Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grown-Ups Take A Stand, But Kids Pay The Price

Many years ago, I ran for the State Legislature here in Hawaii. I ran as a Democrat in what was then a solid Republican district – temporary insanity is my excuse – and lost.

But I was reminded today of an incident that occurred back then while I was going door-to-door passing out my campaign material. The neighborhood was very hilly and it was a hot day, so when I was offered a cold drink by a 60ish lady in a tidy little house, I gratefully accepted.

She invited me in, sat me down under a churning ceiling fan, and handed me a tall cold glass of iced tea. As I sipped, she asked questions about several issues of the day and absolutely loved every answer I gave. I positively basked in her praise.

Then, ever so innocently, she asked me what I thought about fluoridating the public water supply. Well, I said, the Hawaii Dental Association was strongly in favor of it and my own dentist said it would drastically reduce tooth decay in our kids.

In an instant, she leaped to her feet and shrieked, “Get out! Get out! Get out!” -- literally shoving me out onto her front porch and slamming the door behind me. That loony woman scared the hell out of me! In fact, it was several seconds before I realized I still had the glass of iced tea in my hand.

I was reminded of that today during a visit to my dentist. Just as I walked in, he was telling a lady in the waiting room that he would have to refer her four-year-old daughter to another dentist, a pediodontist, because the child “wasn’t cooperating” while he tried to work on her.

Later, he told me that kids in Hawaii have lots of tooth decay because many parents either can’t afford the daily fluoride drops or just don’t bother. And, of course, our water supply still is not fluoridated. “The Dental Association has given up because we’ve taken so much abuse on that issue,” he said. “People go crazy. It’s just not worth it.”

So how will that other dentist deal with the little girl who wouldn’t cooperate?

“They’ll have to strap her down,” he said. “Sedatives aren’t good because kids on the mainland have actually died from them. But when kids get cavities, the work has to be done. Strapping ‘em down is the only way.”

Here’s an idea: let's make the anti-fluoride people watch while the pediodontist works on that little four-year-old.


Mike said...

Jim, I'm surprised to hear this. I really (& naively) thought fluoridation was no longer an issue.

Can't imagine how a four year old who's been put in restraints to have fillings is going to view visiting the dentist in the future. All because of ignorance among alleged grown ups.

JIM LOOMIS said...

The ideological argument is that a "medication" should not be forced on everyone, which is the case when the public water supply is fluoridated. The reality is that the daily drops do not work as well and, for whatever reason, many parents don't use them. Many of the kids who end up with rotting teeth are from low-income families and the cost of their treatment is ultimately paid for by the taxpayers anyway. So fluoridation is better and far cheaper in the long run.

Kevin Love said...

Jim said

"The ideological argument is that a 'medication' should not be forced on everyone..."

Kevin's comment:

This is somewhat strange. In Ontario there is quite a wide variety of medications that are indeed forced on everyone. Ranging from mandatory vaccinations for children to fluoridation of the water supply to putting iodine into salt.

Yes, that includes laws that ensure that children get the medical treatment they need.

Every so often it hits the newspapers when parents who are members of the Jehovah's Witnesses or some similar bizarre cult refuse blood transfusions or other necessary medical treatment to avoid death or serious injury to their children. Public officials get involved to have the children declared wards of Her Majesty the Queen to get the medical treatment they need.

The cultists scream "religious persecution." But I rather agree with the laws concerning child neglect. Why should children wind up dead because of their parents bizarre cult?

My take on freedom of religion is that adults are free to harm themselves. But they are not free to harm or neglect their children.