Many of us take our smiles for granted. Mary Otto, author of Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality and the Struggle for Oral Health in America, claims that ⅓ of low-income Americans refuse to smile because they are embarrassed by their teeth. Our teeth, whether we realize it or not, have become symbols of status. Have you ever looked at a photo of a celebrity and admired their teeth? Beautiful, white, straight teeth definitely come with a cost, and many underprivileged people find it too expensive.
Dr. Cheryl Watson-Lowry, an inner-city Chicago dentist, says that because people do not have proper dental care, they let their dental problems escalate to the point of sending themselves to the Emergency Room. A study in 2012 found that people went to the Emergency Room for dental pain every 15 seconds, costing taxpayers at the time $750 per visit. Watson-Lowry adds that Emergency Rooms cannot provide the proper care for dental work. She hopes the Dental Health Care Act of 2017 will generate community dental health coordinators so those who need dental care can get it.
- Dr. Kurt Newman, President and CEO, Children’s National Health System and author, Healing Children: A Surgeon’s Stories from the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine