$350,000 for No Toothpaste?!
Posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010
Talk about frivolous lawsuits! Rights Juris reports:
Jerry Flanory, 58, of Flint, Michigan filed a lawsuit against prison officials a few years ago. It was dismissed as “frivolous.” The Federal Appeals Court has reinstated his lawsuit against the officials at Newberry prison in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Jerry Flanory contends that not being allowed toothpaste for almost a year was “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Never-mind that Jerry Flanory was sent to prison for five years for assault (I’m sure the victim would say that was cruel and unusual, too), he wants at least three hundred and fifty thousand dollars – that’s $350,000.00 for developing a gum disease and having to have one lower left tooth removed!
Now, being in the dental biz, we do have some sympathy for the court’s justification in reinstating the case, as cited from the AP report of its decision:
The lack of “toothpaste for 337 days and resulting health problems amount to more than a mere inconvenience or a harmless deprivation of hygiene products.”
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“This court has found dental health to be of great importance,” a three-judge panel said, citing a past decision from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Yes, gum disease and tooth loss are both serious matters, especially the former, as it’s been linked to a number of medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Dental health is “of great importance.”
That said, brushing alone is not the main factor in gum disease. (Others include flossing, smoking/tobacco use, diet, stress, exercise and genetics.) But even if it were, as we’ve
written before, while the kind of toothpaste you use matters, toothpaste itself doesn’t matter much. What does matter?
The key in cleaning your teeth is to thoroughly disturb the biofilm formed by microbes in the mouth. Biofilm (also called “plaque”) is kind of like pond scum: the result of colonizing microbes. (Read more about what dental biofilm is and how it affects your teeth. You can even watch how it colonizes here.) Just as when you twirl a stick in pond scum, the scum breaks up, so brushing, flossing and other cleaning actions break up biofilm in the mouth. Toothpaste acts as a mild abrasive and kind of “soap” for the teeth, thus making brushing more effective. The ideal paste contains no fluoride, sugar or SLS, and you can read more about the subject here.