Last week, The Tulsa World ran a sweet story on the school nurse from St. Mary’s who kids often turn to for help pulling their baby teeth. It was the fluffy sort of piece that the Today Show is almost entirely made up of–one that you’ll skim through, maybe smile about, then forget 5 minutes later. That is, unless you’re on the Oklahoma Dentistry Board. Then you might take as one heckuva tip into some potential criminal activity.
From the The Tulsa World:
The Tulsa World featured a school “Tooth Fairy” in a story on Monday. Now that Tooth Fairy is under investigation by the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry.
The story, which was published in Monday’s Scene section, profiled School of St. Mary health-room director Jeanne Mandeville. Affectionately referred to as the Tooth Fairy by students at the school, she has assisted a number of fearful students over the years as their teeth teetered on the edge of falling out.
Over the years, many parents have depended on Mandeville to help their children with this part of growing up, but from the dentistry board’s perspective, this was a problem.
Mandeville might be keeping children at the kindergarten-though-eighth-grade school from going to a licensed dentist who could notice any other oral issues they might be facing, and her actions, technically, could be a felony, the board said.
Parents are allowed to assist with tooth-pulling because it’s done in a less formal, less organized manner, dental board Executive Director Susan Rogers said. The formal manner of having a school health-room director pull the tooth could keep the child from having needed visits with a dentist, she said…
A complaint in an email that was forwarded to the dentistry board on Thursday accused Mandeville of “practicing pediatric dentistry without a license” and said she was “not qualified, not even allowed to put gauze into a mouth without a practicing Dentist at her side.” In all capital letters, the complaint stated that Mandeville was “PRACTICING DENTISTRY ILLEGALLY.”
Rogers said the board is concerned about health issues, such as the disposal of biological material like bloody gauze and gloves…
I’m not sure what methods this Tooth Fairy was using to remove teeth, but they had to be less violent than the ones my parents employed. These may or may not have included needle-nosed pliers, encouraged rough-housing, and copious amounts of candy apples.
Of course, this turn of event has caused outrage on message boards, Facebook, and St. Mary’s parents alike, all hurt and furious that their sweet little school nurse may be facing criminal charges over something that would seem to most as a completely harmless act of nurturing and kindness. And you know what? I agree with them. Seems weird that the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry would so publicly unleash a witch hunt against Ms. Mandeville–I mean, don’t they have AIDS and Hep-C lawsuits to worry about?
Because of the outrage, the Oklahoma Dentistry Board has changed its course:
State Dentistry Board might take no action against Tulsa school’s ‘tooth fairy’
The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry might take no action in response to a complaint against a Tulsa school’s “tooth fairy,” officials said Monday.
The board received a complaint last week after the Tulsa World’s Scene section featured Jeanne Mandeville, health-room director at the School of St. Mary, where she often helps younger students pull loose teeth.
The dentistry board has not had time to review the complaint, Executive Director Susan Rogers said.
“No action has been taken by the board,” she emphasized Monday.
The board, however, has faced a lot of public criticism after the World reported on Saturday’s front page that the school official was being investigated by the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, Rogers said.
She contradicted that report on Monday, saying the board had not had time to consider its response to the complaint.
“We may do nothing,” Rogers said. “I don’t know yet.”
That’s good, however, it does seem like a bit of a slippery slope. I mean, am I liable if I pull someone else’s kid’s teeth? What about administering a bandage? Or stuffing gauze up some brat’s nose? Or giving them dirty looks when they don’t shut up at a restaurant. How long does this statute of limitations last? These are questions I need answers too, as I plan on spending some time with children in the next few years.
On the other hand, I can see how the original backs the Dentistry Board into a corner and forces them to take some sort of public action. As they learned in Oklahoma City, you can’t have everyone running around thinking they’re a dentist.
Follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xCawoodstock
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