Last year, Canadian mom Melissa Lopez took her ten-year-old to the dentist, where she learned the girl had nine cavities. After seeking a second opinion, Lopez decided to go with the new dentist for her daughter’s treatment. But in June, Lopez received a call from the Children’s Aid Society ”” the original dentist had reported Lopez for possible oral neglect of her daughter.
When the first dentist told Lopez that her daughter, Elianna, would require thousands of dollars in dental work, she was stunned. Her family didn’t have dental insurance, meaning Melissa would have to pay the expenses out-of-pocket. When Lopez took Elianna to get a second opinion, the new dentist told her that her daughter had fewer cavities. Lopez did what any sane person would do and had the second dentist treat her daughter. However, she never told the original dentist that she’d taken her daughter elsewhere. “We’ve switched dentists before and never notified the previous one,” she said to CBC Toronto.
Six months later, Lopez received the call from the Children’s Aid Society.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Lopez said to CBC Toronto. “As a mother, you pride yourself on how you raise your kids. I have three kids ”” they’re healthy, they’re happy, they do great in school, they have lots of friends. For someone to turn around and try to accuse me of neglecting her, it’s absurd.”
When Lopez was able to prove that her daughter had her dental work done elsewhere, the CAS case was closed. Yet, Lopez now has a permanent file with the CAS office, and she is pissed. “It will always be there, 10, 15, 20 years from now,” said Lopez. “I’m red-flagged, I’ve been marked, and there’s no reason for this to have happened.”
Lopez thinks it’s absurd that the dentist could report her to CAS without knowing all the facts. She says that while she never responded to the dental office’s reminders about booking an appointment, she doesn’t think that should be a red flag considering how often people switch dentists. Also, “there was no sort of letter stating they’re concerned for her health,” Lopez said. But according to Kevin Marsh, the director of communications for the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, health care professionals are required to report suspected neglect. “You don’t have to have proof of abuse or neglect, just reasonable grounds,” Marsh said.
Unfortunately for Lopez, the CAS keeps all files for “accountability purposes,” even though she was able to prove there was no neglect. As she said to CBC Toronto, “I would absolutely love it if they would just remove that file for me, because I don’t feel there was any just reason to report me in the first place.”
(Image: CBC / Melissa Lopez)