New York Civil Rights And Criminal Defense Lawyers

Do inmates have a right to dental care?

On Behalf of | Friday Aug 6, 2021 | Civil Rights

When going to prison, inmates often expect to experience confinement, isolation and even intimidation from correctional officers. They may not expect, however, to face declining health. Still, according to the Marshall Project, some inmates wait almost a decade for dental care.

Because they are unable to visit the dentist on their own, inmates have a right to dental care inside prison walls. Regrettably, due to dentist shortages and other factors, prison officials often delay dental procedures so long that inmates suffer both considerable pain and catastrophic complications.

The importance of good oral health

Because they have thousands of nerve endings, damaged teeth can become virtually unbearable. Fortunately, for many sufferers of tooth pain, a simple procedure can quickly resolve the problem. If individuals do not receive prompt dental care, though, they may become increasingly vulnerable to the following conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Infection
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

A violation of rights

Delayed treatment may be evidence of medical malpractice by prison officials. Even worse, because of the pain that often accompanies dental problems and their associated complications, forcing inmates to wait for dental care may violate an inmate’s Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. After all, no judge ever sentences a defendant to spend time behind bars while suffering from debilitating tooth pain.

If someone you love is not receiving proper dental care in prison, you may feel powerless to help. Ultimately, though, because your loved one has rights, you may be able to force prison officials to provide the care he or she desperately needs.