American Dental Association Statement on the Death of Deamonte Driver

Mar 02, 2007, 00:00 ET from American Dental Association

    CHICAGO, March 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being
 issued by the American Dental Association:
     We are deeply saddened at the apparently avoidable death of 12-year-old
 Deamonte Driver, Prince George's County, Md., from a severe brain infection
 that may have resulted from his deplorable degree of untreated dental
 disease. This is an extreme example of what then-Surgeon General David
 Satcher called a "silent epidemic" of untreated oral disease in his
 landmark report on oral health in 2000.
     Deamonte's death should be a wake-up call to the nation. It is a
 national disgrace that in the 21st Century America, millions of children
 don't have access to basic preventive and restorative dental care.
 Thousands of these kids suffer from profound dental disease -- they can't
 eat or sleep properly, can't pay attention in school because they're
 suffering from chronic infections and the resulting constant pain that
 could have been prevented and easily relieved through treatment.
     Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once said that if you don't have
 good oral health, you aren't healthy. Increasingly, science is bearing this
 out. Good oral health isn't just about teeth and gums. It's about overall
 health, about preventing and controlling non-oral diseases, about learning
 and development, self-esteem and employability. And it's everyone's
 business, not just dentists'.
     It's time for action to prevent the next child's needless death; to end
 society's neglect of the oral health of the most vulnerable among us.
 Dentists can lead the way, but we can't do this alone. We need state and
 federal public officials to stop shortchanging dental programs, which costs
 all of us heavily in the long run. We need water fluoridation and the
 universal availability of preventive care, both of which are surefire
 investments that produce healthier, more productive young people. And we
 need to educate all parents about taking care of their children's oral
     It's too late for Deamonte Driver. We as a nation owe it to our
 children to fix the system that let him down.
     The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association,
 representing more than 153,000 members. The premier source of oral health
 information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the
 art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art
 research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that
 have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience
 more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and
 respected guide to consumer and professional products. For more information
 about the ADA, visit the Association's Web site at

SOURCE American Dental Association