Wisdom Teeth Removal Leads to Trigeminal Neuralgia and Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome dysfunction

A now 25 year old Canadian woman has been left with Trigeminal Neuralgia and Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome dysfunction as a result of wisdom teeth surgery that occurred in July 2016. The woman’s joints in her jaw are described as deteriorating and has led to osteoarthritis. She has bone on bone grinding of her condyle against her upper jaw. The woman’s brother said that the Trigeminal Neuralgia left pain so excruciating that the woman would sometimes be screaming at the top of her lungs for 8 hours a day. The woman was enrolled in nursing school at the time of the surgery. She was able to complete school with some accommodation by her university but has not started working. Even so, the medical bills have added up.

After the wisdom tooth surgery the woman made several trips to the emergency room, has seen many specialists including neurologists, neurosurgeons, ear nose and throat doctors, oral surgeons, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and chiropractors, and has undergone numerous imaging exams including MRI and CT. Such visits and expenses have totaled so far over $60,000. The Trigeminal Neuralgia was eventually traced to two damaged teeth: one that was cracked and another that had been exposed to nerve, which was believed to have come from the wisdom tooth surgery. As such the pain has been more controlled although is still present and occurs at various times.

The woman and her family have encountered lack of experienced specialists in Canada to help with her condition. In addition, another specialist available in Canada has a 2 1/2 year waitlist in order to be seen. The family found a doctor in St. Petersburg, Florida, who they would like to perform Bilateral TMJ Arthroplasty. However the expenses and associated costs total over $70,000 and thus the family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to support the care for the woman. Additional details about the woman’s condition and the planned future care is available on the GoFundMe page. The parent’s state:

“At this time, our daughter has had to give up the life she dreamed of and instead, she rarely leaves the house anymore as she does her best to cope with this awful condition and the mostly constant pain that attends it.”

It is not entirely clear why the wisdom tooth were removed from the woman in the first place. In the past many young adults have had wisdom teeth removed for preventative reasons as to prevent future problems. However, nowadays many with healthy asymptomatic wisdom teeth delay extraction until a problem occurs. Whatever the reason for the removal, it is clear that extraction of wisdom teeth can lead to serious lasting complications. In this case it appears extracting wisdom teeth from an otherwise healthy 22 year old woman lead to permanent chronic pain, inability to productively work and establish a career, and thousands upon thousands of dollars of medical bills which were (partially) covered by tapping prematurely into the woman’s parents retirement accounts and by raising money in fundraising online.

References

  1. Nicole Stillger, Global News, “Family of Saskatoon woman living with chronic nerve pain raising money for costly surgery,” September 17, 2019. https://globalnews.ca/news/5915322/family-saskatoon-woman-nerve-pain-gofundme/

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