Monday, March 16

Home Dental Office in my Neighborhood

dental office east arlington
Apparently, one of my neighbors was running an illegal dental office a couple blocks away. I never knew such a place existed. I mean, I could see a massage parlor or loansharking business, but an actual dental office? And without me even knowing it.

According to the news, neighbors (not me) saw lots of people coming and going all day long, with cars driving slowly to find the address. To make it less suspicious, maybe he should have stuck a big Jaguars flag out front, since no one else in the neighborhood bothers to fly one of those.

But I have to wonder how it worked. I have to assume he used the master bath, since the one in our nearby house is ridiculously large. I think you need running water and a sink. Sure, there's probably a portable kit that could be set up in the dining room. Like something Dentists Without Borders might take to a Third World country. But this is East Arlington, folks, not Middleburg.

I also wonder why people were OK with showing up at someone's house for dental appointments. I'm sure he claimed to have a degree in dentistry (he doesn't), but even if he did. It's just not acceptable to run a dental office out of the home. Granted, Dr. Stone from the Donna Reed Show did run his pediatric practice out of the house, but that was back in the dark ages of medicine, and it was never implied he delivered babies there.

From what I can tell, people got dental care out of a house for three reasons: it seemed OK, it was cheap, and the guy spoke Spanish. An interview with a former patient revealed that the man was basically satisfied with the service. I've been to enough dental appointments in my life to be able to clean people's teeth in a way that would probably make them feel like I was doing a decent job. Filling cavities, not so much, but I could probably clean some teeth. Services at the in-house dental office were cheap, and you could even get braces for under $1,000. Even cheapo braces cost $5,000, so that's a pretty dramatic savings. It also makes me wonder what the markup is for such services. People who did not speak English, and probably a lot of Spanish-speaking immigrants, saw this dentist as a good option. Immigrants may not have insurance and will often work for cash, and I'm sure a dental office that charged low rates and could understand the language helped with the popularity. 

While I am not in favor of people impersonating medical professionals, I do believe that preventative medical and dental care are important, and I hope the local dental community has a way to provide services to those who sought it out in my neighborhood. However, I have a feeling that local dentists don't tend to do this, which means these people will actually be worse off now that the home dental business is gone. The average cost of a dental cleaning is around $200. If you take home $20,000 a year and have a family of 5, then $1,000 for dental appointments is probably a non-starter, especially if you don't qualify for government help as an immigrant. It's kind of weird that someone who is blatantly breaking the law could be helpful to and appreciated by some people. While I agree it needs to be illegal and that my neighbor should pay for his crimes, I also hope that we can learn from the situation rather than just condemn all parts of it.

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