Texas prisons often deny dentures to inmates with no teeth

HOUSTON (AP) — Inmates without teeth in Texas are routinely denied dentures because state prison policy says chewing isn’t a medical necessity and that they can eat blended food.

The Houston Chronicle reports that medical providers approved 71 dentures to a state prison population of more than 149,000 in 2016. It’s a sharp decline from 15 years ago, when more than 1,000 dental prosthetics were approved.

Many inmates are elderly, have a history of drug use or came from impoverished backgrounds with sub-par dental care.

State policy says inmates can’t get dentures unless they’re underweight or suffering from other medical complications.

Death row inmate Paul Devoe soaks crackers in coffee to eat them with his three remaining teeth. Devoe and other inmates have complained about bleeding gums, sore mouths, choking and being unable to eat.

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