BAY COUNTY-- A recent case of child neglect in Bay County involving the lack of dental hygiene is raising eyebrows and questions.
Through the tangled weeds of what is child neglect lies many different forms.
"A lot of people think that it's leaving children unattended and not providing supervision of children who are quite young. Really, neglect can be in many forms, it can be medical neglect where you have a child who has a significant medical need, or dental need that goes unattended," Lori Allen, Executive Director at Gulf Coast Children's Advocacy Center, said.
The lack of dental care is what lead to the arrest of one local mom.
Police reports say they were called to the home of Catlyn Haley, 21, because they had reason to believe her four-year-old daughter was not getting the dental attention she needed.
"Any time there's a concern that a medical or dental issue is being untreated that could cause significant or a potential for significant impairment to the health or well being of a child, it's going to be serious. It's something that the Department of Children and Families officials, Law Enforcement and our team will be looking at collectively," Allen said.
Local Dentists say it's not uncommon for them to see decaying teeth in young children, they also say it's important to start bringing your kids to the dentist at a young age.
"Prevention and early detection is the key in any dental treatment," Dr. Aly Morshed a Dentist at Bay County Health Department's Children's Dentistry Clinic said. "Teeth are not only important for cosmetic reasons, but they play an important role especially in kids, for their growth."
The police report documented that the child's teeth were so badly decayed that her gums were black. Dr. Morshed said decaying teeth in young children is preventable.
"Moms need to be with their kids in the beginning, brushing their teeth and showing them the proper way to brush," Dr. Morshed said.
We're told the mother claims she simply can't afford to have the work done. According to Child Advocacy Officials, not being able to afford proper dental care is not an excuse.
This specific case is still being investigated.