A dentist who has been battling tooth decay for decades is trying to get some of his children’s teeth brushed.
The family dentist in Lakeland, Florida, has been fighting tooth decay since the 1980s, and he said he’s not sure how long he’ll keep fighting.
But the dentist, who has had a child dentist since 1988, said he doesn’t want the fight to be about him.
Dental office workers have noticed a decline in children’s dental work and a drop in revenue, and they’ve become concerned about the cost of toothbrushing and cleaning.
But dentist Dr. Michael K. Rinaldi wants to change that.
The former president of the Florida Dental Association said he is working to help families in need.
“I want to give a voice to the families that are facing these issues, and I want to tell the parents that this is not something they should have to fight and fight to have their children’s health taken care of,” Rinaldic said.
He said the state dental association’s annual convention is on Thursday.
Dentists said they were working hard to keep up with the demand.
“It’s a tough market,” said Rinaldanis’ wife, Michelle.
“The dental industry is shrinking.
So the demand for dentists has increased.
It’s tough, but we’ve had some good years.”
She said she believes the decline in the industry is a result of the recession.
“We have the lowest revenue we’ve ever had,” she said.
“But we’ve also had the lowest dentists, so we’ve been able to get by.”
But, she said, she worries about losing the money her family earns.
“How are we going to make that money?
How are we ever going to have dental work?” she said she said with a chuckle.
“And I don’t want to see them losing that money.”
Dentist Rinalda has a waiting list of nearly 600 patients.
He and his wife are working to raise money to get children their dental work done, but he’s worried about how long it will take for his business to rebound.
“If we can get through the year, and then I can take the money and go out and do the work, I can make that dentistry, and we can start getting it back to where we were before,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure that’s our goal.”
Dental work, like many professions, can be expensive.
Rinaldis said the cost can be more than $300,000 for a full-time dental assistant.
And the cost depends on many factors.
“There are other people who don’t have dental insurance that need it,” he explained.
“The cost of the cleaning, of the brushing, of what they get paid, they can go to a dental plan that covers that, or they can use the dental insurance they have.”
The dental insurance will cover about 85 percent of the cost, he said, and that’s only if you’re working for a private practice.
So for a dental assistant who does it full time, he estimates that dental insurance is about $400 a year.
But for someone who works part time, like Rinaldinis, the costs add up.
He hopes to raise $1 million to cover the cost.
“Because you’re in a business where you’re making money and you’re taking care of your customers, it’s hard to see your costs come down,” he told ABC News.
Rentaldis, who is from Orlando, said the business could be worth $200,000 a year, but that’s based on the current prices.
“At the moment, it makes me sick to my stomach,” he added.
The dentist said he plans to hire more staff in the coming months to help fill the gap.ABC News’ Dan Furlong contributed to this report.