Littlest Patients Treated For Profits?

Like many, I’ve always hated going to the dentist. I can’t stand someone prodding around in my mouth or the numbing shots you must get before a procedure. Call me a baby, but getting my wisdom teeth out was one of my worst dental experiences. I’ve decided next time I get a procedure done like that like, I will definitely be put to sleep. I can’t say I will ever forget the sound of my teeth crunching into pieces and being taken out of my mouth.

Now, you can’t help when you actually have to have a procedure done for the right reasons, but what happens when dentists go too far? Back in December I attended the dentist for a normal routine checkup. They told me I had eight cavities that needed to be filled. Going along with it, I had two cavities filled. For months the tooth I had filled bothered me. I decided to go into another dentist to see what they had to say. Turns out I didn’t have eight cavities…only one. The one that was filled may not have even been a cavity, but now I may have to get a root canal to stop the pain.

From these dental experiences, I’ve wanted to do a story on dentists taking advantage of their patients for money. I know it would be tough, especially to find the right people to talk to. So when I saw 20/20’s “Littlest Patients Mistreated for Profits?” I couldn’t resist watching to see what their approach on the story was.

20/20’s “Littlest Patients Mistreated for Profits?” really opened my eyes to the horror in which some little dentist patients are subjected to during their visits. 20/20 took a unique angle to the story and showed how one dentistry chain, Small Smiles Dentistry For Children, takes advantage of its patients to pull in more money. For various reasons, I feel this was a great investigative piece that brought viewers into a world they may have never known about.

Some of the video 20/20 used showed little kids strapped to a table, squirming, and screaming throughout their procedures. I’m not quite sure how they obtained the video, but I did feel this was a time where video spoke louder than words. I feel this was a very smart choice on 20/20’s part to use this video. The fear in the little child’s screaming moved me, as I’m sure it would any viewer. Small Smiles Dentistry claimed they strapped the children to the tables so the dentists could perform the procedures without the children squirming around. What’s worse is, the parents weren’t allowed into the rooms because the dentists felt it would be too much for them to see. 20/20 showed us what took place in the room and how the children came out afterwards. One 5-year-old boy’s mother explained how her son came out of the room drenched in sweat with blood coming out of his mouth. The dentists had given him 16 baby root canals, filling nearly his whole mouth in crowns. 20/20 provided us with pictures and video of this. Once again the video spoke louder than any words that could have been said.

I found it interesting how the interviews with the children and parents took place. 20/20 gathered them in a room and talked with them together. I felt this was a really smart move as well. The parents and children were able to play off each other’s words, giving me more information than I’m sure a one on one interview would have. I also felt they had a fair amount of interviews. They spoke to several children and parents, former employees of Small Smiles Dentistry, a doctor/dentist at one of the chains, and many others involved. Each soundbite 20/20 chose to use magnified the emotion of the story significantly. This I feel like, was due to good interviewing by the reporter.

Overall I really enjoyed how 20/20 put this piece together. I feel it was informative and also drew the viewer in with its video. They had great nat sound, wrote to video well and the story had a really good flow.

I may hate going to the dentist, but after watching this piece I can’t be more thankful I never had to go through what some of these kids did. With stories like these, it really goes to show that journalists truly must be watchdogs for the public and bring to light issues such as this one.


seravina danniella said...

Thank you for sharing. You have broadened my knowledge. Keep up the good work!

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