The boogeyman. Monsters under the bed. The dark.
For many years, the dentist was included in this list of irrational childhood fears. However, recent changes in the dental industry have given credence to this mistrust, as many children have been subjected to procedures they don’t need on teeth that aren’t damaged.
Over the past ten years, instances of corporate dental malpractice and fraud have skyrocketed. This surge is the product two primary factors. First, the federal government has drastically increased dental services available to children on Medicaid. This, in turn, has led to a surge in Medicaid claims that far exceeds the oversight capacity of federal agencies. Second, corporations and private equity groups have begun investing in dental chains. With shareholders to satisfy, these corporate dental chains have taken a profit-first approach to dental care.
In concert, these forces have created a landscape in which patients—especially children—are subject to unnecessary dental procedures. For example, Small Smiles Dental Centers, a corporate dentistry chain focused on serving children of low-income families, has paid the federal government millions of dollars in fines for their fraudulent practices. This total includes one $24 million dollar fine stemming from allegations that it billed state Medicaid programs for unnecessary procedures performed on children insured by Medicaid.
Beyond unnecessary, many corporate dental chains engage in abhorrently unsafe practices. This includes physically restraining children on an apparatus called a “papoose board,” while parents are left to sit in the waiting room. The use of such restraints has even been linked to the death of several young children. In response, parents across have begun initiating lawsuits in an effort to hold corporate dental chains liable for the pain and suffering inflicted on their children.
If your child has been victimized by such practices, it is important that you contact a qualified attorney. They will be able to help you recover damages for any pain and suffering to which your child may have been subjected, as well as compensation for related medical expenses.