A Pennsylvania couple is facing criminal charges for allowing their daughter to suffer from what one dentist called the worst case of dental disease he had ever seen.
Kenneth Wanamaker Jr. and Jessica Hoffman of Lehigh Township were charged with endangering the welfare of a child this week for failing to get dental care for their 6-year-old, who had more than a dozen abscessed teeth, the Allentown Morning Call reported.
The girl was supposed to have surgery for severe tooth decay in March but her parents did not take her, according to the Morning Call. The infection became so bad that the girl could have died, a dentist told the publication.
The girl had just four teeth that were unaffected by the decay and authorities said she would need a special device because of the extent of damage. Her doctor, Eugene McGuire, told the Morning Call he last saw the girl in February. "There was enough dental disease to kill the girl," he told the publication.
Most cases of childhood tooth decay are not this severe but experts say even moderate instances can have devastating health effects on children.
According to the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood illness.
"When left untreated, childhood tooth decay can have devastating consequences that extend beyond the dental chair. Rampant decay can negatively impact a child's overall quality of life, inhibit their cognitive and social development and compromise their growth, function and self esteem," according to the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation.Pediatric dental disease can lead to malnourishment, bacterial infections, emergency surgery and even death. Plus, dental disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and dementia.