City News Service

Children Contract Bacterial Infection After Dental Procedure at Anaheim Clinic

At least eight children who underwent the same dental procedure at an Anaheim clinic contracted serious bacterial infections requiring hospitalization, and the number was expected to grow, officials said Tuesday. 

Health officials have set about contacting the parents of about 500 other children who have also been treated at the clinic, according to The Orange County Register, which reported that all of the hospitalized children underwent pulpotomies -- root canal-type procedures done on baby teeth -- at Children's Dental Group since May 3.

Ramon Amador said no one should go through what his daughter went through.

She spent months in the hospital and weeks later is still receiving daily antibiotics intravenously. 

"I feel angry. We call here and nobody here wants to help," Amador said.

Amador says his 4-year-old daughter Nairi had three teeth surgically removed at the Children's Dental Group, then months later, got an infection that led to bacterial pneumonia.

"It's a slow growing bacteria so sometimes it takes a couple months for the organism to cause problems like an abscess," Dr. Eric Handler of the OC Health Care Agency said. "So that's the reason we're looking at such a long period of time."

She underwent four surgeries to remove an abscess under her chin.

The clinic stopped performing the procedure last week, the Orange County Health Care Agency said.

"We follow industry standard sterilization and preventative practices and have looked closely at these, as well as reviewing our practices with the Orange County Health Agency,'' Sam Gruenbaum, CEO of the Children's Dental Group, told the newspaper. "We care deeply about out patients and are doing everything we can to resolve this."

Jessica Vasquez says her 8-year-old son had to be treated at a hospital. His mouth was swollen and he had bruises on his cheeks.

"This is something that could be life threatening if it spread to the brain. I'm not going to bring my child here," Vasquez said.

The state dental board has joined the investigation.

For patients who have concerns that unnecessary dental work may have been performed, the California Department of Consumer Affairs said they can contact the Dental Board and file a complaint.

NBC4's Vikki Vargas contributed to this report.

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