COLUMN: Hooped without a good dental plan

Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former District of Maple Ridge councillor who writes monthly for The News.

Anyone who thinks Tung Sheng (David) Wu has been the only unlicensed dentist to carry on his trade illegally in this province is delusional.

It is not uncommon by any means for retired dentists and even some who are still active in their profession to carry on business in their homes in much the same manner as Wu.

We have even had examples of this right here in little old Maple Ridge.

While the College of Dental Surgeons, the self-governing body for dentists in B.C., will likely deny the widespread existence of such illegal practices, thousands of patients of these basement practitioners take regular advantage of the bargains available in such unlicensed operations.

The main differences between Wu and many others is that Wu is not in good standing with the College of Dental Surgeons, nor does he possess a licence or adhere to adequate sanitary standards.

There are many reasons why people will patronize illegal or unlicensed basement dental operations but the biggest reason is affordability.

The general lack of affordability of unsubsidized dental work is a many-headed monster and people like Wu are only one aspect of it.

Practically from birth, parents are besieged with dentists’ psychological claptrap that, if we want our children to have a vibrant and prosperous life, they must have perfectly aligned, perfectly formed and perfectly white teeth.

Of course, this all costs money; plenty of money; indecent sums of money, and most of all, money that many parents don’t have unless they have a good, employer-supported dental plan.

According to too many dentists, those poor children whose parents can’t afford these socially vital dental works will be condemned to a substandard life with few friends and a bleak future.

A cynic might claim that the greedy element in dentistry is more interested in esthetics and their own bottom line than they are in the dental well-being of their patients. The advent of dental plans has only made the financial burden of dental costs for many people even more impossible.

Retainers, braces, bridges, root canals, and full or partial dentures can cost many thousands of dollars. In the parlance of today’s world, if you don’t have a dental plan or a huge income, you are hooped.

While some dentists struggle along on net incomes that are not startling, many rake in more than $200,000 per year.

People with dental plans have little regard for how much or how little their dentist makes but people on low incomes and pensioners without dental plans are left in the lurch.

Even at lowest average income for dentists, most old age pensioners earn about one-tenth as much. Without additional resources, many of these people either ignore their dental health or they patronize illegal basement operations such as Wu’s.

The health care system in B.C. is failing in a huge way when it comes to dental health. Only in rare cases will medicare pick up the tab for dental work.

Dentists, dental hygienists, and almost any health care professional will attest to the importance of good dental health on the impact of a person’s overall physical well-being.

By ignoring or evading the issue of dental health costs, the province’s health care system is probably incurring even greater overall costs. And so people with no alternative affordable option will continue to seek out illegal basement dental operations where they can receive treatment.

Editor’s Note: A B.C. Supreme Court justice issued a warrant for Wu’s arrest after he failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance. His whereabouts are unknown.

Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.

Just Posted

Maple Ridge council defeats Burnett St. modular housing application

Some still prefer site at 21375 Lougheed Highway.

Flood advisory: Watching the rising Fraser

Sandbags available for residents of Wharf Street in Maple Ridge

Revamped patio part of Maple Ridge’s downtown plan

Goal is to make the downtown a lively place

Maple Ridge landmark properties up for sale

On either side of Lougheed Highway at entrance to downtown

Tyler O’Neill homers in three straight games

Slugger from Maple Ridge back in the Majors

Maple Ridge tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce RD partnership

Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Ann Wittenberg was visiting Tofino for her daughter Victoria Emon’s wedding

B.C. man facing deportation says terror accusation left him traumatized

Othman Hamdan was acquitted of terrorism-related charges by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in September

Will Taylor Swift’s high concert ticket prices stop scalpers?

Move by artist comes as B.C. looks to how to regulate scalpers and bots reselling concert tickets

36 fires sparked May long weekend, most due to lightning: BC Wildfire

As warmer weather nears, chief fire officer Kevin Skrepnek says too soon to forecast summer

Ariana Grande sends message of hope on anniversary of Manchester bombing

Prince William joins survivors and emergency workers for remembrance service

Fraser River “vulnerable” to any additional inflows: River Forecast Centre

Two dairy farms have already been relocated from evacuated areas

Pipeline more important than premiers meeting: Notley

“Canada has to work for all Canadians, that’s why we’re fighting for the pipeline”

Canadian government spending tens of millions on Facebook ads

From January 2016 to March 2018, feds spent more than $24.4 million on Facebook and Instagram ads

Most Read