School's Visiting Dental Program Pulls Child's Teeth Out Without Telling Mom

by Megan Zander
Originally Published: 

She thought he was getting a routine cleaning, instead they performed oral surgery and let him walk home

When your nine-year-old comes home from school in tears, you expect to hear a story about a spelling test gone horribly wrong, or maybe that they and their best friend got into a verbal spat on the bus ride home. But when Michael Flemming came home crying, his mom Shanda Flemming was shocked to find out that his Baltimore, MD school had extracted three of his teeth without notifying her. If that wasn’t bad enough, they sent the third grader home without any pain medication.

Elementary schools routinely call home when kids so much as complain of a stomachache, but they couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone to inform this mom that they were going to perform oral surgery on her kid? What the hell, school?

Flemming is rightfully upset about the situation.”I just don’t understand how a school or a company can take it in their hands to do something like this to a child,” she told WJZ. “I’m angry about this. I don’t think that it should have happened like that,” said Flemming.

Flemming signed a permission slip at the beginning of the school year allowing her son to receive dental work at school through a visiting dental program, but she never anticipated this. She thought it would be a routine cleaning — scraping, brushing and stressing the importance of flossing like most kids’ dentist visits are.

Even if the form had extractions listed in there as part of the services that the school dental clinic provided, they still owed her a phone call, both for her sake and for the child’s. She has the right to decide if she wants to get a second opinion before having a procedure like that done. In fact, Flemming said she had an appointment with the family dentist already scheduled for Michael a few days after the school pulled his teeth. And getting one tooth pulled is scary, even for an adult. This poor little boy had to have three removed, and wasn’t even given the option of having his mother there to comfort him or hold his hand while it happened.

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Seriously school, what the hell were you thinking? Bringing dental services to school is a fantastic way to provide dental care to children, but common sense says if something requires numbing and pain medication, a parent should be present.

To make an already awful situation worse, the procedure took so long that Michael missed the bus. He had to walk the mile home alone, in pain. “He walked home alone after having three teeth extracted from his mouth. He could have fell over,” said his mom. Pulling three teeth out of a kid’s head without calling his mom first is messed up enough, but not making sure he had a safe way home afterwards is at worst, reckless and at best, irresponsible.

Baltimore City Schools has declined to comment on the matter, claiming privacy concerns.

Good Housekeeping reached out to the dental provider who treated Michael. They issued a similar statement: “It is the strict policy of the provider to obtain signed, valid consent forms before any and all procedures or treatments are performed on any patients,” the Oral Health Impact Project (OHIP) said via a spokesman. “Due to privacy laws we cannot discuss any matters related to the specific treatment of any individual patient.”

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