AUSTIN — Parents of a toddler who died earlier this week while at the dentist said they are still in shock.
All that was supposed to happen was routine. Daisy Lynn Torres needed to have two cavities filled, Betty Squier and Elizandro Torres said Thursday.
Because Daisy was 14 months old, a dentist at Austin Children's Dentistry was using general anesthesia.
"They told me to sit down with her so they could put her under, and they told me to leave the room," Squier said. "So I left the room."
After Daisy was anesthetized, Squier said the dentist, whom she did not identify, told her that her daughter needed additional dental work.
"About 10 or 15 minutes into her procedure, the dentist came back because originally she was only supposed to be going for two cavities. And he said, 'I'm going to go ahead and do six. I'm going to do four crowns on top and two at the bottom,' ” Daisy's mom said.
Children often get their first teeth as early as 3 months old, but they can emerge as late as a year old. By age 3, a child has a full set of baby teeth.
Squier said she trusted that the dentist was making the right decisions for her baby. But a short time later, the dentist alerted her that Daisy had gone into cardiac arrest.
They had performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and assured Squier that Daisy was OK. But a short time later, they called an ambulance.
By the time emergency medical crews transported the child to a hospital, Squier said Daisy was brain dead.
In an article published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine, five experts advised avoiding non-urgent surgical procedures requiring general anesthesia for children younger than 3. Their concerns related to long-term brain development rather than immediate problems.
“It's certainly one of the things we always like to say as pediatric anesthesiologists is that children are not just small adults," said Dr. Genevieve Mounce, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin who has no involvement in the case. "Children do require different amount of anesthesia, and they are typically weight based. But we also take into account co-morbidities — if they have any type of medical history or family history that could potentially change how we give their anesthesia.”
At her hospital, administering anesthesia is commonplace because their patients need surgery, and most children have no problems.
Treating cavities is important, even in young children, according to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry. Untreated cavities can lead to blood-borne infections that are also risky.
Daisy's family still is awaiting answers from the Austin-Travis County medical examiner on what happened while she was under anesthesia. For now, they're trying to make arrangements to bury her in Houston where their families live.
"Every person that she'd seen, she brought joy to everyone," Squier said. "We're very thankful for everyone that's supporting us through this difficult time. Everyone's prayers and comments and uplifting words have really made an impact, and it's something that we really need right now."