When you read a story like this one, where a 71 year old man, working without running water or sterilization equipment in a storage unit is performing dental work, it's easy to wonder "how on earth would people be willing to submit to that?" If you think I'm exaggerating here, read this:
The scene was reminiscent of old back-alley abortion clinics, though not as shady: an operating theater in dirty, unsterile conditions.But you know something? I've had dental pain bad enough that I've numbed it with whiskey and ibuprofen--not killed it, mind you; only got the throbbing down to where I wasn't ready to kill someone. But I was lucky--I had options. I lived in a city with a dental school that didn't require a credit check for their financing program, and I had the money for a down payment.
Police pulled up to a storage unit in Palm Springs to find a man with a light attached to his head, leaning over a patient in a reclining dental chair. There was a syringe filled with lidocaine smuggled in from Colombia, police said. Dental tools and a trash can with bloodied gauze told the rest of the story.
And yet, while we talk about the need for universal health insurance, and the desire to include mental health in the options, there's very little rumbling about dental care, even though one of the surest signs of where a person resides in the economy is the condition of his or her teeth. (Yeah, I've got an appointment this afternoon--why do you ask?)
Hat tip to Rick