Article for all the socialized medicine proponents

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cfabe, May 8, 2006.

  1. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/world/europe/07teeth.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

    ROCHDALE, England, May 2 — "I snapped it out myself," said William Kelly, 43, describing his most recent dental procedure, the autoextraction of one of his upper teeth.

    William Kelly, 43, extracted part of his own tooth, leaving a black stump. He plans to pull one more.

    Now it is a jagged black stump, and the pain gnawing at Mr. Kelly's mouth has transferred itself to a different tooth, mottled and rickety, on the other side of his mouth. "I'm in the middle of pulling that one out, too," he said.

    It is easy to be mean about British teeth. Mike Myers's mouth is a joke in itself in the "Austin Powers" movies. In a "Simpsons" episode, dentalphobic children are shown "The Big Book of British Smiles," cautionary photographs of hideously snaggletoothed Britons. In Mexico, protruding, discolored and generally unfortunate teeth are known as "dientes de ingles."

    But the problem is serious. Mr. Kelly's predicament is not just a result of cigarettes and possibly indifferent oral hygiene; he is careful to brush once a day, he said. Instead, it is due in large part to the deficiencies in Britain's state-financed dental service, which, stretched beyond its limit, no longer serves everyone and no longer even pretends to try.

    Mr. Kelly, interviewed in a health clinic here as he waited for his son to see a doctor, last visited a dentist six years ago, in Sussex.

    Since moving to Rochdale, a working-class suburb of Manchester, he has been unable to find a National Health Service dentist willing to take him on.

    Every time he has tried to sign up, lining up with hundreds of others from the ranks of the desperate and the hurting — "I've seen people with bleeding gums where they've ripped their teeth out," he said grimly — he has arrived too late and missed the cutoff.

    "You could argue that Britain has not seen lines like this since World War II," said Mark Pritchard, a member of Parliament who represents part of Shropshire, where the situation is just as grim. "Churchill once said that the British are great queuers, but I don't think he meant that in connection to dental care."

    Britain has too few public dentists for too many people. At the beginning of the year, just 49 percent of the adults and 63 percent of the children in England and Wales were registered with public dentists.

    And now, discouraged by what they say is the assembly-line nature of the job and by a new contract that pays them to perform a set number of "units of dental activity" per year, even more dentists are abandoning the health service and going into private practice — some 2,000 in April alone, the British Dental Association says.

    How does this affect the teeth of the nation?

    "People are not registered with dentists, they can't afford to go private and therefore their teeth are going rotten," said Paul Rowen, the member of Parliament for Rochdale. Rotting teeth and no one to treat them are among his constituents' biggest complaints, up there with gas prices and shrinking pensions. Just 33 percent of the Rochdale population is signed up with a state dentist, down from 58 percent in 1997.

    Nor is the level of care what it might be. The system, critics say, encourages state dentists to see too many patients in too short a time and to cut corners by, for instance, extracting teeth rather than performing root canals.

    Claire Dacey, a nurse for a private dentist, said that when she worked in the National Health Service one dentist in the practice performed cleanings in five minutes flat.

    Moreover, she said, by the time patients got in to see a dentist, many were in terrible shape.

    "I had a lady who was in so much pain and had to wait so long that she got herself drunk and had her friend take out her tooth with a pair of pliers," Ms. Dacey said.

    Some people simply seek treatment abroad.

    "I saw it on the Internet," said Josie Johnson, 42, of London, describing how she heard about a company called Vital Europe, which offers dental-and-vacation packages to Hungary. "It's a quite small country, and I thought, they specialize in dentistry — so that's what I might do."

    The dentists she consulted in London told her the four implants she needs would cost 8,000 to 10,000 pounds ($14,900 to $18,600); similar treatment in Budapest costs 3,200 to 4,400 pounds ($5,900 to $8,200), according to VitalEurope.

    Beyond that, she said, "I can make a holiday of it."

    In Rochdale, people who have no dentist but who are in dire straits can visit an emergency clinic that very day — provided they can get an appointment. The phones open at 8 a.m.; the books are closed by about 8:10.

    "We see toothaches through trauma, toothaches through neglect, dental caries, dental abscesses, gum disease," said Dr. Khalid Anis, the clinical leader for the emergency facility, the Dental Access Center. "What we see is shocking."

    Dr. Anis enumerated some positive dental developments in Rochdale: a second, soon-to-be-opened clinic; an aggressive community-health program; a political push, finally, to fluoridate the water. But, he said, "sometimes I feel as if I'm hitting my head against a brick wall."

    The waiting room at the center was a testament to his concerns. Sitting by the window was George Glasper, 81. One of Mr. Glasper's teeth had broken off a week earlier, but when he called his dentist, he was told the practice had become a private one. Efforts to sign up with four other dentists failed, he said.

    Nearby sat Shahana Begum, 27, a Bangladeshi immigrant with a bad toothache and no dentist. Her stepdaughter, Sanya Karim, 16, said her family had been trying to find a health service dentist for six years, since moving to Rochdale from Birmingham.

    Occasionally, Miss Karim says, she feels a twinge or an ache, but she tries to ignore it. "It normally goes away in a couple of days," she said.

    In extremis, Britons can always buy dental emergency supplies made by a company called Passion for Health DenTek. These include materials that allow people to replace lost fillings, treat gum pain or reattach cracked crowns "until they can actually get in and see a dentist," said Jennifer Stone, the company's sales and marketing director. Sales in Britain have increased by 40 percent in the last year, Ms. Stone said.

    A recent Guardian newspaper article about the company titled "D.I.Y. Dentistry" (meaning Do It Yourself) said that the previous week British drugstores had sold 6,000 jars of the filling replacement, and 6,000 of the crown-and-cap replacement.

    Ms. Stone, an American, says she is struck by the profound differences in attitudes about dental care in Britain and the United States.

    "Prevention and having nice white shiny teeth is a huge priority for us from the moment we're born," she said. "That doesn't seem to be the culture here. You've got a lot of tea drinkers; you've got a lot of staining. In the U.S., we go through a spool of dental floss in six weeks, on average. Here it's a year and a half."

    Back in Rochdale clinic, Dr. Anis laughed hollowly when the word came up in connection with his patients, who come from some of the area's most deprived neighborhoods. "Floss?" he said. "That's a good one."
     
  2. auntieemu

    auntieemu Well-Known Member

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    That is pretty bad isn't it?
     

  3. bostonlesley

    bostonlesley Guest

    Meanwhile, back in the USA, people who are fortunate enough to have dental insurance receive great dental care.
    People who are extremely poor can access FREE dental clinics.
    People who are right smack in the middle cannot afford dental care. I get a tad upset when I hear dentists saying "tsk tsk" "people need to get in here and receive preventive dental care"..really? And if dentists really wanted to provide "everyone" with those nice healthy teeth, why are they so incredibly expensive?

    Ever price a root canal to save a tooth? Braces? How about removing a few wisdom teeth? Unless you have a few THOUSAND extra dollars just hanging around in a fruit jar, it's cheaper to have the tooth pulled while some dentist looks at you and frowns at your "poor dental care".

    It's good to brush, floss, pay attention to oral hygiene, yet teeth are often in need of intervention anyway, despite "good preventive" measures..if you don't have the money, or insurance, I don't see anyone in the dental profession stepping up to the plate for the middle class.
     
  4. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    We just finished paying for my son's orthodontics -- six extractions of juvenile teeth, braces for a year and now a retainer -- looking like it will go for a year, and with mouth growth, will have to have a new retainer made at some point, although he's currently on his first one. All this and a kid with extreme oral sensitivity. You get the picture. His teeth were EXTREMELY crooked, coming in sideways, and causing him headaches.

    The bill so far? $4750. And while basic child dental checkups are covered here, orthodontics is not. Some companies offer their employees a portion paid with their dental plan -- but not many.

    My husband is British. He doesn't have "perfect" teeth, one is a bit crooked, but he doesn't have the extremes that one sees examples of, either. Just one character-enhancing slightly crooked tooth. But his teeth are strong and healthy -- enhanced by the healthy-start programs for British children who get free milk and dental supplies, etc., through the community health offices.

    I have travelled in England, have a lot of British relatives and friends -- and I have to tell you, few have the "snaggle-toothed" issue that seems to come to mind when people mention British dental care -- and which movies like that idiocy Austin Powers play on. As a matter of fact, I've met more Americans with poor teeth than British -- and I honestly believe it has more to do with diet than anything else.

    The issue comes from the fact that the British don't have the same view of "acceptable" as your average monied American does. "Perfect" teeth aren't imperative -- healthy teeth that do their job are. The British aren't hung up on a single crooked tooth, or even two or three, like those of us in North America are. It's perception, and media, that have made it into the butt of jokes that it has become. Are there people there with grossly crooked teeth? Absolutely -- but there are here, as well.

    Basic dental care OUGHT to be accessible and inexpensive -- just as basic health care should be -- BUT if the dental issue or health issue is as a result of laziness or lack of self-care, then yes, by all means, exclude it. If people can't be bothered to take care of themselves, I don't see why the public ought to pay for it.

    One of the interviewees said he tries to "brush once daily". I don't know about the average, but in our family, our children (and DH and I) brush after every meal and before bed. If there is something that can be done that is preventative, why wouldn't you do it?
     
  5. Gunner0331

    Gunner0331 Well-Known Member

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    If I were king I'd take all the brand new graduates of medical, dental, and law schools and have them work on fixed salaries in community medical, dental or legal clinics for eight years of service to their nation before being allowed to move on into private practice. In exchange for providing this free or low-cost service to the public their student loans would be forgiven in total or in part.

    Those of us who served or are presently serving are generous souls who do not want to deprive our countrymen and women of the pride such service instills.

    Gunner
     
  6. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Funny how the Brits will NOT pay for dental care. So more Brits have teeth as bad as those Americans unwilling to pay for dental care despite free care being available to the lucky who can sign up for NHS dentists (I was able to for my family where I live but have opted for US NAvy dentists since the NHS dentist seemed to rush us through).

    The Labour Party is doing the same thing to medicine here actually- cutting funding for real medical care while producing more and more administrators to suck away money without caring for people- so that it gets harder and harder to get good medical care on the NHS. Nurses who do nursing are rarer and rarer as they all get promoted to doing doctors' jobs badly, in the end costing more than spending more money on doctors would, and gutting the numbers of nurses doing nursing care. Still everyone in the UK gets better care than the worst cared for in the US, just the besst cared for in the US are better off than the average patient in the UK. (Best cared for in UK probably pay less for equal or better more posh care thanthat available best in US).
     
  7. peekin

    peekin Well-Known Member

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  8. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I really think all of this depends on where you are in each country. We never had a problem in the UK, my family are still there and still receiving excellent care (mum has cancer, sister has ME, niece is pregnant and nephew has asthma and epilepsy). Over here we have a terrible time - getting insurance is only half of the struggle it seems, finding a doctor who accepts it can be very hard. Our boys go to a dentist 60+ miles away because there are none closer who accept our insurance and see children.
     
  9. Lindafisk

    Lindafisk Well-Known Member

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    Wow, if you have free dental clinics there then we are on the way! We have been looking for one of those for years or even one that has a sliding scale. The college dental school does sliding scale but is ALWAYS busy. Dh can't take days and days off to stand in line and wait....
    Our insurance has never covered more than a drop in the bucket on anything other than cleanings and fillings.
     
  10. flannelberry

    flannelberry Pure mischief

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  11. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    And here's UK numbers "The UK is 14th, with an average of 71.7 years. For UK women the average is 73.7 years, for men it is 69.7 years" vs US 24th with an average of 70.0 years. women 72.6, men 67.5

    OK guys? So by this measure average US man is 2 years worse off than British, US woman 1 year worse off than British.
     
  12. flannelberry

    flannelberry Pure mischief

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    I think the other thing is that I don't understand why one bad example of socialized health care is enough to dismiss the entire system (no one has claimed it's flawless).
     
  13. Goldwave

    Goldwave Active Member

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    Health care is failing everywhere. I think we definitely need to reinstate the idea of a real family doctor - I was blessed to have a great one as a child and, on the rare occasions as an adult (thank God) that I needed to see a doctor I would go to him even though he was in a different town at that point. Because he knew my history, and treated my parents and knew their health histories, he always knew just what to do quickly and I had complete confidence in him. He's retired now! I haven't had a good doctor since and actually most of them give me the creeps and tell me something wrong or send me on goose-chases. Haven't had a good dentist since my brother's friend who was my dentist joined the Air Force and moved to Texas....