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    Profits Placed Before the Youngest of Patients

    While any report that tells the story of an adult being subjected to unnecessary dental procedures is troubling, reports that tell the stories of young children going through a similar situation are even more startling. A parent usually takes their child to the dentist believing that the dentist will help their child feel better and maintain optimum dental health. What some stories have shown is that parents leave the office with a child that has been traumatized both emotionally and physically.

    An investigative report was done on a chain of dental offices known as Smile Smiles which is located in the US. What the reporter uncovered was a history of dentists conducting themselves unprofessionally and unethically, as they treated the youngest of patients. A former employee of the chain let the reporter know what was occurring behind closed doors in the dental offices, so the journalist began to search for more information to substantiate the claims of the former employee. After finding other employees who were willing to speak about what was occurring in the offices, the reporter was slowly able to discover the horror of what the children were being subjected too.

    "McDaniel agreed to speak on camera and, in the course of the interview, she described how some children, isolated from their parents, would sweat profusely. Sometimes they threw up. If that happened, the dental assistants were taught to flip them over on the papoose board, suction out their mouths, and flip them back so the dentist could continue working. Sometimes the children wet their pants. Hair dryers were kept handy to dry kids off before sending them back out to their parents. McDaniel explained that the rooms had radios blasting to obscure the sound of screams." (Baskin)

    When the reporter was given the opportunity to visit one of the clinic's grand openings, the cameras started rolling. They were able to tape disturbing images, some that they were not even sure could be shown on TV. They discovered children who were not adequately shielded from X-rays, and others that were crying while strapped to papoose boards. One child even had his nose pinched shut to force him to open his mouth. The dentist seemed to brag about how they would do six or more baby root canals on one child in one sitting.

    Why did these dentists conduct themselves in this manner? What could lead to a dentist subjecting young children to sometimes unnecessary and painful procedures? The dentists at the Small Smiles clinic were simply placing profits before their patients, as they worked to get bonuses and compete in corporate contests. Those with the highest rates of baby root canals would receive top dollar from Medicaid reimbursements and trophies from corporate.

    The investigative unit was shut down a year later, due to the station believing it was a "luxury" and not something they could afford. Yet this investigation led to the closure of one clinic and the Small Smiles company having to address the way they were handling patients. Investigations like this help show what is happening behind closed doors, and the disturbing reality that many dentists are no longer concerned with their patient's well-being, even if that patient is a young child.

    What can parents do if their children need to see the dentist? The first step is for parents to learn how to cure tooth decay and cavities naturally. Many procedures that are performed routinely are unnecessary and could be avoided, if the type of diet a person consumes is changed. It is important for children to receive nutrient-rich whole foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins, and they should avoid consuming processed or sweet foods, such as fruit juices or white flour. Tooth decay and cavities in children are troubling and upsetting for both the child and the parent, but the teeth are able to remineralize and repair themselves naturally in many cases.

    Although, there may be some situations when a parent needs to take their child to the dentist. In these cases, it is important for parents to look for a holistic or minimally invasive dentist. A good dentist will make the child feel comfortable, offer less invasive treatment options, and will thoroughly explain what each procedure will entail. If a dentist does not make you or your child feel comfortable and simply tries to pressure you into invasive procedures, then leave and find another dentist who is less concerned over monetary gain and more interested in actually helping patients.



    Baskin, Roberta. "Revealing How Dentists Profit By Abusing Children." Nieman Reports: Harvard. Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, 2009. Web. 8 Jan 2012. < >.

    Photo Credit: Dave Buchwald from Wikimedia Commons


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