I heard that a private dentist had wrestled with my 4 year old grandson for over 45 minutes trying to put my grandson in a papoose board. I was told my grandson fought the dentists and assistants like "he was drowning". It was only after nearly an hour that the dentist suggested sedation to put crowns on his molars. (after 4 years of research, I wonder if they were really needed, we will never know)
I had raised children, both have excellent teeth, saw the dentist on a somewhat regular basis, had a couple of fillings, braces too, and neither of them were strong armed into submission. I did not understand.
I stewed on this for a couple of hours. Anger turned into rage I could feel in the pit of my stomach. Trying to calm myself, I thought I should research this and see if I was possibly I was behind the times so to speak. I hit the Internet and googled the three words that turned a grandmother into an angry whistlblowing blogger and activist - "papoose board dentist".
The number one spot in my google search was a video taken inside a Small Smiles Dental Center near Washington, DC. The video was from an investigative report by Roberta Baskin when she was at WJLA TV. Roberta had been investigating a serious complaint from an insider at the clinic.
The second I clicked the play icon on the video, life as I had known it stopped. When I saw little Miguel fighting three dental assistants like "he was drowning" as they put him this horrid straitjacket type device and pinched his nose to force him to open his mouth I cried. I watched his little feet criss-crossing, back and forth, it was all he could move.
I connected with Miguel that day. I felt his fear of dying, being killed by these monsters in scrubs and no one was there to save him. I felt the terror my grandson experienced just a few days prior - I was actually watching what had happened to my grandson. Miguel's precious little feet, were my grandson's little feet. My chest tightened, my heart broke and a flood of fury was released into the universe. I was pissed!
This video effected me physically, emotionally and mentally. Words can not explain the horror that over came my entire body. I still become emotional, chills still run down my arms when I try to tell how I got here to those who still ask. It is just as difficult for me to watch that video today as it was in 2007.
I was shocked that someone, somewhere had decided this was an acceptable way to treat a child. I could not understand how someone could do it, and but most of all I could not understand how they came to believe it was perfectly alright to do so.
I was shocked when I learned that one family in Colorado, a corrupt dentist and his sons, had designed this "predatory dentistry".
This model was spurring other dentists to adopt the same practices, some coming from inside their own company. Kool Smiles, for example had started from two of this father and son's team, former employees, same for Adventure Dental. Then there was Ocean Dental, Dental Dreams and the list went on and on. I found interstate clinics, regional clinics, even local clinics who were practicing this torturous type of dentistry.
When I saw the pictures of these creeps, I wanted to puke. In their hometown of Pueblo, Colorado they were the "Royal" family, and had even built a football stadium in honor of themselves. I could not understand why no one had ever questioned how 2 dentists and a wanna be pro footballer, made hundreds of millions of dollars, helping the poor - the children no one else wanted to treat - the "underserved". Their millions came from the taxpayer's pockets, since they focused solely on Medicaid children.
I should not have been surprised to learn "speed dentistry on the poor" was seen as such highly profitable and lucrative industry that Arab bankers and Private Equity firms like the Caryle Group wanted in on the cash cow.
Well, this grandmother was about to be asking questions, and I did not have it in me to ask them nicely! Somewhere this small town "chop shop" dentist in Kentucky learned this papoose board technique. He thought it was so acceptable and saw it as a standard of care that he would do it with the assistance of the parents. That meant there must be thousands more, already unleashed on the unsuspecting public or about to be.
After a regretful knee-jerk reaction, I vowed to do whatever it took to expose this horrific, unacceptable "child abuse for profit" scheme and Dentist The Menace, the blog, was born.
The data and information one can gather over the years is amazing. With a turnover rate at near 50% at these dental mills, there are a whole lot of very angry and/or upset ex-employees out there more than happy to vent their information and frustration and my ears were more than eager to listen.
Their First Attempt To Shut Me Up
I didn't budge when they sued me in Federal Court, trying to scare me into shutting up. It not only didn't work, it was the fuel to my fire. FORBA's attorney's at Waller law advised them not to sue, that many times it backfires. They should have taken the advice they paid for, but they didn't. They instead hired another law firm to file a basic Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) against me. I represented myself and it was dismissed a few months later at their request.
I realize the danger I bring to myself, these are very wealthy and powerful people. I do not scare easily, but I am not stupid. I have taken measures to ensure this battle continues on without me, in case of my untimely demise. Yes, I believe it could be that serious, and this is more than a "cause" it has become a war. A war I do not intend on losing.
If their doors are open for business, so are mine. I will never stop until someone listens and stops this child abuse. As long as I am alive I plan on being a thorn in the side of anyone who mistreats children.
I firmly believe everything I have experienced in my life up until this point was preparing me for this long and very lonely battle. It has become who I am - a really pissed off grandmother - and I am perfectly OK with that.
July 5, 2011 - Small Smiles tried to reopen the SLAPP suit in yet another attempt to shut me up. By November 2011, after a hearing in Federal District Court of Western Kentucky, once again they turned tail and ran back to Nashville. I again represented myself.
February 21, 2012 - Church Street Health Management, formerly known as FORBA, the company who owns and operates the Small Smiles Dental centers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Federal District Court of Middle Tennessee. Who's crying now!