In Lincoln, Nebraska, a dentist working with the state prison system sent an invoice to the department for a total of $145,500 to make dentures for numerous prison inmates who otherwise would not have been eligible to receive them, according to the Nebraska State Auditor’s Office.
Dr. David Schrad, whose contract of employment was canceled in April, said that he never received guidelines to follow in order to determine who was and was not qualified to receive dentures.
“It’s the Department of Corrections, and I’ll leave it at that,” Dr. Schrad told the Omaha World-Herald.
About 15% of the edentulous population has dentures made each year, and they can be massively helpful to those with missing teeth to perform necessary functions like eating and talking.
According to the Herald, the Corrections Department has raised concerns for years regarding overcrowding issues, miscalculation of sentences, and other misconduct. However, they issued a formal response stating that the dentist was made fully aware of the regulations and guidelines of the prison: inmates must serve at least 24 months before receiving eligibility for state-funded partial or full dentures. In addition, they must have no fewer than six months left on their sentences.
In response to Dr. Schrad’s comments, spokesperson for the Corrections Department Dawn-Renee Smith said that it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on the extent of Dr. Schrad’s knowledge of prison policies.
However, she did state that the department requested the audit upon being informed that rules were going unfollowed in addition to raising suspicions as to the number of dentures being made.
“There were issues, and some of those were related to the protocols,” said Smith.
There’s no doubt that dental services are a necessity. About 74% of Americans have some form of periodontal disease as it is, and neglecting dental care for upwards of 24 months can take a serious toll on oral health. But clearly, a better system must be put in place to prevent miscommunications and unclear bills.
Regardless, the inmates who were lucky enough to receive state-funded dentures are very fortunate. According to an AACD survey, virtually all adults (99.7%) surveyed believe a healthy smile is socially important, but it’s medically important as well.