March 24, 2010
A woman was recently convicted of second-degree criminal mistreatment for not seeking dental care for her 10-year-old son, and how health-care reform is changing the rules of oral health.
A Washington woman was convicted on Feb. 11 of second-degree criminal mistreatment for not seeking dental care for her 10-year-old son. In the courts documents, a doctor compared the pain of the dental abscess in the woman’s son to “being shot with a nail gun.” Read more about the verdict here.The silver lining to this story, unlike Deamonte Driver back in 2007, was that the son received the care he needed before the infection took his life.Overhaul bill
The world of oral health is changing at an extraordinary pace. Case in point — the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 3590. The old rules no longer apply, and new rules are being written and rewritten all the time.One of my colleagues recently used the following quote at our NHDHA state continuing education meeting; “If you are not at the table, then you are on the menu!” The overall changes may seem unsettling, yet oral health is finally at the table. And that is worth celebrating! The following are some highlights provided by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association so our readers may better understand the oral health initiatives within the bill. • Pediatric dental benefit: The bill requires a dental benefit be included as part of the essential health benefits package for all eligible children (through age 21) who receive coverage through the newly-created state-based health insurance exchanges. The bill does not include an adult dental benefit.• Contracting with stand-alone dental plans: The bill would allow stand-alone dental plans to operate as part of the new state-based health insurance exchanges to meet pediatric dental benefit requirements. The provision accommodates the way the current system is structured in that most medical plans do not include dental benefits and most dental insurance plans are offered separately from medical plans.• Alternative dental health care provider demonstration project grants: The bill would allocate up to $60 million for the education and demonstration of alternative dental health care providers, including dental hygiene and advanced practice dental hygiene workforce models.• Oral health workforce development: The bill includes a section that would establish programs and allocate federal monies to expand and develop the dental workforce. The provisions recognize dental hygienists as primary oral health providers through the inclusion of dental hygienists, dental hygiene students, and dental hygiene education programs as eligible entities for funds.• Oral health programs in school-based clinics: The bill would establish a grant program for school-based health clinics, including those that offer oral health services.• Oral health infrastructure and surveillance: The bill would establish a number of oral health education and surveillance programs to improve the public’s understanding of the importance of oral health, and collect data on access to oral health services.You can view more information at the Children’s Oral Health Project Web site at