Small Smiles involved in child restraint law change

By: Cary Leider Vogrin
January 20, 2010

Published Oct. 28, 2004

DENVER - The practice of strapping children to boards in dental offices will be restricted, a state board decided Wednesday.

Starting Jan. 1, 2005, kids can't be restrained on "papoose boards" unless a dentist has considered all other less-restrictive attempts to manage the child's behavior. The rules also say if boards are used, the dentist must document, in the patient's record, the reason for the use.

A committee appointed by the Colorado Board of Dental Examiners drafted the restraint policy after The Gazette analyzed state Medicaid records and reported that one dental partnership in the state used the boards almost 7,000 times during an 18-month period.

The partnership treats primarily poor children at five clinics across Colorado, including Small Smiles Dentistry in Colorado Springs. The other clinics are in Pueblo, Thornton, Denver and Aurora.

Small Smiles sees the overwhelming majority of children on Medicaid in El Paso County, and the office also has an advertising agreement with Colorado Springs District 11 that allows it to advertise on buses and to send postcards homes with students three times a year.

The $7,000 it paid to the district this year also entitles it to place signs in district elementary schools.

Dr. Mike DeRose of Pueblo, who owns Small Smiles, attended Wednesday's hearing but did not testify as expected. He left as the rule was being discussed by board members.

DeRose and several other dentists affiliated with the partnership submitted written testimony to the board opposing parts of the rule change, as did two Pueblo lawmakers: state representatives Dorothy Butcher and Buffie McFadyen.

Butcher wrote that children "without question will be impacted" by the new rule.

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