17 Year Old Female Dies After Wisdom Teeth Removal

I was very saddened to recently hear about the death of a young 17 year old girl who was a junior in high school.

The woman went into cardiac arrest while having her wisdom teeth removed. She was left in a coma and died 10 days later on April 6, 2011.

She was involved in multiple choral programs and was hoping to be a professional singer.

What really is upsetting to me about this is at the recent memorial service for her on April 17, 2011, her mother described the doctors calling this very unfortunate and premature death “freak.” One high school senior at the same school discussed how she was still planning to have her wisdom teeth extracted later in the week.

The appropriate response should call into question the validity of extracting healthy wisdom teeth from young teenagers who are completely healthy when their removal can lead to very unfortunate complications and tragic events.

Numerous other deaths have occurred to young teenagers and young adults while undergoing wisdom teeth surgery. I describe many of these here http://www.teethremoval.com/death.html

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the removal of healthy wisdom teeth and it is clear that there is no scientific evidence to recommend removing healthy wisdom teeth as it can lead to many complications and in rare cases death.

I have an ongoing survey on wisdom teeth removal experiences. See http://blog.teethremoval.com/wisdom-teeth-surgery-survey for a previous discussion of this survey and if you are interested in submitting your own responses and to see additional responses by others.

A recent survey response from a 24 year old female who had all four of her wisdom teeth extracted in February 2011, says

My gut told me that having my wisdom teeth removed wasn’t necessary. Something said, if evolution and anthropology gave me wisdom teeth, why destroy it? Nature knows best. However, it seems like the norm is to have them removed. And I was worried that they would impact (shift) my teeth causing me to need braces. So I had all four removed. Now I have been had chronic headaches. Headaches that brings be to tears. My dentist DID NOT mention this as a possible side effect.

A harsh comment by user_sunshine on the article describing the unfortunate death  [ref. 1] says

I am saddened by this tragic death. [the oral surgeon] is a horrible doctor and it is so unfortunate that he is practicing. During my surgery with him he cut my nerve and I no longer have sensation in a certain part of my face. I can only hope this puts him out of business. I dread the thought of him harming another innocent person.


1). Kellie Woodhouse. Answers sought in dental surgery death of Howard County teen. April 14, 2011.  http://www.explorehoward.com/news/82499/answers-sought-dental-surgery-death-howard-county-teen/

2). Kevin Rector. Student who died following dental surgery praised at memorial service. April 17, 2011. http://www.explorehoward.com/news/82949/student-who-died-following-dental-surgery-praised-memorial-service/

9 thoughts on “17 Year Old Female Dies After Wisdom Teeth Removal”

  1. [the girl] was my only daughter and I thought she HAD TO have her wisdom teeth extracted as they were fully impacted. She had had braces and wore her Invisalign nightly and it was important to her – as a future performer – to have straight teeth.

    So many of her friends had their wisdom teeth extracted, as did I (many years ago).

    [the surgeon] had told [the girl] and me that he had had no patient die as a result of wisdom teeth extraction. I guess Jenny was his first.

    I am so upset to think that other patients might die, too, as a result of having their wisdom teeth removed.

  2. This is absolutely ridiculous. There is NO situation where the brain should be deprived of oxygen for this long.

    The anesthesiologist must have been asleep. A pulse-ox is a basic measure and would have told you something was wrong within the first 30 seconds of oxygen deprivation.

    MAJOR medical malpractice.

  3. I hear of these things happening to kids who are administered several anesthesia drugs by a regular oral surgeon-DDS in just a dentist’s office. But [her] surgeon was an MD and she was reportedly under the care of an anesthesiologist and there was at least one surgical RN in the room… which was, by the way, an actual certified surgical center (not just a dentitst’s office). So how the brain was deprived of oxygen is a mystery – even to the anesthesiologist docs at Johns Hopkins.

  4. Let us all step back and take a few minutes to calmly reflect on this tragic event. It is easy to point fingers and blame when one does not have all of the facts. It is easy to cast blame on the Anesthesiologist, yet a pulse oximiter was assuredly in use. It may be necessary to distinguish between oxygen delivery to the patient and oxygen delivery to the brain secondary to cardiopulmonary compromise. It is a tragedy anytime some one dies during a surgical procedure, but it does no one any good to speculate and gossip. I have been very disappointed with the local press by how they have played this story to it’s emotional conclusion before hearing from the medical authorities.
    Please reserve judgement of all parties involved until all the data is presented and discussed.
    Thank you.
    A local Physician

  5. Wow. It’s a shame that she died due to complications with the wisdom tooth extraction. It’s the responsibility of dentists to do all in there power to prevent something like this from happening.

  6. It is very sad and I would never want this to happen to anyone I know. With that being said the comments about wisdom teeth not needing to be extracted… Well for some people they do. They become impacted in some and cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Everyone is different and some people will NEVER have any problems with their wisdom teeth and have space for them to come in. It isn’t just a way for dentists to make money, it is a way for the person dealing with them to become comfortable. Some people may not have pain or any type of discomfort with their wisdom teeth but request they are extracted because they cause their other teeth to shift and cause them to be crooked! Next time you are in a dental office ask your dentist if you can see the xray of someone (if they can without showing the patients name) who needs their teeth extracted. If you saw an xray you would totally see why they do need to be extracted. I am getting mine out this spring and as any surgery I am concerned of the side effects but I am tired of being in so much discomfort from time to time!

  7. My 16 year old is scheduled to have all 4 wisdom teeth removed tomorrow. Reading these tragic stories makes me have second thoughts about her getting this done. She is my first born, and my only daughter. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to her. I am very skeptical now. I am Very confused about what to do now

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