- Texas prisons’ medical providers approved dentures to just 71 inmates – out of 149,000 – in 2016.
- Fifteen years ago more than 1,000 inmates were approved for dental prosthetics.
- Texas has strict guidelines on who can receive dental prosthetics, saying only inmates who are underweight or suffering from other medical complications can get dentures.
Texas prison inmates are routinely denied dentures because officials say chewing isn’t a medical necessity, according to an report by the Houston Chronicle.
Texas prisons’ medical providers approved dentures to just 71 inmates of more than 149,000 in 2016 – far less than 15 years ago, when more than 1,000 were approved.
Due to a policy change in 2003, Texas has strict guidelines on who can receive dental prosthetics, saying only inmates who are underweight or suffering from other medical complications can get dentures.
The policy recommends that inmates with less than seven teeth be considered, but most need other medical issues to be approved for dentures.
“Ultimately, it is a medical decision,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jeremy Desel told the Houston Chronicle.
Many inmates who don’t have enough teeth to eat solid food are given blended meals every day.
Some soak their food in milk or coffee before eating it, while others complain about bleeding gums and being unable to eat.
Inmates told the Chronicle that some of them had their teeth pulled with the promise of dentures, but the dental prosthetics were never provided.
There is no plan for a change of policy within the Texas prison system.
“The current dental prosthetic policy was last reviewed in April of last year, and there are no plans for it to be reviewed again in the future,” Desel said earlier this year.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice didn’t immediately return INSIDER’s calls for comment.