Dental service probed as girl dies after toothache

The Swedish Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen) is set to investigate the Swedish Public Dental Service (Folktandvården) after a nine-year-old girl died following repeated visits to the dentist complaining of toothache and an abscess.

The dental service in the Östergötland region has now submitted a so-called Lex Maria report to clarify whether the dental care given to the girl may have contributed to her death. Lex Maria is the informal name used for regulations governing the reporting of injuries or other incidents within the Swedish health care system.

The girl, who was a newcomer to Sweden and had never before sought dental care in the country, approached Folktandvården in Norrköping with serious caries in June 2009. Her country of origin was not included in the report.

The dentist wanted to pull out the offending tooth but the girl was considered too anxious to perform the procedure. New attempts were made to treat the girl in August and September but she refused to cooperate, at one point declining to open her mouth.

After her first visit, the girl had been given antibiotics to combat the infection.

According to the report submitted by Folktandvården to the Welfare Board, the dentist then consulted with the girl’s mother and decided to delay any further treatment until the girl had matured and acquired sufficient Swedish language skills to ease communication.

They decided that further treatment would be arranged in seven months time (March 2010).

On December 4th 2009 the girl was taken by relatives to accident and emergency with serious toothache and massive swelling of the face. Two days later the girl had died as a result of a streptococci infection.