Homeless Maryland Boy Dies From Tooth Infection

Dental Community in Shock

The death of a homeless boy in Maryland from a tooth infection has stunned the US dental community. Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver had an abscessed molar; left untreated, the infection spread to his brain and killed him. The tragedy has led to renewed calls for better dental care for the poor, particularly improving access to care for children living in poverty.

Driver’s mother claims she tried hard to find dental care for him. The family’s Medicaid coverage had lapsed, allegedly because enrollment paperwork was sent to the wrong address.

In January, his mother took Deamonte to the hospital for a severe headache. At that point doctors discovered it was the result of a severely infected molar. The infection had by then spread to his brain. Doctors operated twice, and Deamonte had spent several weeks in rehabilitation at the time of his death.

Though Maryland has approximately 5,500 dentists, less than 1,000 of them accept Medicaid. In addition, statistics show that less than a third of the children in Maryland’s Medicaid program receive dental treatment in any given year. What’s more, Maryland is hardly alone in this problem.

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