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Infection from Cavities

Question:

Two years ago my son had eight cavities in the back of his mouth. We were referred by his dentist to see a pediatric dentist who would put him to sleep in order to fill the cavities. However, I never followed up with the referral. Today, I had to take my son back to the referring dentist because he has a severe infection in one of the teeth that never got filled. The dentist removed the tooth and put him on antibiotics, but told me he could report me to child services for child neglect and abuse. Is this true?

Answer:

Your situation raises both legal and ethical concerns for a dentist. While each state has different definitions of what constitutes abuse and neglect, by law, your dentist may have a legal obligation to report the course of events to the state agency. The preferred course of action is to have the dentist explain to you the health consequences of not getting your son treatment and have you do what is best for your son without the intervention of child services.