Kucinich’s den­tal mis­for­tunes laid bare

He de­tails to sup­port­ers how an er­rant olive pit prompted a law­suit

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY PHILIP RUCKER ruck­erp@wash­post.com

Heard the tale of the ve­gan and the olive pit?

A man bites into a sandwich wrap and his tooth splits in half, be­low the crown and to the bone. An un­pit­ted olive did the dam­age. The tooth be­comes in­fected; the man has an ad­verse re­ac­tion to his an­tibi­otics, and emer­gency med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion is or­dered.

Six re­place­ment teeth later, the man sues the sandwich maker for $150,000 in pain, suf­fer­ing and “ loss of en­joy­ment” — the Amer­i­can way.

Here’s the twist: The man is the most fa­mous ve­gan on Capi­tol Hill, two-time pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Rep. Den­nis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio). And the sandwich maker is the base­ment cafe­te­ria of the Long­worth House Of­fice Build­ing.

Kucinich’s three-year jour­ney to the olive pit-oral surgery abyss and back ended Fri­day af­ter­noon with one of the more bizarre letters to cam­paign sup­port­ers in mod­ern Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.

The sub­ject line: “Re­gard­ing Set­tle­ment of Den­tal In­jury Law Suit.”

Kucinich wrote that af­ter fil­ing suit this month over the April 2008 in­ci­dent, he had set­tled with the cafe­te­ria op­er­a­tor, Res­tau­rant As­so­ci­ates, for the outof-pocket ex­penses of his surg­eries (there were three). He said the terms are con­fi­den­tial.

That’s about the only part of this story that the 64-year-old con­gress­man and one­time Cleve­land mayor kept con­fi­den­tial.

“When I bit into the olive pit, [un­be­known to me at the time], upon im­pact the tooth split in half, ver­ti­cally through the crown and the tooth, be­low the level of the bone,” Kucinich wrote in his e-mail to sup­port­ers. “Ex­ter­nally there was no ev­i­dence of a break. This was not about aes­thet­ics. The in­ter­nal struc­ture of the tooth was ren­dered non­restorable. Al­though the pain was ex­cru­ci­at­ing, I shook it off and I went right back to work.

“ This tooth is a key tooth which an­chored my up­per bridge­work. The in­jured tooth and the bone above it be­came in­fected. I took a course of an­tibi­otics for the in­fec­tion, had an ad­verse re­ac­tion to the an­tibi­otics which caused me to have an in­testi­nal ob­struc­tion and emer­gency med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion.”

Kucinich kept go­ing: “Later, my den­tist re­ferred me to a spe­cial­ist who in­formed me that the dam­aged tooth had to be re­moved. A third den­tist re­moved the tooth and I was fit­ted for a tem­po­rary par­tial. I waited for the bone to heal.”

And go­ing: “An im­plant was placed, but it failed. Many months later still a sec­ond im­plant suc­ceeded. My bridge­work had to be com­pletely re­con­fig­ured, a new par­tial was de­signed, so this in­jury did not af­fect only one tooth, but rather in­volved six (6) re­place­ment teeth as well. A new crown with a new pre­ci­sion at­tach­ment was en­gi­neered and put in place.”

And go­ing: “ To clar­ify, no den­tal ex­penses were cov­ered by any health plan, nor did I have den­tal in­surance that cov­ered the in­jury, which, un­til it was re­solved, af­fected my abil­ity to chew food prop­erly.”

Kucinich — whom his of­fi­cial Web site refers to as “Amer­ica’s Most Coura­geous Con­gress­man” — ended his 534-word diary en­try to sup­port­ers not with a plea for cam­paign do­na­tions but with a sim­ple quip.

“I don’t want to have to make an­other den­tal visit for a very long time,” he wrote, “and will be mak­ing no fur­ther com­ment on this mat­ter.

“ Thank you very much,” he signed it. “Den­nis.”

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