Manage episode 243747997 series 2540386
From early childhood, Deann Merchant longed to share her voice and music. But as you will hear Deann explain, it was a way to escape the neglect and abuse. Neglect that left her mostly toothless by age 16.
As an adult, her musical passion would only be defeated by her lack of a toothy smile. She hid from the world.
But Deann was determined to pursue her passion and she re-mortgaged her house to finance the implant of dentures that would physically allow her to sing, and emotionally free her to perform in public.
Deann was fulfilling her life long dream and sharing her voice and music. She was the happiest she’d ever been.
But then her dentures started to fail, and the nightmare of losing her ability to sing, and confidence to appear in public, vanished.
That loss was compounded by 2 things: metal poisoning as the dental restoration leaked toxic elements into her body, and a dental industry without oversight or accountability.
Deann shares how she’s evolved to be an advocate for people harmed by the dental industry.
Born Musician0:05:10 Deann grew up in Massachusetts but her childhood was not stellar, she is an abuse and neglect survivor, this is important to her story because the abuse and neglect caused her to lose her teeth at 16 - she had a challenging and dysfunctional family 0:06:10 At 3 years old, Deann is on a bar room floor eating coke and chips - at 6 years old she was viciously abused for an undiagnosed physical ailment - at 9 years she watched her mother throwing a knife across a room - at 11 years Deann got tuberculosis because her father was dying in the house - and at 16 years old she lost her teeth 0:06:55 But underneath all that, Deann knew she had a voice and something to offer - music and singing - and that allowed her to survive - her family did not seek medical treatment or dental treatment 0:07:40 At 15 Deann got an abscess and the school finally stepped in and said Deann needs major dental work and it has to be addressed - but it was too late and too expensive to save them, so that had to be removed, except for bottom six 0:08:10 But because it was done to Deann before she had finished growing, it caused her upper jaw to atrophy immediately - over the years Deann became 'indentalist' / toothless because of the atrophy 0:09:10 This caused Deann to feel insecure - Deann has no doubt that had she been born into a loving and accepting family, she would have been on stage singing - but Deann's mother didn't want boys, girls were nothing to her, Deann was insignificant and a burden - this is set Deann up for adulthood in a really bad way 0:10:10 It made Deann hide with embarrassment and pain that she would be judged and couldn't do her craft of singing - all singers need teeth, saliva and all functioning - as Deann looks back, it looks like her mother knew singing and music was Deann passion and made it her sole purpose that Deann would never achieve that 0:11:40 Deann ended up with an upper denture and her 6 lower teeth - over the years because Deann couldn't use her molars to chew, she had to use her front and that caused her upper jaw to wear down, so that an upper denture couldn't be affixed Going After Her Dreams 0:12:40 Because her upper denture was not properly modeled, it caused a lot of wear and tear on her gums over 27 years 0:13:40 Deann got married as a teenager, a mistake as she had no social and life skills to make a good decision - she grew up only hearing how stupid she was, how ugly, don't smile, don't talk, keep your head down, use your back because you don't have any brains - so when someone paid her positive attention, she was attracted to him 0:15:10 Her marriage lasted 10 years, but he was physically abusive, broke her dentures, black eyes, etc - but she had 3 boys and didn't want them to see or live in that same situation she grew up in - Deann had to escape the home to escape a death by her husband 0:17:10 Deann then met a man who changed her life - she credits him with supporting her to be the person she is today - he believed in her, encouraged her, positive reinforcement and encouraged her to pursue her passion for music, so they look into dental restoration in 2001 / 02 0:18:40 A dentist tried to take bone from her chin to use to reconstruct her upper jaw - but he was not prepared for such a severe case and it failed - Deann found another surgeon who said bone must be harvested from her hip so they could get enough for her jaw to support dental restoration 0:19:40 3 days in the hospital and Deann got 6 implants on the top and 3 implants on the bottom and everything went great, no problem - but then she goes to a prostodontist (specializes in bones of the face) 0:21:00 The prostotontist makes an overdenture (attachs to the implants) but Deann struggles to get it on and when she does it immediately feels like a vise grip causing pain - and it has remained that way for the last 14 years, causing constant pain 0:22:40 But at that time, Deann considered the dentures to be her second chance at life, at singing, the thing she'd been waiting her entire life and to have a functioning smile - so she ignored the pain and the prostodontist said there was no problem 0:23:30 9 years after the dental restoration, Deann realized her dentures were 'over loaded' causing biomechanical complications leading to implant failure 0:25:30 Deann has documented this on her website - she was experiencing a rash on her face, experiencing a metallic taste, throat burning and throbbing - she told the prostodontist that it felt like a vise grip on her face, but he said that her dentures fit - Deann fully trusted and bought into what he was saying - but she was still losing bone and tissue at an alarming rate and he did not pick up on that 0:26:40 Deann recognized a pattern among dentists is they always turn a problem around and blame the patient - one good thing about Deann's story is that she has proof 0:27:30 For the procedure, they make a model of the patients' mouth - and while the dentures fit the model perfectly, they had to be forced onto Deann's mouth - that should have been a red flag to the prostodontist but he ignored it - properly fitting dentures should feel like nothing 0:29:10 The prostodontist played on Deann's insecurity, blaming her - 2 things happened: a mis-installment, and the lab owner substituted material with chromium cobalt, poisoning Deann 0:30:40 Year after year, Deann complained about the dental restoration and they would make small adjustment to appease her - they kept telling her there was nothing wrong and that it must be her, and she believed them - but year after year she's getting sicker with fatigue, rashes, problems with her tattoos 28 years after she got them, digestive issues making her feel poisoned after she eats. 0:31:50 Deann hasn't been to a restaurant in 10 years, she can only eat once a day and needs to smoke marijuana to stimulate her appetitite and soften other symptoms - if she didn't take marijuana before she ate, she would start slurring her words, have trouble understanding others - the less she eats, the better she feels 0:32:50 Deann's research she finds a German researcher who says that swallowing the poisons from her dentures for many years causes digestive problems - only recently has the public become aware of the effects of cobalt, aluminum in the body 0:34:10 Nobody knows about metal poisoning, the US medical system doesn't have a lot of info about it and Deann couldn't find help - in November 2014 Deann had given up and was going to kill herself - she was a burden, she couldn't sing, she didn't know why she was sick - Deann also has MS (Multiple Sclerosis), diagnosed on her bladder and bowel issues and lesions in her brain Cobalt Poisoning 0:35:20 Deann says important to know she was a heavy diet coke drinker and the nutrasweet can cause brain lesions - they prostodonist would use Deann's MS diagnosis as the cause of her symptoms, but the neurologist said her symptoms of metallic taste, rash, her hands would swell and get red if she touched metal 0:35:40 Deann then sees an allergist in Rhode Island and after examining Deann he said he's never seen a case like hers and didn't know if he could help her - Deann broke down crying, saying to him that he was her last hope and she can't continue - the allergist said that if this all started after dental work, has any one tested you for metals? 0:37:20 Testing showed cobalt - glowing like a nuclear reactor - in Deann's system - she then went to Dr Shalock in New York (who was working with the directors of the documentary, The Bleeding Edge) - Deann finds out she's also allergic to gold and tin - Deann goes to the lab that made her dentures with her allergy results 0:38:45 The lab gives Deann a copy of the chemical certificate for part of her denture - during this time she fired the prostodontist for working against her and poor work as he had messed Deann up so much she had trouble eating and speaking - this went on for 10 months 0:40:10 Deann started working directly with the lab owner fixed her lisp - Deann's musical career was taking off, but her dental work was preventing her from singing, from fulfilling her life's dream 0:41:10 The lab then used a 'system' and polyurethane to try to hold the denture in place - he told Deann he believed in the 'system' - but he lied, he'd sold the machine that made her prosthetic denture 0:42:10 Deann had audio taped some of her appointments, so she has evidence of what he said - she arranged a meeting with the lab owner - Deann brought her friend a nurse to the meeting - the lab owner accuses Deann of trying to hurt his reputation - Deann replied that he had watched her suffer and her health decline for 9 years, and that he only cared about himself 0:43:40 The lab owner said, 'good luck trying to convince the public, nobody is going to believe you' - in the following 4 years Deann lost her friends, her family turned on her and she has nobody to correct her mouth - he didn't just screw up her mouth, he screwed up her entire life 0:45:40 Deann couldn't find any help - not even her AG (Attorney General) - Deann filed a complaint with the Dental Board, supplying video and audio and witness statements, but she never got a reply - the lab owner refused to give Deann her file, told her to tell her attorney to request it Re-mortgaging Her House 0:47:00 Deann makes a phone appointment with Harvard Dental School - Deann told the Harvard specialist that she was in a bind - Deann had re-mortgaged her house to pay for the $68,000 dental restoration but she's smileless, has to eat baby food, she's sick and struggles to eat and cognitively function - the only reason she is lucid for our interview is because she took medication 0:49:25 Deann's situation was completely avoidable: if the lab had not substituted metal in making the denture, and if the prostodontist had of listened to Deann about the denture not fitting and causing pain, we wouldn't be having this conversation - what really irks Deann is there is no oversight, they can do anything they want 0:50:10 Unless you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, you'll lose in court - and they will sue you - Deann can still be sued, and Deann cannot afford to be sued - she has audio and video evidence to prove her case beyond a shadow of a doubt, and she can't tell her story - she lives in fear and doing this podcast is a risk for her - she'd love to name names, but it would open her to attack 0:52:10 Dentist can jump into specialties without any real training - whatever will give them the most financial gain - originally only surgeons put in dentures, now dentists can take a course - they don't have to tell patients about their training - they love people who are uneducated 0:54:10 One of the 42 attorney's Deann contacted to take her case advised her to record her dental appointments - it is legal and admissable in court in Rhode Island - Deann has audio evidence of admission of knowledge of metals and improper fit - she has audio of admission that the way they decide what metals to use in dentures depends what is cheapest on the market that day 0:55:20 While the prostodontist advertised using all titanium and not precious metals because they are a nightmare - Deann is living that nightmare - Deann has a 5 year old granddaughter who wants to be a performer like her grandmother, but Deann can't visit with her because she's too sick 0:56:40 Deann asks: Is if fair they re-mortaged their home in good faith, while they're enjoying the fruits of their deceitful behavior - Deann hopes that if listeners get nothing else from her story, that they should be their own advocate - Deann went from working out 6 days a week, rode motorcycles, hiking, and now she can't get off the couch 0:58:10 Deann whole system is being poisoned - lungs, stomach, mucus and they think cobalt goes into her organs - her immune system is overwhelmed and she can't fight any viruses and susceptible to everything going around - doctors think her glands in her throat have been poisoned - she has chronically dry mouth Dental Deception 1:01:10 She has to keep her conversations short - and has to hold the phone away from her ear - Deann tells patients to make sure to eliminate and rule out other diagnosis 1:02:40 Re Harvard, she was told to call the prostodontist secretary to make an appointment - Deann calls and emails but receives no response - so Deann ends arranging treatment in Costa Rica 1:05:10 Then she gets an email saying they can't do the procedure, try other dentists in Costa Rica - Deann asks for an explanation - they say how dare she record professionals and put it on the internet - Deann later found out that dentist worked for an American company 1:07:10 When she was first diagnosed with metal poisoning, it was hard for Deann to accept that ADA (American Dental Association) approved device would cause harm - know she understands they are just labels that don't mean anything because there is no oversight 1:08:40 How many labs are doing this to people like Deann, going to specialists to try to find out why they're sick - she got called a hypochondriac - Deann fell through the health care cracks as a child and its happening again 1:11:10 This is more than Deann's smile - she worries if she'll get cancer - and she'll have to pay out of pocket again to get her mouth fixed, to correct the damage they made - a bitter pill to swallow 1:12:10 Deann has become an advocate - she hates injustice - she started just telling her story on her website, but was finding others with dental errors - Deann found Tina Gomes, already a dental advocate and about transparency when dentists err, as the public has a right to know - 10 years later she's still fighting for that 1:13:10 Deann found a video of a dentist who was doing to surprise his client with a new smile - no permission, no informed consent - the client cried with joy - Deann thought the dentist was incredible, what he was doing for people...but something didn't feel right, so she investigated and found he was reprimanded by the dental board for selling prescription drugs 1:14:40 Deann then found a video of him being interviewed about his dental business, but Deann could see the host, a dentist, was uncomfortable with the answers he was getting - they were hyperbolic 1:16:10 The research in the last few years all say there needs to be more study of long term effects - so dental professionals who claim their dentures will last a lifetime - that is not true - Galvanism has been taught in dental school since the '50s Galvanism 1:17:10 They're taught not to mix metals in the mouth, creating Galvanism - any 2 dissimilar metals in a liquid medium, like saliva, is creating current - you are a walking battery - this is what happened to Deann 1:18:10 Public told these devices are safe - the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has received 2.1 million complaints about failed dental restoration - last 10 years peri implantitis has become a major problem - has something to do with substandard metals put in people's mouths - no long term studies 1:19:10 Deann knows a woman who went to a periodontist who said he does dental restoration - Deann told her to ask for the chemical certificate, he says he doesn't have it - Deann advises her to leave, stop giving him money - in an email he said he'd remove one tooth, and no implants 1:20:10 He gives her medication before the procedure that makes her loopy - the periodontist asks her husband to sign the release - she left the procedure still with the tooth that was to be pulled, and with 2 implants - she has a pace maker and is allergic to aluminum - so she has no idea what's in her mouth 1:21:25 Deann advised her to call an attorney, but she was too afraid - Deann's website is WelcomeToDDS.com - Dee's Dental Story - she also has a group for people to share their stories and information - she also has Dee's Dental Disaster page on Facebook - and keeps them updated 1:22:40 But people are afraid to complain because they can be attacked - Deann is willing to stand up and point her finger, but she can't - she shouldn't have to suffer and lose her best friend, her voice, that helped her get through the other bad times by singing or humming to herself - and to loose that, she might as well be dead 1:23:55 Deann's music can be found on SoundCloud under Deann Merchant - also on Reverb Nation - from folk to rock to blues - from Whitney Houston to Janis Joplin - Deann only had 7 years behind the mic, but it was the best 7 years of her life 1:25:10 She created her own music, raised funds for a rescue charity - she has 2 entries on DustMyBroom.nl - the validation by her musical peers that she had something to offer means a lot to Deann 1:26:40 Deann will continue with her advocating, but it is hard for her to keep up with the stories from patients - so she educates so people don't end up like Deann - we're brainwashed to believe only people in white coats know what's going on - others like Tina Gomes, Susan Chenesey and other advocates trying to change things, bring awareness, do the research Becoming An Advocate 1:28:10 Deann's basic premise is to remember Galvanism, that what is placed in your mouth affects your whole body - comparing with organ donation, you need a donor with the same blood type, tissue type, even then require meds to stop organ rejection - but dental industry puts all these alloy together that will increase their profits - no blood levels, no medication, no long term study 1:29:40 Then pain, memory, vision problems - Dr Towers on The Bleeding Edge said that if it didn't happen to him personally, he would never have beleived it - dentists take info from device manufacturer as gospel and put it in your body - what goes in your mouth affects the whole body 1:30:40 Doesn't matter where in the body, hip, knee, toxic materials are released - Deann got involved in the Esure contraceptive controversy - because some of them were having dental problems, rashes on their body 1:31:40 Deann doesn't think metal can be put in a human body and not expect a reaction - no better advocate for a patient then yourself - but the dental professionals say the patient is the problem - so do your due diligence 1:32:55 Deann reads from a government website: "From 1995 these facts have been available but ignored. Overload, rather than component design, is the primary factor in the majority of prosthetic and implant failures. Safegaurding the long term integrity of the restoration, should be a shared responsibility between the patient and the health care team. As orthodentology increases at an exponential rate, it is extremely important to keep abreast of the latest advancements. 1:33:55 Deann advises to make sure they explain dental restoration start to finish - had Deann known and understood what a 'passive system' meant in 2005 she would have made them fix it - but she didn't have informed consent 1:34:30 Understanding Galvanism and how important it is before you go to a dental office so you don't end up like Deann - her website motto is "learn from my mistake - don't become one" 1:35:40 Deann encourages people to visit her website The Empowered Patient - take advantage of the info that is there - take advantage learn about metals and anatomy - and listen to your instinct - don't take dentist words as gospel Connect with Deann Merchant Dental Website: Http://www.WelcometoDDS.com Pages of interest: The Empowered Patient - educational page for patients Share Your Story - The Patients Page - houses patient stories/comments Kindred Journeys - Creative outlet on personal harm (If you use a computer, music will play automatically. I wrote that about our countries despair and had someone else do the vocals, she also added her own lyrics. Angels of Awareness - Children who succumb to a dental procedure Facebook Awareness Group & awareness page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheFlossingofAmericasDentalPatients/ https://www.facebook.com/deesdentaldisaster/ Musical Achievements: My first professional gig a year after stepping up to follow my passion was in 2009. Every project that followed gave me more confidence and nothing seemed out of my reach. https://www.youtube.com/user/natsway/videos?view_as=subscriber Originals & obscure covers Http://www.Soundcloud.com/deann-merchant Leaving a digital footprint for my granddaughter Natalie https://drooble.com/deanne.merchant/music One of the first songs I penned was about rescue animals. A rather 'dark' toned song I was able to use it to raise just over $1000. for the rescue. https://www.amazon.com/Shelter-Helping-Animals-Song-Time/dp/B009NWL0JQ We also did online gigs to raise money, this is one on the Gigee platform https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25JmlOOmFjU This website houses the most complete collection of renditions of Robert Johnson's infamous blues song 'Dust My Broom'. I have 2 renditions, 1 solo slide, and 1 band performance on this page http://www.dustmybroom.nl/2009.html. Actor Steven Seagal is also on that site. Main page: http://www.dustmybroom.nl/ There's also a great article written by Jas Obrecht for anyone interested in the story of the infamous song. Performing The following link is the song I spoke of that was written by famous bluesman, Willie Dickson and sung by Howl'n Wolf. His granddaughter, Tomiko Dixon, had me do her version as a demo. It was my first crack at doing my own thing and transforming into my alter ego, Mama Dee. https://www.reverbnation.com/deannmerchant/song/18609081-piece-of-the-pie The other song I couldn't remember the name of was 'Hallelujuah' that's also on reverb. I became a part of the SESAC family 2013 as songwriter. They are one of three of the major Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) that houses my small repetoire of original music. This link is one of the two WIB's (Women In Blues) promotional video's I was lucky enough to have a sample of my music featured on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfKBz8ddC0k I was also a blues DJ for a few years with an award-winning station http://kconlineradio.com/ and my show was called The Juke Joint (still on fb I believe). They still have me listed in the 'About' section surprisingly, lol. And, I still run my Halloween special on social media every Halloween just for good measure, lol. My partner & I Al Dzeizic won the 1st round in the 2015 Ct. Blues competition for a chance to play at the International Blues Competition in Nashville, TN. Just so happens, that venture got us a spot on 'GrandMa's Attic' on Ct. local TV. Proudest moment ever? Being in the same lineup as John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown band!! And one better? His sax player ended up becoming a personal friend. And standing in front of a captive audience performing my originals (even with a pic line in my strumming arm, lol)? OMG, PRICELESS!! That little girl who dreamed the impossible dream and against the odds, made it happen!! I was able to come full circle despite my mother's best efforts to break me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1A-AZATnVw
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If you are a survivor, a victim’s surviving family member, a health care worker, advocate, or policy maker and have a medical error experience you would like to share, send me an email with a brief description of your experience: RemediesPodcast@gmail.comScott Simpson: Counsellor + Podcast Host + Patient Advocate I am a counsellor, patient advocate, and - before I became sick and disabled - a passionate triathlete. Work hard, train hard, rest hard. Like me, many of my clients at Remedies Counseling have experienced the often devastating effects of medical error. I have been living with HIV since 1998, and thanks to research and medications, it is not a problem in my life. I have been living with ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) since 2012, and thanks in part to medical error, it is a big problem in my life. Need a Counsellor? If you need a counsellor for your experience with medical error, or living with a chronic illness(es), I offer online video counseling appointments. **For my health and life balance, I limit my number of counseling clients.** Email me to find out if I have any counseling appointments open: RemediesOnlineCounseling@gmail.com