Texas Mother of 14-Month-Old Baby Girl Who Died After Dental Procedure Speaks Out: 'I Don't Want Other Parents to Lose a Child This Way'
"I just want to know why my baby died," Betty Squier tells PEOPLE
Grieving Texas mother Betty Squier has been left with many unanswered questions since the sudden death of her 14-month-old baby girl after she was put under anesthesia for a dental crown procedure.
Squier took her daughter, Daisy Lynn Torres, to Austin Children’s Dentistry in Austin, Texas, so she could get crowns placed on two cavities. But halfway through the procedure, Squier was informed that complications had arisen and that an ambulance was on the way to take her daughter to the hospital. Within hours, Daisy Lynn was dead.
Although a toxicology report determining the official cause of death will not be released for weeks, Squier says her daughter went into cardiac arrest and was “dead before she even left the dentist office.”
“I just want to know why my baby died,” Squier, 26, tells PEOPLE. “I don’t want any other parent to have to lose a child this way. Please, please make sure your children brush and floss, so they don’t get cavities.”
Family members and friends are holding a funeral in Houston, Texas, for Daisy Lynn this week, complete with “a butterfly garden and doves.”
“She was such a girly-girl and loved all things pink and princess,” says Squier. “We are having a wake and will dress her in a tiara and a lacey dress, her favorite.”
Squier says her biggest fear is that her oldest child, 5-year-old Eli Torres, will one day get a cavity.
“I’m dreading taking him to the dentist. I make sure he brushes twice a day and flosses all the time so he will never get one,” she says through tears. “I couldn’t bear for my child to get a cavity after this has happened.”
“If I could have done something different for Daisy Lynn, and if I could give any parents advice, I would tell them to do more research on your dentist and your anesthesiologist and to get as many second opinions as you possibly can.”
PEOPLE spoke with the president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Robert Delarosa, about best practices in pediatric cavity care.
At what age should you first bring your child to the dentist?
By their first birthday. We use this first visit to educate families, establish a comprehensive ongoing relationship between dentist and patient and examine a child’s mouth for any early tooth decay. We talk about the dangers of prolonged bottle-feeding, appropriate levels of fluoride exposure, healthy snacking and good dental practices. We are seeing tooth decay at much earlier ages, so it’s important to educate early and be on the lookout.
How common are cavities among infants and/or toddlers?
Unfortunately, too common. By the age of 3 or 4, around 30-40 percent of children have dental disease. Dental disease is the most chronic childhood disease. It’s heavily based on environment and genetics.
Does it matter if a baby tooth gets a cavity?
Decay in baby teeth is just as important as decay in permanent teeth. Decay can spread rapidly and it’s important to get it under control if this happens. Some of the symptoms of baby tooth decay include pain, infection and swelling. It can also affect the development of permanent teeth later on, as well as speech development. Other risks include dental deformity, problems with chewing and tooth growth.
How can parents prevent cavities in infants and/or toddlers?
The biggest tip is to bring your child to the dentist starting at the age of 1. Engage early! We suggest brushing for two minutes, twice a day. And when their teeth start touching, floss.
If a child does get a cavity, what is the best way to treat it?
It depends on how much of the tooth is infected with decay. The more aggressive a cavity is, you may have to fill it or put a crown or cap on it. Our last resort is involving the nerve of the tooth. If you leave a tooth with decay in, you face serious dental problems in the future. If you take a baby tooth out before it falls out, the more complications you have with development, speech and growth.
Anesthesia at the dentist – safe or unsafe?
General anesthesia and sedations carry inherent risks. You have to weigh the problem against the benefits and risks. Dentists look at the safest and most comfortable way to address the problem. It should be avoided if possible, unless a condition requires it and it is the safest route. The main reason it’s used is because small children are prone to squirming in their chairs. If a dentist is holding a sharp object, a moving child can bump their hand, causing further damage.
What age is too young for anesthesia at the dentist?
There isn’t a cut-off age. It all depends on the size of the cavity and the urgency and the nature that it needs to be taken care of.