Yes, I know, I post things from the Washington Post often… it’s the only newspaper I have time to glance at, by virtue of its being under my nose at the office during coffee breaks. But I was horrified to read of a young boy who died of a toothache — For Want of A Dentist by Mary Otto. Yes. That’s right. He had a rotting tooth, couldn’t get it pulled, and by the time his family could get him to a surgeon, the bacteria had spread to his brain.
Deamonte Driver was just 12 years old. Doctors operated on his brain, but after six weeks of treatment, the boy died.
Poor children are more than twice as likely to have cavities as their more affluent peers, research shows, but far less likely to get treatment.
Serious and costly medical consequences are “not uncommon,” said Norman Tinanoff, chief of pediatric dentistry at the University of Maryland Dental School in Baltimore. For instance, Deamonte’s bill for two weeks at Children’s alone was expected to be between $200,000 and $250,000.
Isn’t this just… insane? Have you ever had a cavity? Two of my wisdom teeth turned nasty and I couldn’t stand it. It took me years to find the money to get them extracted, and finally had them done in a foreign country where it cost me a few hundred dollars, not an arm and a leg like it would here. Consider, too, that less affluent children are much more likely to get cavities. Why does a child have to DIE before we start to move the powers that be to offer affordable, simple health care to our most vulnerable citizens?
Contrast, then, this article of the death of a child for want of an $80 tooth extraction with another article, below the fold, about a 15 year old kid who is trying to figure out how to make energy out of… sludge. Teen Harnesses the Power of Waste. Here’s a kid who has had all the basic breaks in life, and look how he’s taken what he’s been given and run with it. He hasn’t had to worry about a toothache. I wonder who Deamonte could have become, if poverty hadn’t killed him?