Dental care is important for kids. No one is really going to dispute that claim. While young children are going to lose their baby teeth at some point anyway, setting the habits for good oral hygiene is vital.
However, imagine how you would feel if your dentist essentially threatened to report you for neglecting your child if you don’t come in for cleanings according to their schedule. For Trey Hoyumpa, that threat slapped her in the face when she received a letter saying as much.
Hoyumpa then posted it on Facebook for the world to see.
Hoyumpa accuses the practice of some pretty awful things, things that are sketchy enough that I’d refuse to let my kids go back. Then there’s the letter, which, in part, reads:
According to law, failure to bring your child in for dental care is child neglect. Pennsylvania Act 31 (Child Abuse Reporting and Recognition Requirements) states that health care providers must report your failure to bring your child to the dentist for evaluation and care. A copy of Act 31 is enclosed for your reference. Smiles 4 Keeps has not reported your child’s outstanding treatment as of yet. Since this law is in effect, we hope this letter encourages you schedule an appointment to follow through with needed dental treatment for your child.
Now, let’s take a step back on this for a moment.
Yes, dental care is important. It’s especially important when we’re dealing with something like an abscess or potentially threatening condition, but it’s also important for routine care. I get that. I really do.
However, here’s the text of Act 31. It’s clearly about mandatory reporting, but there’s nothing at all defining neglect to include missing dental cleanings or even routine checkups. It’s merely saying they’re required to report signs of abuse.
Have they seen any?
While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services does consider the failure of a parent to provide dental care as a sign of child neglect, even they acknowledge that kids can do just fine without such treatment for some time. What we’re missing here are a couple of key data points. Namely, how delayed the treatment is.
The fact that Smiles 4 Keeps hasn’t actually called the authorities indicates it hasn’t been that long. If it was of a sufficiently long time, they’d be bound by Pennsylvania state law to make a call. They haven’t. They explicitly state they haven’t.
Instead, it looks like they’re just using Act 31 to bully people to come and see them more often, threatening to call child protective services of that county. That’s a problem. Considering the other practices alleged, something is seriously amiss.