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Is overtreatment an epidemic?

Imagine this.

You have a 14-month-old girl. You take her to the dentist to get some work done on her teeth. Specifically, you take her to get two cavities filled. But when you arrive, the dentist informs you that your baby girl actually needs four crowns, in addition to the two fillings. “Okay,” you think, “he’s the dentist.” So they take your baby for surgery. They administer anesthesia so they can perform the four root canals. But there are “complications.” She goes into cardiac arrest during the procedure. Two hours later, your 14-month-old girl dies at the hospital. And this was just a dentist appointment.

“No way,” you say. “That must be made-up. It’s too incredible.” As hard and painful as it is to believe, it’s actually happened [citation]. The most difficult part of this story hasn’t even come up yet. Here’s what really takes the cake.

Following this tragedy, guess what the debate is about? Whether your 14-month-old baby girl even needed that dental work in the first place.

Would you have stopped and asked yourself that question? Did she need that procedure?

So, not only have you lost your child, but it’s possible that it was for no legitimate reason, at all.

It’s tragic enough for a child to die. It’s bizarre for a child to die because of surgery at the dentist’s office. But the worst part of it is there’s a question as to whether the procedure itself was necessary.

Imagine that. Suffering the terrible loss. And then, after the fact, asking whether that procedure was even needed in the first place. Was all of it for nothing? Could this terrible situation have been avoided? Was all of this simply because a dentist took advantage of a mother’s trust?

The Biggest Problem

Perhaps the biggest problem in the dental industry is unnecessary dental work. It’s also commonly referred to as “overtreatment.” It’s treatment, of whatever kind, that the dental patient simply does not need.

It’s such a common occurrence that it seems some lawyers could have a special practice in exclusively representing groups of families that have been pressured by pediatric dentists into unnecessary dental work. Not merely hundreds, but thousands of children have been represented. Not just hundreds-of-thousands, but tens-of-millions of dollars have been paid out in case settlements. [cite]

Now, as complicated and as difficult of an issue as that is, it’s made even more so if the patient is a minor. The object of overtreatment could be your child.

Children are probably not asked for their opinion when it comes to dental procedure. They are children, after all. In addition to being an adult, the dentist is supposed to be the authority on what needs to be done. He holds a position of trust. Why would a child question what’s happening? Why would a child ever consider that a dentist would take advantage?

And why would you, dear parent? Naturally, you believe what a dentist tells you your child needs! You want to do everything you can to take care of your children. And it’s this very vulnerability that makes overtreatment so terrible.

Here are some examples of dental overtreatment that have made the news:

  • Pulling eight teeth from a 6-year-old
  • Crowning 16 teeth of a 3-year-old
  • Using anesthesia on a 4-year-old on the autism spectrum, leading to his death
  • Strapping a child to a papoose board (the cross-shaped board with straps)
  • Overmedicating a 30-pound child, rendering her unresponsive and on a feeding tube

Understand that these are the most extreme cases of overtreatment that have gained attention. Unnecessary dental work won’t necessarily be that over-the-top. Obviously, overtreament doesn’t always lead to children’s death. But in some cases, it does. In many cases, it causes pain and trauma. In all cases, overtreatment is going to cost.

As a parent, you are rightly concerned for the oral health of your child. And now, you are rightly concerned for your child being treated properly at the dentist’s office. You want your child to have the best treatment that she needs. Not what will be most profitable for the dentist, not what will be billed to insurance, not the most aggressive approach to “possible problem areas” in the mouth. No, you want to make sure your child has dental treatment that is necessary.

The deeper question is: how can you know what dental work is unnecessary?

Here at the American Dental Foundation, you can learn more that will help you protect your children in the dentist’s chair.

Is your child being overtreated? Are you being told that your child needs an excessive amount of dental work? Come join the conversation with other like-minded parents at our Facebook page.

Why should you trust or listen to us? We are a unique and to our knowledge the only national children’s dental foundation of our kind. We are a 501(c)(3), a non-profit, run exclusively by the parents, for the benefit of the children. That means that all those motivations that lead some dentists to conduct unnecessary dental work will never enter the equation, here. Our desire is that you will be able to make informed, accurate decisions, for the good of your children.

For more valuable information, give us your best email address to receive free, no obligation videos to protect and care for your children. Go to (if you have not already) USACDF.info

Future Articles:

  • 2 Steps to Get Your Child Flossing
  • Ask the Dentist to Explain
  • Who Owns Your Pediatric Dentist?
  • Don’t Lie to the Dentist
  • Children’s dental disease connection with Respiratory Disease
  • Children’s dental disease connection with Heart Disease
  • Children’s dental disease connection with Osteoporosis
  • Mom’s dental disease connection with premature birth

If you have concerns, from how to find a dentist, how to know when to get a second opinion, how dental disease affects your children’s health, please submit a request via comment or email.

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