HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Earlier this week, a toddler with a tooth problem went to see a Huntsville dentist to get it fixed. His parents say that procedure went terribly wrong, and now the child needs surgery to fix it.
22-month-old Chance Roberson was in no pain. His mother, Monica Roberson, says he had two cavities caused by Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. She scheduled an appointment to have the teeth capped by Children’s Dentistry of Huntsville on October 20th.
Caps are sometimes placed on a small child’s damaged tooth to save the tooth and protect it until permanent teeth growth in.
“There would be light filing, they said, it would just be to remove any decay that they’ve seen and then caps would be placed on it,” Roberson said.
Chance’s father, Donavyn Larry, was in the room with him during the procedure. He says the dentist advised that Chance would need a root canal.
“I hear him say ‘ow, no, ow,’ and me being me, I wanted to say something. but I didn’t. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, it’s a dentist, you know?” Larry said.
Chance’s father says it was painful to watch.
“He’ll file some more teeth down, he’ll start shaking his head, I watched [the filing tool] get the tops of his gums,” he said. “It hurts my heart to see my son go through that. It also hurts my heart because I allowed them to do it, thinking they were professionals.”
During the procedure, Larry said Chance swallowed a silver cap the dentist couldn’t get to stick to the newly filed teeth.
After multiple tries, Roberson claims the staff gave up.
“The dentist kept explaining that they had never done a procedure on a child this small, and they really didn’t know what to do, and mid-through the process they just stopped and said there was nothing they could do and kind of left the room and left my ex-husband in there with him,” she said.
Chance was left with four sharp, shaved front teeth.
“When he came out, his entire mouth was swollen, his face was swollen and we had to take him to the emergency room,” she said.
At the E.R., Roberson said they received the news: Chance’s top four front teeth will likely have to be surgically removed, because they are filed too short to repair.
She said a bridge was recommended to help guide his adult teeth as they come in, in the coming years.
“He’s almost 2 and he’s just now learning how to talk and I’m sure this is going to affect his speech, and he’s going to have to have fake teeth until his normal teeth come in. No child should have to go through that,” Roberson said.
Roberson said she was told after the failed procedure that the doctor attempted it only because her MedicAid insurance would not be accepted somewhere else.
“It wasn’t at their discretion whether they could chance my child’s well-being or not. They even said quote-unquote, ‘well, your insurance wouldn’t cover this elsewhere so we [were] just going to chance it and see if it would work for your benefit,’ and I’m like, nobody told you to try chancing my child’s teeth, my child’s well-being,” she said.
We reached out to Children’s Dentistry to see if they could provide any answers. An administrator declined to go on camera, but did provide a statement.
“We are aware of a Facebook post concerning our office. While we cannot comment specifically on any patient or the treatment they receive, we can confirm that Ms. Roberson [referring to Aly Roberson, not Monica] was not in our office over the past week. At Children’s Dentistry of Huntsville we strive to provide the best possible care to all of our patients and the community,” they stated.
After seeing a post on Facebook detailing the incident, Alrington Dentistry in Madison reached out the family to help. On Thursday, Monica and Chance had a consultation. They told Roberson not to be surprised if the teeth are surgically removed.
“But if there is anything they can do, they will try to save them. It’s a sense of hope that someone’s going to help and it takes off the edge of the helpless feeling,” she said.