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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Surgeons couldn’t reverse the damage: A healthcare access parable

While his mother was seeking help for his younger brother whose six decayed teeth were causing him pain, Deamonte Driver had a toothache from a single abscessed tooth. A dental abscess is a collection of infected material, pus, resulting from bacterial infection of the center, or pulp, of the tooth. It often is a complication of tooth decay—an untreated cavity.

Bacteria from the abscess spread to his brain. By then, two operations and more than six weeks of hospitalization could not reverse the damage. Deamonte died at age 12, in early March.

Deamonte’s mother worked at several jobs. Even so, the family had to live in a homeless shelter. In changing addresses, they lost Medicaid coverage, which would have paid for the life-saving treatment. US congressmen discussed his case yesterday in hearings. Perhaps hearing his story will ultimately save other children’s lives.

Advice: Let your kids see you brushing and flossing your teeth—you’re their best role model.

Read another dental story, or read Diana Rossetti’s source story.

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