Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dentist of the Back Roads

Dentist of the Back Roads:

"Sarver sees an irony in the lack of Medicaid dental coverage for the old and poor in Louisiana and many other states. 'They'll pay for eyeglasses or penile implants. But they won't pay for teeth.'"

"Nine hundred patients with severe gum disease or abscess. Half of my patients. I take everybody that has swelling. Everybody in pain. Everybody that's got loose teeth. And I help them as best I can. With funding. Without funding. The family pays some, the nursing homes. Sometimes no one pays. It doesn't matter. I do it."

On his way to his next place, Folse stops at a cemetery to visit the grave of a fragile old woman who died recently from complications of a facial abscess. She had many medical issues, but an infection in her mouth finally overran her body's defenses.

"This is an example of oral health being a matter of life and death," he says. "Over the past seven or eight years, I've seen oral health contribute to the death of at least one or two a year."