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Health Team

7 children hospitalized after dental procedures in Anaheim

Posted September 14
Updated September 15

— Seven children have been hospitalized and hundreds more may be at risk of a serious infection after receiving treatment at a Southern California dental clinic, officials said.

The Orange County Health Care Agency is contacting the parents of 500 children who also underwent pulpotomies at Children's Dental Group beginning May 3 in Anaheim, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday. The clinic stopped performing the procedure on Sept. 6.

The infected children have developed oral cellulitis — a bacterial infection of the mouth that can spread to the gum and bone. One child tested positive for a different bacteria as well.

All children who had the procedure from May to September are being asked to return for a follow up visit.

Health officials said the infection source has not been confirmed but may be linked to water used during the procedure.

"We think it has to do with the water sources. As to why, we're still investigating that," said Dr. Eric Handler, Orange County's health officer.

In the infected patients, symptoms began 15 days to 85 days after the procedure, which removes infected pulp to prevent tooth loss.

Handler says the risk of infection to the patients currently being contacted is considered low.

The parents of one of the affected children, a 4-year-old Anaheim girl who has been hospitalized for a month with a mycobacterial infection, returned to Children's Dental Group Wednesday to obtain her dental records, the Register reports.

But Ramon Amador, the girl's father, said the clinic refused to hand them over.

"I feel really angry with these people," Amador told the newspaper. "They don't care. They just want to make money."

Amador's daughter, Nairi, went to the clinic for a routine exam in June when she was given a pulpotomy. He said she is currently receiving intravenous antibiotics and may need to continue doing so for two more months.

The Register reports that on the day of the visit, a security guard positioned in front of the dental clinic was declining entry to non-patients. Sam Gruenbaum, chief executive of the chain of dental clinics, did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment Wednesday.

In response to questions Tuesday, Gruenbaum said the company is reviewing its practices alongside county health officials.

"We care deeply about our patients, and are doing everything we can to resolve this," he told the newspaper.

Nine children were hospitalized earlier this year in Georgia with infections after undergoing pulpotomies and an investigation there tied the outbreak to contaminated water.

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