Live Chat 2:30 p.m. ET: Inside America’s Dental Care Crisis

June 26, 2012

More than 100 million Americans can’t afford a visit to the dentist, resulting in preventable diseases, bankruptcy and sometimes even death.

Poor children are especially at risk — many dentists won’t see children on Medicaid because there’s no profit margin. One in four children have untreated tooth decay, now the most common chronic illness among school-aged children.

In Dollars and Dentists, FRONTLINE and The Center for Public Integrity reveal the shocking consequences of a ruptured dental care system, and investigate how a new breed of corporate dental chains — like Kool Smiles and Aspen Dental — are filling the gaps.

But why is dental care out of reach for so many to begin with? Is dentistry considered less important than other forms of health care? Why? What might be done to improve the accessibility of dental care in America?

We’ve asked FRONTLINE correspondent Miles O’Brien, FRONTLINE producer Jill Rosenbaum and CPI reporter David Heath to join us to discuss these questions, and take yours.

They’ll be joined by guest questioner Mary Otto, a former reporter for The Washington Post, where she reported extensively on America’s dental care crisis. Her 2007 story on 12-year-old Deamonte Driver — a Maryland child covered by Medicaid who died from a dental infection — prompted congressional hearings, spurred reform of Maryland’s Medicaid dental system and raised awareness about the lack of dental access for children on Medicaid across the country.

Otto is the oral health topic leader for the Association of Health Care Journalists and is a contributing writer at the oral health forum She is also editor-in-chief of Street Sense, a Washington D.C. newspaper focused on the issues of homelessness and poverty in the city.

We’d like to thank WebMD for partnering with us on the chat.

You can leave a question in the chat window below, and come by at 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 27 to join the live discussion.

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