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Parents of 6-Year-Old With Serious Infection From 14 Abscessed Teeth Charged

Most cases of childhood tooth decay are not this severe but experts say even moderate instances can have devastating health effects on children.

Kenneth Wanamaker Jr. and Jessica Hoffman of Lehigh Township
Kenneth Wanamaker Jr. and Jessica Hoffman of Lehigh Township

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.
Tracy Shantz June 27, 2014 at 03:57 PM
For any Phoenixville Area parents who don't have dental insurance for their children and can't afford routine care, please give Health Care Access a call at 610-935-3165-we can help get your children dental care right in your neighborhood.
Cari Geld June 28, 2014 at 01:25 AM
She could have Wilson's disease. They need to check for copper level in her blood. This is a rare and very serious disease. It's a genetic mutation that is being linked to Agent Orange exposure. It makes it so you can't process copper. You end up with copper toxicity. This damages the liver, heart, brain, teeth, ect... It's unthinkable that her parents wouldn't take her to the dentist but for her teeth to be that bad in the first place, she must have a gum disease. http://omicsonline.org/unusual-enamel-hypoplasia-associated-with-teeth-mobility-in-a-13-year-old-girl-with-wilson-disease-2157-7412.1000118.pdf
Patricia Found Clark June 29, 2014 at 10:59 AM
In the case you are referring to "She was diagnosed as WD under the basis that she has a neurological affection including movement disorders represented by poor coordination, loss of fine- motor control, cramped handwriting. Rigid dystonia represented by rigidity and gait disturbance. Pseudobulbar symptoms represented by dysarthria, drooling, and difficulty in swallowing. Psychiatric affection showed depression, aggressive/anti-social behavior and emotional liability. Kaysere-Fleischer rings are apparent by direct visual examination." The child in the case of the parents being charged was 6 years old and did not have the other symptoms of WD. The other was 13 and had most of her permanent dentition which were able to be restored or replaced with bridgework. The 6 year old needed removable appliances to replace her extracted teeth. big difference wearing these, versus permanent non-removable restorations. Reading the facts and research before posting unrelated information is much more helpful to the people reading this. Just saying.
Heidi July 06, 2014 at 08:08 AM
I feel so bad for this little girl, they did in an article take her to a dentist I will give credit for that but did not follow up for months later leading to this problem. Which then makes it their fault! There is free dental care for children not adults period so they can't use that as an excuse! There is also free transportation still no excuse. And someone posted before about them looking like drug addicts well looks can be deceiving as I am a very tiny girl born that way and people accuse me of not eating & I can out eat many men I know! We are all different but in this case sorry they do look like drug addicts & the father looks scary as all he!! It is just sad anymore if I could turn back the clock to when things were so different I would!

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