Recent Stories on Wisdom Teeth Removal Death

I have recently posted about 2 potential deaths from wisdom teeth removal that occurred this year in 2014. The first one is an 18 year old man in Maine (see Eighteen Year Old Music Student in Portland Dies After Wisdom Teeth Removal). The second is a 24 year old woman who went into a coma in Hawaii (see Mother of Two in Hawaii in a Coma After Wisdom Teeth Surgery).

These stories got some play in various media outlets. For example, Mike Adams of wrote an article titled “Wisdom teeth surgery a deadly dental scam: Young mother falls into coma following visit to dentist” see In the article Mike says

“Across virtually the entire industry of conventional dentistry, this dangerous surgery scam is pushed on patients with unethical fear tactics that claim asymptomatic wisdom teeth — teeth with no symptoms, pain or problems — must be surgically removed “because they are there.””

Mike then goes on to mention the two recent death cases and says that dentists put profits over the safety of their patients and are unethical.  He does say

“Finally, I’m not saying that all surgeries or wisdom teeth extraction procedures are unnecessary.”

He however, doesn’t really go into the reasons for what would make removing wisdom teeth necessary. He does say that dentists don’t fully disclose all the risks and says you should look into this yourself. However, I would argue it would be difficult to look into all the risks yourself without access to medical journal articles and the knowledge to do so which for a teenager would pose a large challenge.

An opinion letter appears in the Forecaster, March 24, 2014, titled “Letter: The problem is there may not be a problem,” see which also discusses the recent wisdom teeth death of the 18 year old man. This letter is written by an orthopedic surgeon who knows little about wisdom teeth surgery. He does speculate that removing many wisdom teeth is unnecessary citing some studies and guidelines.  He states

“As a practicing orthopaedic surgeon, I can relate that a number of techniques and practices I was taught in good faith 20 years ago are now known to be ineffective or even harmful. This is true across the field of medicine. After all, 300 years ago common practice included “bloodletting” patients when they were sick, leading to the death of our first president, George Washington.”

Why I think it is useful for these articles to say that many wisdom teeth surgeries are unnecessary citing studies and guidelines by other groups, it is important to remember that some wisdom teeth surgeries are needed and necessary even when their are risks with the surgery. Being able to better define this gray area is important so that one can better make an informed decision.

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