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 http://www.ada.org.
SOURCE American Dental Association