A Manitoba woman says her four-year-old daughter has permanent brain damage after undergoing dental surgery at a Winnipeg clinic.
Apryl Roulette said she took her daughter, Jairlyn, from their home on the Sandy Bay First Nation to Winnipeg on Oct. 11 for what was supposed to be a routine surgical procedure at Children's Dental World, a private clinic on McPhillips Street.
Jairlyn needed caps, fillings and an extraction, so staff said it would be best to give her a general anesthetic, according to her mother.
Half an hour into the procedure, the girl went into cardiac arrest, Roulette said.
"Everything was a blur. I was just shocked and I was like … 'God, don't let her die,'" she told CBC News on Thursday.
Jairlyn has since been recovering at Children's Hospital. Roulette said her daughter is awake but unresponsive.
"She's just never going to be the same little girl running around, laughing, yelling, talking," she said.
"I don't know if she'll ever talk again."
Roulette said her daughter will likely need special care at home.
Children's Dental World could not comment on Jairlyn's case, citing privacy concerns, but said an investigation is underway.
According to the Canadian Dental Association, more than 2,000 preschool-aged children per year undergo dental surgery in Manitoba hospitals, and many more procedures happen at private clinics like Children's Dental World.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says, "In-office deep sedation and/or general anesthesia services have been shown to be safe and successful procedures."
Dr. Jay Biber, a pediatric dentist from the clinic, said in a statement to CBC News that general anesthesia is the only safe and humane treatment option for many children.
"I have treated the children of family and friends under general anesthesia," he said.
"While significant risks existed for them as well, fortunately, these were no greater than the similar risks they took driving their child to that appointment."
Roulette said she is thinking of suing Children's Dental World as a result of the incident.
Dr. Jay Biber statement
Children's Dental World provided CBC News with this statement by Dr. Jay Biber, one of its pediatric dentists:
As a pediatric dentist, much of my time is spent caring for children who have been impacted by dental disease, the rest of my time is spent partnering with parents and caregivers in an effort to prevent it.
Happily, the vast majority of children who we as pediatric dentists have the opportunity to see are able to receive treatment in a clinical setting and their experiences are generally positive.
Unfortunately there remain children for whom dental treatment cannot be safely completed in the clinic and therefore may require a general anaesthetic.
Their inability or unwillingness to cooperate for treatment can be caused by a variety of reasons but is most commonly a result of their age, a specific medical or psychological condition, and the extent of treatment required.
While I make every effort to present all possible treatment options and their associated risks, treatment under general anesthesia remains in my view, the only safe and humane treatment option for many children.
As someone who operates out of a variety of hospitals and surgical centres, my primary concern is seeing that children receive the treatment they need safely and in a timely fashion.
To that end, I trust and support the professional and governmental bodies responsible for accrediting these facilities and licensing medical/dental professionals.
On a personal note, I have treated the children of family and friends under general anesthesia. While significant risks existed for them as well, fortunately, these were no greater than the similar risks they took driving their child to that appointment.