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Dental surgery leads to death of the teenage patient

Recently, a 14-year-old Georgia teen was found dead in his room one day after going through wisdom tooth removal. The Sheriff's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are still looking into the specific circumstances. Presently, there is no word on whether a medical malpractice case will be filed citing doctor negligence.

In a similar case, the parents of the Maryland teenager that died during surgery for wisdom tooth removal have filed suit against the oral surgeon and the anesthesiologist. The medical malpractice lawsuit cites doctor negligence on the part of both medical practitioners who are the named defendants in the civil case.

The high school student died from a relatively common oral surgery, one that is performed on over five million people each year in the United States alone.

There are risks to wisdom tooth extraction much like any other medical surgery. The most commonly cited complications include

  • Nerve damage in the tongue, lips and teeth
  • Tooth or jaw fracturing or breakage
  • Infections in the brain tissue
  • Excessive bleeding

Although common, the surgery is sometimes done when it may not be necessary. Considering the risks, it's important that potential patients are well-educated on the alternatives to wisdom tooth extraction.

In most cases, teens and young adults have wisdom teeth removed as a preventative measure to keep from future complications. This is because leaving wisdom teeth in place may cause problems to existing molars and nerves.

Studies show that impactions that may result from leaving wisdom teeth to grow in naturally only occur in about 12 percent of the population.

Source: ABC News, "Parents Sue After Teen Dies During Wisdom Tooth Surgery," Katie Moisse, Dec. 15, 2011

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