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Children tortured at Small Smiles Dental Clinics

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vespergirl

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I just watched an absolutely heartbreaking clip on 20/20 on children being tortured at Small Smiles Dental Clinics. These clinics are geared towards children whose parents can''t afford regular dentists, and are mostly reimbursed through Medicaid. Because the dentists are paid extra for the more procedures they perform, they do many unnecessary and painful procedures while they retrain the children on boards fitted with straightjackets without adequate anaesthesia.

Parents are not allowed to accompany their children into the treatment areas, and aren''t consulted before work is done, since they are not paying for it. One small boy received 16 root canals in ONE SITTING - he had only 18 teeth at the time.

The clip shows 3 and 4 year olds being physically restrainted and screaming like they are being skinned alive while dentists ignore their pathetic cries and continue to drill. These poor kids were kicking and screaming for their lives, and their parents had no idea. I burst into tears as soon as I saw it - I honestly wish I never had to watch a child being tortured. I have a 2 year old son, and I still can''t imagine him ever having to experience that type of trauma and torture.

Apparantly, the owner of the clinics is being sued by parents and investigated by the federal govt. for Medicaid fraud. I hope he burns in hell, along with the "dentists" that work for him. Here''s a link if you''re interested, but watching those poor children suffer is so awful:
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=7016055&page=1
 

Kaleigh

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I chose not to watch it. Hard enough for me to go through torture at the dentist. If this guy is doing that to poor kids. I have no words.
 

brooklyngirl

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I also chose not to watch the video.

It's appalling what happened, but I wonder why the parents didn't call the police? Performing dental work on anyone without consent is nothing short of assault!

*Edited for grammar.
 

Hudson_Hawk

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no words to express what I''m feeling right now....
 

Deelight

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Date: 3/6/2009 11:15:00 PM
Author: Kaleigh
I chose not to watch it. Hard enough for me to go through torture at the dentist. If this guy is doing that to poor kids. I have no words.

Ditto, just reading what you wrote is hard enough for me.

I have an insane fear of dentists this just makes me sick, upset and angry.
 

SarahLovesJS

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Oh....my.....God!!!
These children are going to be so damaged mentally. I am speechless.
 

Skippy123

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I didn't see it but those things make me LIVID when I hear about abuse like that! That is utterly disgusting; they should be ashamed of themselves!!!
SICK!!!! I am hoping along with you Vespergirl, seriously!
 

AllieGator

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Dec 1, 2008
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I didn''t watch the video, but this makes me sick.

Is it even legal to not allow parents into the office with them? I know at least in my state, if you are under 18 in medical doctors'' offices, you HAVE to be accompanied by an adult, and you can always have a parent with you at any other type of medical situation (dentist, chiropractor, etc).

To think that these people were exploiting children in, what seems to me, one of the most horrific ways possible just to make money? What is wrong with these people...

What makes me most sick about this is that the "dentists" (if you can call them that) will probably get away with a slap on the wrist.
 

icekid

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seriously, I don''t understand how they can forcefully not allow the parent to accomany the child! People are insane.
 

iheartscience

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Wow, I''m not going to watch the video, but this is unbelievable. How could someone be so cruel? It''s disgusting.

These "doctors" will get theirs.
 

Maisie

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I can''t watch it. It would distress me too much. I hope they get whats coming to them. They deserve to go to prison for a long time.
 

CNOS128

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Ugh, I can''t watch the video either. I felt like every pediatric dental experience I had was torture, and I had anesthesia (and no straitjacket).
It''s been a process, but I''ve finally learned that dentists are not actually evil.
This makes me wonder though...
 

deegee

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I just can''t understand how some people can be so cruel. I go to a dentist who specializes in "pain free" dentistry. My hubby had a torture dentist when he was a kid. No numbing for extractions or fillings, and he had lots of fillings. I couldn''t get him to go to the dentist for the longest time after we got married, until I discovered our wonderful "pain free" guy. Those poor kids are going to be traumatized for a long time. That is so sad.
 

packrat

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I can''t watch it. I feel so bad for those kids..and how in the world could an adult, in a professional setting no less, DO those things to kids? And how could you work there, knowing what was going on?? Do people not have hearts or compassion? Or a conscious? I have a hard enough time working in the Dr''s office when kids come in for their immunizations-it makes me cringe to hear them. Do those sickos in that dentist office get off on hurting kids? I''d like to strap them in the chair and do a root canal on them myself.
 

somethingshiny

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I chose not to watch, too. In fact, I''ve been avoiding this thread all day, but finally gave in to reading it. Just reading your post brings tears to my eyes. My 3 yr old son is so tiny and precious, I just can''t fathom ANYONE for ANY REASON trying to harm a child. What kind of a person could do something so awful to someone so little?? I think it''s more than money-grubbing. I think the guy is fulfilling some twisted power fantasy. I rarely believe the worst of people, but I''d like to strap the guy down and grab out my Ryobi and a few attachments and do a little power play on him.

 

MichelleCarmen

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There is NO way I can watch that video!!! How terrible sad. . .


It''s an absolute disgrace that dental care isn''t free to all (providing us all with the power to pick/choose a reputable dentist) . . .my kids go to a "childrens'' dentisit" who unfortunetly charges a fortune and we do not have dental insurance, so we''ve spent quite a bit. . .The place is wonderful, however, and they take excellent care of my kids. There is a sign saying that "it''s better for the children if the parents wait in the outer room," but every time I go there, they invite me in back with them (I think the sign is to prevent parents who bring along siblings from all going back and causing distractions).

***This is a bit shocking, but the dentist my kids see actually recommended *anti-anxiety* meds* for my son (he was 6 at the time) for when he was getting cavities filled!!! Sounded absolulely crazy to me and I declined! Now, however, after reading about the terrible treatment from Small Smiles Clinic, I have to respect that my kids'' dentist thought of EVERY possible way to make the experience non-traumatic for my son. They cared enough about his well being to consider that option (even though I never even imagined a child could even get an RX for something like that!). I guess some parents DO agree to that because their kids need to be calm/comfortable. . .I wouldn''t be able to do so unless one of my sons was a teen and needed his wisdom teeth pulled!
 

vespergirl

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The reason that I posted this is because Small Smiles is a chain all over the southeast, and I was horrifed to find out that there are many of these clinics where we live, in the Metro DC area. Thank goodness we have dental insurance, we will be bringing my son to a pediatric dentist in our area who was recommended by our pediatrician, who we love.

I wanted to post this because there are DOZENS of dentists & dental assistants working for this chain that are complicit in the torture. They showed 3 dental assistants holding a screaming child down while the dentist was drilling on the video - don''t any of those women have hearts? How could they hold that child down?

The expose partially came out when a dental assistant was fired for non-compliance (she said that she would rather lose her job than continue to torture children) and she went to the media with the story. Also, many parents in Charlotte, NC are suing the clinic there. 20/20 also interviewed a dentist who formally worked for the chain who asked to be disguised on camera. He testified that he quit from there because he would feel sick to his stomach going in to work every morning, and couldn''t face his job anymore.

I had many cavities as a small child - my mother would put me to bed with a bottle of milk, which we know you''re not supposed to do anymore. I remember hating having to get the fillings, but I had a wonderful pediatric dentist who was very sensitive to my needs, and they tried to make me as comfortable as possible.

I just couldn''t believe that they use those awful pediatric restraint boards. I had never seen one of those before - they are barbaric. I was also shocked, though, when 20/20 interviewed one of the heads of the pediatric dental assoc., who condoned the use of those boards. I don''t think that they should be used anywhere.
 

Pandora II

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Trust me, free dental care is not a great thing. We have it here in the UK and there is a major difference between private and state care.

I had a traumatic time as a child and was finally convinced to see a dentist in Italy in the hope that removing my amalgam fillings might help my migraines.

He actually did before and after pics and asked if I minded him using them for lectures to demonstrate the horrors of British state dental work!

I actually need to get some work done on mine again, but I am so truly terrified I am avoiding it. I''m less scared of labour than I am of the dentist. I would opt for a general anaethestic if I could!

I couldn''t watch the video, as I could feel my anxiety levels rising just reading that email. I will do everything possible to make the dentist as pleasant as possible for our daughter.

With any luck she''ll get her father''s teeth and not mine (me, my father and his mother all still have some of our baby teeth, some of our adult teeth never appeared and aren''t found on x-rays, no wisdom teeth and very thin tooth enamel all of which equals a lot of problems...)
 

puffy

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i just can''t believe that people would do that to CHILDREN!!
i have not seen the clip and will not see it as your description already practically put me in tears.
just no words....
 

diamondseeker2006

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Can''t watch it either. There certainly are a lot of evil people with no conscience in this world.
 

phoenixgirl

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The video really does sound awful.

I have a friend who did her dental training at a hospital where people without insurance brought their kids. She said that the average child was not being taught to brush his/her teeth and had so many cavities/problems you wouldn''t believe it. I wonder if part of the problem is that some of the children being brought to these places have extreme tooth decay due to negligence on the parents'' part. According to her, 16 root canals on one teenager would not be out of the ordinary due to the shockingly terrible dental hygiene of the patients.

There is more than one side to every story. I''m sure that with a financial incentive to perform more procedures, there are cases of unnecessary procedures done. But it also may be that a child who has never been to the dentist and needs extreme dental work will not just sit quietly through a painful procedure but that anesthesia (which has a small risk of death) is not justifiable or, sadly, an option due to cost.

If this is the case, or at least a part of the truth, imagine how stressful it would be to restrain unwilling children because you have no other way to perform the work that they need on them and then to be accused of torture by the parents who have failed to care for their children properly (and 20/20).

The no parents policy may be because, according to my friend, a lot of parents would more of a hindrance than a help. "Don''t you do that to my baby!" they''d scream at the dentist trying to fix the problems the parents could have easily prevented with proper brushing.

If it can be shown that the dentists knowingly performed completely unnecessary procedures, I will be the first to castigate them. But the other parts -- not allowing parents, restraining the children -- I fear may simply be the only option available in many cases. That can''t be pleasant for either patient or dentist.

Just my two cents. I think of 20/20 as being more sensationalized than not.
 

packrat

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How did the parents not hear the kids screaming? And why couldn''t they use Novocain? I realize the people had no insurance or whatever and it was free care, but good heavens-does that mean someone w/no medical insurance needs to worry about having open heart surgery w/no anesthesia? And maybe the parents didn''t instruct the kids on proper dental hygiene but to torture kids like that is reprehensible.
 

oobiecoo

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I actually had an experience similar to what these kids have gone through one of the many times I had to have teeth pulled. We had to find a dentist who took my CHIP insurance (my parents couldn''t afford actual insurance) so it wasn''t a dentist we were familiar with. They didn''t go as far as performing uneccesary procedures but I did feel tortured. Luckily I was older and had good dental experiences prior to that so I knew that not ALL dentists were bad and haven''t let it affect me. I can''t imagine being so young and going through something like that.
 

Clairitek

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I watched about a minute of the video but I was too sickened at the thought of this to keep watching. I didn''t want to see anything worse than the descriptions of what had happened from the children themselves.

People who do this sort of thing need to rot in hell. Getting over a fear of doctors and dentist is hard enough (I''m 27 and still have tons of dentist anxiety from 2 bad experiences) without monsters like this out there. Good grief.
 

missjae

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That is ABSOLUTELY disgusting!!!!! Poor children, that is like nails on a chalk board to me...who in their right mind could be greedy enough to hurt a child...that''s just gross!
 

AprilBaby

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I am a dental hygienist. This is how dentists pre-1985 were taught to deal in dental school pedo rotation. Never trust a dentist who insists you can not come back. What do they have to hide? Saw this many times at a major dental school in Philly 1976-78. Decided never to work pedo.
 
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