When the Dentist Won’t See You

Share:

June 25, 2012

Millions of Americans are ending up in the emergency room instead of the dentist’s chair when they have problems with their teeth — sometimes even when they have insurance.

In our film Dollars and Dentists, which airs tomorrow night, we follow five-year-old Trinity Way and her grandmother Pamela, as they seek help for Trinity’s teeth in a Florida emergency room.

When we first meet the family, Trinity is in severe pain. Her teeth are so infected that the side of her cheek burns warm to the touch. For two years, her grandmother has tried to get her care, contacting 10 different dentists for appointments. Trinity is covered by Medicaid — as all children are by law if they don’t have other coverage. But no one would see her.

Medicaid payouts for dentists are fixed state-by-state, and Florida offers one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation. So only 10 percent of Florida’s dentists accept Medicaid, according to Dr. Frank Catalanotto, a pediatric dentist at the hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville, who spoke to FRONTLINE for the film. He says that means that only about 25 percent of Medicaid-eligible children in Florida actually see a dentist.

Find out what happens to Trinity — and why so many other children end up like her — in the clip above. Then tune in to watch our full film tomorrow on television (check listings here) or online right here, starting at 10 p.m. EST.

 


Sarah Childress

Sarah Childress, Series Senior Editor, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@sarah_childress

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

Tampa Lead Factory Faces $518,000 Fine for Environmental Violations
The proposed penalty would be the largest in the history of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission.
January 22, 2022
Elizabeth Williamson
January 18, 2022
THE PEGASUS PROJECT Live Blog: Major Stories from Partners
A curated and regularly updated list of news articles from our partners in “The Pegasus Project,” a collaborative investigation among 17 journalism outlets around the world.
January 12, 2022