Often on this blog and teethremoval.com I ask the question why were the wisdom teeth extracted? usually in response to a bad outcome as in complication from the surgery.
A case recently came to light in Nevada and now has been added on the wisdom teeth risks of keeping them page. I became aware of the case by a Fox 5 News Story in Las Vegas, Nevada. http://www.fox5vegas.com/story/15079360/botched-medical-procedure-raises-questions. A 2 minute 36 second video clip presumably aired a few days ago and is at the link provided as well.
A feel this segment that aired does not do the case justice. What is described by Fox 5 News is that a young male had his wisdom teeth extracted and was later declared brain dead. The story essentially makes the case that you need to do extensive research when you are choosing a doctor to have surgery such as wisdom teeth removal performed.
I reviewed the records for the case provided by the Board of Medical Examiners of the State of Nevada http://www.medboard.nv.gov/Public%20Filings/2011/Wong%20First%20Amended%20Complaint.pdf. What actually happened was a 23 year old male had developed an infection in his lower wisdom tooth which soon progressed to Ludwig’s Angina. This is a serious medical emergency which can lead to difficulty breathing and consequently he had his lower wisdom tooth extracted. The extraction was performed by an oral surgeon who also had an anesthesiologist on hand to administer the anesthesia. Unfortunately the anesthesiologist used an LMA airway device instead of an Endotracheal tube to keep his airway open during the surgery. Because of this he subsequently was declared brain dead.
In this case one could certainly make an argument about why he didn’t have his wisdom teeth extracted when he was younger and healthy. Therefore he would not have had such a pressing medical condition that required such adherence to using the proper airway device. Now certainly the Endotracheal tube should have been used. Other things which would be good to know about this case is what led to Ludwig’s Angina. There are a lot of variables that could potentially account for this such as how often he brushes and floss his teeth, how often he visits the dentist, how often he eats properly and exercises. It was described that he was obese.
The bottom line is yes if you are considering surgery to have wisdom teeth extracted you should get recommendations from friends and family about a potential doctor to see and also conduct some of your own research perhaps on the internet and by visiting state medical boards websites. The Fox 5 News story says to thoroughly check in other states for the doctor’s license and potential past disciplinary action. In this case in addition to the oral surgeon the anesthesiologist needed to be checked. Even so I think finding this type of information can be quite difficult for many patients and I do not think a man who had Ludwig’s Angina would have been in any position to be searching through state medical board’s websites. Consequently it is no surprise that the ads displayed before the video segement on the Fox 5 News website are for lawyers.
Ultimately prevention such as regularly brushing, flossing, seeing the dentist, watching what you eat, and exercise is crucial as well to help prevent wisdom teeth problems before they start.