On to today's dentistry and health headlines:
For dentist with student debt, repaying is like pulling teeth
His jaw clenched beneath a blue surgeon's mask, Opanin Gyaami jerks his right arm and pulls out a prize: the decayed tooth of patient Larry Butler, also known as state prison inmate J22312.
By the time he is done, Gyaami's smock and mask are spotted with the inmate's blood. He gently pats Butler on the shoulder and wishes him well.
The 71-year-old dentist reports to the state prison in Vacaville day after day, long past retirement age. He wishes he could have hung up his drill and forceps years ago, but he's still paying off a student loan.
After borrowing $50,000 in the 1980s and ignoring payment notices, Gyaami owes more than $500,000 with penalties and interest. The Justice Department took him to court and is seizing $3,000 from his paycheck each month.
Gyaami doesn't expect any sympathy; he knows he's at fault and has added to his problems by falling behind on his income tax. He acknowledges he made some bad decisions along the way.
Richland dentist fined for writing unlawful prescriptions
A Northeast Richland dentist will pay a fine and will lose her ability to write prescriptions for narcotics for three years, after federal authorities accused her of unlawfully prescribing painkillers and appetite suppressants.
Dr. Chrislyn Lawhon agreed to a settlement with the federal government over allegations that she unlawfully prescribed Vicodin and Percocet, two pain-relieving narcotics, and Adipex, an appetite suppressant, according to a report from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She will pay a $37,500 fine and will receive a Restricted Drug Enforcement Administration Certificate of Registration that will limit her ability to prescribe, administer or dispense certain controlled substances for at least three years, the report said.
Lawhon denied any wrongdoing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Link Between Obesity and Dental Health in Homeless Children Strengthened
Obesity and dental cavities increase and become epidemic as children living below the poverty level age, according to nurse researchers from the Case Western Reserve University and the University of Akron.
"It's the leading cause of chronic infections in children," said Marguerite DiMarco, associate professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.
Researchers Sheau-Huey Chiu, assistant professor, and graduate assistant Jessica L. Prokp, from the University of Akron's College of Nursing, contributed to the study.
Researchers found that as body mass index (BMI) increased with age, so do the number of cavities. These findings were published in the online Journal of Pediatric Health Care article, "Childhood obesity and dental caries in homeless children."
Coalinga dentist waives hearing in son's death
A new wrinkle arose Thursday in the case of a Coalinga dentist whose son died in his office after getting morphine shots for dental surgery last year.
Allen Clare, 68, decided he didn't want a hearing in front of a Fresno County judge who was considering tougher charges against him.
On Thursday, Clare maintained his innocence and waived his right to that hearing.
Now the case will go directly to trial.
Clare initially made a plea deal to serve probation on a charge of violating the state's business and professions code, and Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jon Nick Kapetan signed off on it in June.
In addition to probation, Clare would forfeit his dentistry license for the death of his son.
Patrick Clare, 35, went to see his father in April 2011 for an abscessed tooth and died in the dentist's chair. Pathology tests found nearly three times the toxic level of morphine in his blood.
When Coalinga Police Chief Cal Minor learned about the plea deal, he said Clare got preferential treatment.
Coalinga police recommended a murder charge against Clare when the case was filed with the District Attorney's Office in 2011. And in June, Minor said that, at minimum, he believed Clare should face a manslaughter charge.
In September, as Clare returned for sentencing, Kapetan said he wouldn't accept the plea deal and ordered a preliminary hearing.
Enjoy your morning!