Valley mom questions dental procedure

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by Gary Harper

Bio | Email | Follow: @GaryHarper3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 15 at 2:43 PM

PHOENIX -- A Valley mom took her daughter in for some routine dental work, but the mom said there was nothing routine about the procedure.

At first, Alecia White thought a mistake had been made so she tried to get some answers. When White didn't, she contacted 3 On Your Side.

White has two beautiful and healthy children, Zach and his little sister Savannah.

"They're my everything," she said. "They're my entire world."

On a recent trip to the dentist, White discovered that little Savannah had four cavities. So, White allowed the dentist to fill them.
 
"They took her back and I was allowed to go back when they sedated her and after she was sedated, they had me go back out to the waiting room," White said.

White brought her groggy, little girl home when the procedure was done and let her take a nap. However, when Savannah woke up and White looked in her mouth, she saw that every single tooth, top and bottom, were capped with stainless-steel crowns.

"I didn't expect for her entire mouth to be covered in silver," White said. "We went in to have a couple of cavities done and she came out with a mouth full of silver."

White said not only were she and her husband mortified, but so was 4-year-old Savannah.

"On a daily basis she says, 'Mommy, I don't like my teeth. I don't like my teeth,'" White said. "And it's really kind of hard to hear every single day."

White wanted to know if a mouth full of stainless-steel crowns is normal for a child. So, 3 On Your Side consulted Dr. Richard Chaet, who's been in dentistry for more than 30 years.
 
Chaet is the former president of the Arizona Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and was responsible for writing guidelines for pediatric dentists across the nation. He's never met Savannah, but agreed to look at some photographs we provided.

"I did say 'wow' because she did have a lot of silver caps on her teeth," Chaet said.

Chaet claimed that although it looks bizarre, all of those caps were necessary to fill Savannah's cavities and to save other teeth that were probably deteriorating.
 
"This is a child who is obviously very high risk for decay," Chaet said.

He went on to say that some dentists probably would have gone a step further by putting on white veneers to cover a lot of those silver caps even if the patient couldn't afford it. Chaet said a lot of dentists would have done it free of charge because children are sensitive about how they feel and look.

And that's exactly what happened to Savannah. Another dentist who actually saw Savannah's teeth offered to put on those veneers free of charge.
 
White said her daughter looks a lot better, but said it's been a learning process.

"I just want people to be aware of what happened and what's going on out there," White said.

Chaet said two things apparently happened here. First, he said there needed to be better communication between the dentist and White. Chaet said the dentist might have done a better job at explaining the situation and White could have asked more questions. Chaet said parents should always ask several questions before any procedure is performed to make sure they fully understand.

Chaet also said this is a good reminder to take your child to the dentist as early as their first or second birthday so proper dental care can begin. Appointments early in a child's life not only benefits kids, but it allows dentists time to discuss sugary drinks like juices that parents frequently put in bottles and use over time.

Good oral hygeine and education, he said, will prevent decay and keep stainless-steel caps from having to be used.

 

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