Oral infection outbreak appears linked to an Anaheim dental office, officials say

As if visiting the dentist wasn’t scary enough, Orange County health officials are alerting parents to an outbreak of oral infections that appear linked to a children’s dental office in Anaheim.

At least one case of a Mycobacterial abscessus infection has been confirmed in a patient who visited the Children’s Dental Group, in the 2100 block of East Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim, according to the OC Health Care Agency. The infection was detected after the child underwent a pulpotomy procedure to remove or treat an infected tooth, health officials said.

The healthcare agency received multiple reports last week of children who had developed infections after undergoing the same procedure at the office. Eight children showed signs of “slowly progressive oral cellulitis” with dental abscesses and/or respiratory infections, officials said.

Seven of those children were hospitalized partly “because this issue has been identified and these kids were recognized to be at risk,” said the agency’s spokeswoman, Jessica Good. Although the agency has confirmed one M. abscessus infection, the other cases remain under investigation. Preliminary test results could be available next week.

M. abscessus is found in dust, water and soil and known to contaminate medical devices. The commonly occurring bacteria can cause dental abscess and other skin and soft tissue infections. The infection can also infect bones and is treated with prolonged antibiotic use.

In this case, the children began showing symptoms 15 to 85 days after the initial procedure.

The facility and agency are trying to contact the parents of about 500 children who received pulpotomy procedures from May 3 to Aug. 2. The facility stopped performing the procedures Sept. 6.

“Due to the length of incubation period and the recent discontinuation of the clinic’s pulpotomy practice, additional cases may be identified,” the healthcare agency said.

The California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Dental Board of California are working with the healthcare agency to investigate the infections.

The Children’s Dental Group said it follows industry standards for care and uses modern equipment and instruments.

“To protect the health and safety of our patients, upon seeing this we began a review and testing of our systems, equipment, water, and other elements in the office,” the dental group said in a statement.

Facility operators have asked all patients who received the “baby root canals” during that period to visit their office for an exam and X-rays.

“Our thoughts, as well as our actions, are devoted to the health of our patients as we work through this situation,” the group said.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

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