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Letters: Medical vs. dental coverage

November 04, 2013

As I was reading the letters in the Sept. 2 issue of ADA News, I couldn't help but ask myself why is an abscessed tooth not also a medical problem, covered by medical insurance? ('ER dental visits''ER patients' and 'More on ER dental care') If an infection in the oral cavity is not serious enough to be covered by medical insurance, then why do medical doctors want infections in the oral cavity (i.e. dental abscesses, periodontal disease) resolved, before many types of medical surgeries are performed? Where has organized dentistry dropped the ball in making our profession not worthy to be paid by medical insurance in the aforementioned cases, as well as ER visits (when a true dental emergency can be verified)?

Please understand, I love my profession. I love it enough to be sad and outraged when we appear as less than a "real" medical-related entity. Why does my medical insurance pay for a podiatrist to operate on my foot, when it will not pay to have an infected tooth removed? This issue has been a bur under my saddle for a long time. My father and both of my brothers are M.D.s, and they can't understand it either. Perhaps some of my colleagues will have answers.

Robert D. Thomas, D.D.S.
Savannah, Tenn.