Australasian Dental Practice

Thursday, 7 December, 2023

01 Mar 2009 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 34

Girl with dentist phobia starves to death

An eight-year-old girl in the UK starved to death after developing an extreme phobia of dentists and refusing to open her mouth, an inquest has been told.

Sophie Waller, from Cornwall, England, was so traumatised by a visit to the dentist that she refused to open her mouth to talk or eat. The girl’s extraordinary fear first developed when, at age four, a dentist accidentally cut her tongue during a check-up.

Her fear became so extreme that when she needed a tooth removed four years later, she was taken to hospital. But doctors made the situation even worse by removing eight of her deciduous teeth. She was so traumatised by that procedure she had to be fed through a tube. “She had blood running all down her face... It was very scary for her,” her mother told The Daily Mail newspaper. “She soon needed a feeding tube because she stopped eating and drinking.” “I signed a form to consent to have one tooth being removed, but not eight.”

Despite her refusal to eat, Sophie was discharged from hospital. Her parent’s pleas for her to be readmitted reportedly fell on deaf ears. Doctors referred her to a child psychologist who allegedly told them “not to worry”. Two weeks after leaving the hospital, Sophie weighed less than 25kg. She died of acute kidney failure in December 2005, a post mortem examination revealed. The inquest continues.

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