Health officials in Orange County reported 30 cases of antibiotic-resistant infections in kids treated at Children’s Dental Group in Anaheim, California.
All of the victims are between 3 and 9 years old who had a pulpotomy, also known as a “baby root canal,” between March and July 2016. About 850 kids were exposed during that time-period.
The infections were caused by Mycobacterium abscessus, a bacteria that is very hard to treat with antibiotics. Instead, surgery is usually necessary to remove infected tissues and bones. One 7 year-old girl required surgery to remove “three permanent teeth, a baby tooth, and part of her jaw bone.”
Mycobacterium can grow in stagnant water in the flexible plastic tubes that dentists use to rinse out a patient’s mouth. The bacteria may have been trapped inside the tooth when it was capped.
Last year, 20 children were hospitalized with Mycobacterium infections and 1,386 were exposed after undergoing pulpotomies at a dentist in Georgia. Investigators said the water supply to the building was not contaminated. Instead, infections were traced to the dental unit water lines.
As if that were not scary enough, here are some actual photos of bacteria colonies in dental unit water lines courtesy of Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) Magazine…