Dental hygiene could save your life

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2007

I read the other day about a boy in Maryland who died of a toothache.

According to the Washington Post, the boy’s name was Demonte Driver and he was only 12 years old.

The newspaper reported that Demonte died after enduring two operations and six weeks in the hospital but it was too late, the bacteria from his tooth spread to his brain.

Demonte’s mom, who had no dental insurance, had to chose whether to take her oldest son (who had six rotten teeth) or Demonte, who only had one, to the dentist.

According to the Washington Post his procedure would have cost $80.

It’s a story that is as sickening as it is sad.

It’s disgusting because children in one of the wealthiest, innovative countries in the world can die from something as minor as a toothache simply because they don’t have access to health care or the education about health issues.

A lot of the media that has picked up the story has gone around about whether or not it’s the mother’s fault or the government’s responsibility.

It can be debated back and forth.

In the end both have a responsibility, a mother to her child and a government to its citizens.

The two things that could have prevented this tragedy are better health care and education.

For years, programs like Medicaid, Medicare and insurance companies have short changed people on health care and still are.

With many insurance companies, clients aren’t able to get care for “pre-existing” conditions like cancer.

Medicaid and Medicare often limit the health care that is offered.

In fact, with Medicaid, dental health care is hard to come by. Many individuals have to travel miles to receive treatment from a dentist that takes Medicaid and most of the time they can only get their teeth cleaned.

Perhaps if health care was more accessible to everyone, unnecessary deaths from minor aliments wouldn’t be so common.

While there is always a good fight over whether or not medical care should be made universal or changed some how, no one ever thinks of dental care.

It’s a travesty that dental care isn’t offered as much or seen as just as important as medical care.

Teeth are just like any other part of the body—they need to be taken care of.

Proper dental hygiene can help prevent such health problems as heart disease, infection and oral cancer.

In school, children are taught about the significance of health involving their bodies, but not much time is spent on dental care.

As in with anything else, education should start at home. Children should be taught oral hygiene before they get to school.

Getting children in the habit of brushing their teeth and flossing not only teaches them to take care of themselves, but that routine is one of the many lessons a plants that seed of responsibility in children.

A healthy diet also helps with dental care.

Now days children are lured by sugary foods and other unhealthy food. They often are allowed to eat them with out being taught the nutritious significance of other foods.

Obviously eating sweets lead to cavities and gum disease.

In society we have put so much prominence on material things, violence and entertainment to name a few, that we forget about truly important things like education and health.

Our future depends on it.