RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Dental Board of California is investigating why a 7-year-old girl died after a visit to her dentist's Riverside office last week.
Jacqueline Martinez went to the New Smile Dental Office on March 4 to have a tooth removed, said Sandy Fatland of the San Bernardino County coroner's office. The child began choking and stopped breathing after the tooth became stuck in her throat, officials said.
The girl, who was brain-dead, was pronounced dead Friday at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital.
Shirley Moody, the state Dental Board's enforcement chief, said she assigned an investigator to the case after Jackie's death was reported to the board. By law, dentists have seven working days to report patient deaths.
Moody said the investigator has already spoken to the dentist, Dr. Thien Luong of Riverside, who has been licensed since August 2006, and his Long Beach attorney, William Haggerty.
“We haven't heard from the family yet,” she said. “That's a big piece of it right there.”
An off-duty paramedic was in the dental office when Jackie began choking and tried to perform CPR on her before an ambulance arrived, Fatland said.
Firefighters who went to the dental office found that the girl had a tooth lodged behind her vocal chords, Riverside Fire Battalion Chief Bob Bock said. The paramedics couldn't remove it, he said.
Fatland said the coroner's investigation will include factors leading to Jackie's death and a toxicology report, which could take at least six weeks to receive. The autopsy results will be submitted to the San Bernardino County and Riverside County Child Death Review boards, made up of law enforcement officials and social workers who investigate child deaths. The boards look for trends and patterns in child deaths.
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