One of the most celebrated provisions of the Affordable Care Act has been mandated coverage for pediatric dental benefits. With the expansion of Medicaid, there has also been a sizable population of newly insured children as well. Unfortunately not all dental providers will accept Medicaid and parents may have few options when choosing a pediatric dentist that accepts Medicaid benefits. Many of the dental clinics that accept Medicaid are corporately owned, rather than privately owned. But just because the child is on Medicaid and the parents may not be able to afford to choose another provider, doesn’t mean that these children deserve sub-par care.
In the December 2013 issue of American Association for Justice’s Trial magazine, an article titled “The Evils of Corporate Dentistry”, brought to light many unfortunate circumstances, including children who were restrained while being treated at a corporate dental chain office. These offices were found to be performing unnecessary and unsafe procedures on the children as well. According to an article from PBS’s website, another corporate dental group was investigated by Medicaid, who found “crowns that didn’t fit, decay left untreated under a crown and nerves left exposed”. See the article here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/health-science-technology/dollars-and-dentists/complaints-about-kids-care-follow-kool-smiles/
Not only were the procedures unnecessary and unsafe, there were an exorbitant number of them being performed, all to increase the clinics’ revenue. Often times the dental groups offered bonuses to the dentists who billed above a certain amount. Some would even fire dentists who weren’t meeting the “production standards.”
So how can parents protect their child? First, they should know that no matter what the dental staff says, the parents are allowed to be with their child through every procedure. They have every right to be near their child in the treatment room, and there are no health guidelines that state otherwise. See http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_Protective.pdf
Second, if they see or feel that a treatment is not in the best interest of their child, they should speak up. Both articles cited examples where parents said they trusted the dentists and the corporate dental chain to care for their children. But if a parent feels something isn’t right, they have the right to stop treatment and seek a second opinion.
Doing some research on the dentist or dental chain doesn’t hurt either. With so much information on the internet these days, it’s worth the extra investigation for the parent to have peace of mind when choosing a pediatric dentist.