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Inside America's Dental Care Crisis

On June 26, FRONTLINE (PBS) aired an investigation about the nation’s dental care system. WebMD readers were invited to view the show and join a chat with the reporters on the story the following day.  Below is a transcript of the Q&A.

Watch Dollars and Dentists on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Dental care can be a matter of life and death. Yet millions of Americans can’t afford a visit to the dentist, resulting in preventable diseases, bankruptcy, and sometimes even death.

Why is dental care out of reach for so many?

In the new film “Dollars and Dentists,” FRONTLINE and the Center for Public Integrity reveal the shocking consequences of a ruptured dental care system, and explore some solutions to fix it.

Poor children are especially at risk — most dentists won’t see children on medicaid because there’s no profit margin. One in four children have untreated tooth decay, now the most common chronic illness among school-aged children.

Correspondent Miles O’Brien investigates how privately backed pediatric dental chains are popping up to treat these kids at Medicaid rates. But there’s suspicion some of these chains could be taking advantage of their young patients.

For adults with dental disease, the situation can be as dire — and bankrupting. While millions of Americans use emergency rooms for dental care, at a cost of more than half a billion dollars, corporate dental chains are filling the gaps in care, in some cases allegedly overcharging patients or loading them with high priced credit card debt.

On June 27, reporters Miles O’Brien, David Heath, and Jill Rosenbaum took your questions about  “Dollars and Dentists” and American’s dental care crisis during a live chat.

You can read the chat transcript below.

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