My Wonkblog column today was on the scandal of American dental care
Robert (pictured right) has been homeless for years. When I asked about his dental problems, he pulled his lips back to show the damage. A sweet, soft-spoken man, he has unfilled cavities. He needs a crown. He is waiting on a long-overdue root canal. It would cost about $1,000, which he doesn’t have. He doesn’t have the $50 needed for a basic cleaning. So he hasn’t had his teeth cleaned in two years. All that time, he has chewed all his food on the left side: “These teeth are very weak.”
By the way, the $180 million capital costs associated with a single proton beam radiotherapy machine–a technology with highly speculative therapeutic benefits over cheaper therapies–could finance routine teeth cleanings for 3.6 million low income people.