental Association has established a fund to support Spanish-speaking students in pursuing dental degrees and foreign-trained Hispanic dentists in jumping the bureaucratic hurdles of obtaining a US work permit .

 

5 thoughts on “The Luxury of Dental Health in Third World America

  1. This is a national disgrace! Where is the UN in calling this a humanitarian crisis? Because it is! But never mind. The UN does nothing but declare something a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and then moves on.

    I swear to god that I hate to look into most peoples’ mouths because of what I will see. And from the Midwest to the East Coast, it is the same; rotten teeth, missing teeth, chronic gum issues and even death from infections.

    It is a sin and a shame that people must die because they lack dental coverage. And as has been noted in this article, dental coverage is expensive as hell! I pay dearly for my dental coverage and can get nothing done about the serious issues I have. And as much as I go on and on about the mouths of missing teeth I see, I have quite the opposite problem. I have more teeth than I should have, down in my jaw and even with having dental coverage, no one will pull them. The claim is that my jaw will be broken, I will be numb in those areas for the rest of my natural life, they will have to remove the teeth that are above the ones in my jaw and that I will be drooling, as well. So, I must put up with infected teeth in my jaw, and it hurts like hell, but the only thing I’m given are antibiotics, no pain medication. And I don’t know what I am going to do when the antibiotics no longer work. That is why I had to purchase dental insurance because I have to keep my mouth in as good a shape as I can or “woe is me!”

    This particular article, unfortunately, resonates with me and I can only sympathize mightily with what people are dealing with because they cannot afford dental insurance. Even children have died due to severe dental problems and obviously, who the hell cares?

    The ‘free clinic’ in my area is so backed up, there is a year’s wait to see a dentist. And people who worked good jobs and who are retired are waiting their turn to see a dentist at the ‘free clinic’. Many have given up and their gums are swollen and their teeth have fallen out.

    There are several restaurants here who employ people who are basically enough to turn you off your food. All across town, I meet people who have one black tooth hanging on, that’s one black tooth! The other day, I went to a restaurant with a friend of mine and I could not believe that she actually placed an order for food. The cashier had one horribly blackened tooth in her mouth and she was standing over the food as it was placed in its wrappings and talking the entire time. There is no way in hell that I would have eaten that. I have sat across from people at the doctor’s office who have had the same; one blackened tooth still hanging on or seriously swollen gums, gums so swollen they are almost covering their blackened teeth. Why aren’t these people’s doctors making some noise about this problem? Because your mouth is the gateway to your body and what impact is all of those mouth issues having on the body? You cannot cure the body without curing the mouth. If bacteria from the mouth is continuously filtering through the body, that is going to cause issues. How can this not be understood? For the love of !!!!

    I have attended public meetings about health care in America and when the Director of Public Health goes on and on about how we need to eat right and exercise, I then stand up and I always ask the question, “But why is it that you don’t speak out about the fact that people need good dental hygiene and that without it, the body is not going to be healthy especially since you know that most people are not covered by any dental insurance?” The answer is always a ‘stunned silence’.

    Thank you for posting this one, Dr. Bramhall, for all the good it will do!

  2. All I can do in response to your comment, Shelby, is to sign in despair. Because all of it is sadly and utterly true. The message that came across loud and clear for me when I watched this documentary is that we all have to get over this self-delusion that government is there to serve us – because it’s not. Government does shit for us. They have never been there to serve black people or women or working people in general. They gouge us for tax money, which they use for endless wars and to line billionaires pocket and don’t provide health care, dental care or even reliable infrastructure. Since they started this insane war on terror, they don’t even provide security.

    If people want these things done, they’re going to have to do it for themselves – like the Hispanic community did in LA. And ultimately they’re going to need to get rid of the government and capitalism itself because they both turn our lives into a living misery.

  3. Reblogged this on shelbycourtland and commented:
    This is why your mouth is a disaster area. This is why those in your family have swollen gums and blackened or missing teeth. Have you no idea how important good oral hygiene is and the fact that hardly anyone in America is covered by dental insurance. Even Medicaid is getting out of the business of dental coverage for children, who we all know, need good oral hygiene.

    And what Dr. Bramhall says is so very true!

    ” We all have to get over this self-delusion that government is there to serve us – because it’s not. Government does shit for us. They have never been there to serve black people or women or working people in general. They gouge us for tax money, which they use for endless wars and to line billionaires pocket and don’t provide health care, dental care or even reliable infrastructure. Since they started this insane war on terror, they don’t even provide security.” – Dr. Bramhall

    • Thanks for reblogging, Shelby. As you can tell, this is a subject dear to my heart. Although New Zealand supposedly has a national health system, it doesn’t include dental care, which really pisses me off.

      • Dr. Bramhall, this subject, as you know, is dear to my heart, as well. And it was the least I could do and believe me, I am just as pissed off as you are to know that even New Zealand refuses to include dental care in their national health system. Have they no shame? Because once again, you cannot keep the body healthy if you don’t have a healthy mouth. It is not rocket science and these governments act as though it is. SIGH!

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