bracesHow's this for strangest lawsuit of the week? A dentist is being sued for allegedly leaving braces on a kid for 11 years, leaving the poor kid with a mouth full of rotten teeth.

That got your attention, didn't it? Most kids I know who went through the metal mouth period were forced to wear them for two years, maybe three if their teeth were a truly crooked mess. Eleven years sounds insane, at best.

But the story Devin Bost is telling sounds like it's missing a big piece. Namely: where were his parents during all of this?

Bost is now 22, and he says his braces were first put on when he was 7. Then his family changed orthodontists, and Devin became a patient of Dr. Brad Chvatal. Over the years, his lawyer admits that his client didn't return to follow-up visits as often as he should have. But it wouldn't be until Devin was 18 that Chvatal, the dentist named in the suit, finally yanked those suckers off.

Is Chvatal a bad doctor? Maybe.

But it sounds like Devin Bost's parents played a role here too -- and not a good one. They didn't take their son to his regular office visits? They left braces in his mouth for 11 years without consulting another orthodontist?

It sounds like someone abdicated the role of caring for this kid, and the result was a mouth full of rot. Just another reminder that simply taking your kid to a doctor doesn't mean you're "caring" for them.

In the scheme of things, we don't get a lot of time with our kids. The average American may live into their 70s or 80s, but we get them until they're 18. We have to make that time count. And part of that is taking care of their health. We are ultimately responsible, not some random person in a lab coat.

Does it suck having to take time off from work to shuttle your kids to the pediatrician, the dentist, the eye doctor ...? Yes, it does. It's a pain in the tuchas. But it's our jobs. There aren't many excuses for missing follow-up visits that really fly.

As for the length of time that those braces spent on his mouth: let's get real. If it sound excessive to you and me, it's because that's common sense. Doctors, dentists, aren't infallible. We have to read up, we have to question. We have to decide when they're crossing a line ... and we have to look out for our kids' best interests. If we don't: who will?

Have you had to tell a doctor or dentist that their care wasn't good enough for your child?

 

Image via Jenn Durfey/Flickr