Cummings Acknowledges Sixth Anniversary of Deamonte Driver’s Death

February 27, 2013
Press Release


Death of twelve-year-old boy inspired statewide pediatric dental reforms

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings issued the following statement commemorating the sixth anniversary of the death of Deamonte Driver, a 12-year old Maryland boy who died after a tooth infection spread to his brain:

“My heart is heavy today, as it is every year at this time.  The senseless loss of such a beautiful child, who had his entire life ahead of him – a life full of possibilities – saddens and angers me.  While the knowledge that an $80 procedure could have spared Deamonte’s  life is discouraging, perhaps what is most disheartening is the fact that Deamonte’s story is not unlike the story of so many others – families overlooked and forgotten simply because of where they live and their socioeconomic status.  This is unacceptable,” Cummings said.  “I am humbled, however, that God has turned the pain of Deamonte’s death into a passion. There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not grateful that I can use my platform to help families like Deamonte’s who cannot help themselves.  I will continue to work to expand access to quality, affordable dental care for all Americans to honor Deamonte – the life he lived, and the future we never got to see.”

Deamonte Driver’s death sparked a number of sweeping dental reforms in Maryland to address the state’s dental access crisis.

“Since the loss of Deamonte Driver, the development of the Maryland Oral Health Plan: 2011 – 2015 and the launch of the Healthy Teeth/Healthy Kids oral health literacy campaign - created using funds obtained by Maryland’s congressional delegation - have given focus and support to the great work of the many partners statewide who are continuing the progress that began after this tragic event,” said Penny Anderson, executive director of the Maryland Dental Action Coalition.  “In Maryland, there remains a passion around this issue. However, while we have made great progress, there are still improvements to be made, particularly regarding care for adults.”  

In 2007, Governor Martin O’Malley prioritized support for community-based oral health grants annually by creating the Oral Health Safety Net Program to expand the oral health capacity for low-income, disabled, and Medicaid populations.  As a result, Marylanders in every county now have access to a public health dental clinic that is located within or serves their jurisdiction.