Dental Malpractice Suit Has $11M Payout

A 21-year-old man died hours after having wisdom tooth surgery, even though his physician had specifically advised against any dental treatment.

The oral surgeon who failed to clear the operation with the man’s physician was found guilty of malpractice, and the man’s family was awarded a whopping $11 million.

The New Jersey man had a hereditary immune system disorder that leads to swelling. He suffocated to death from a closed ariway the morning after his wisdom teeth were removed by an oral surgeon in 2005.

The man’s dentist and oral surgeon each pointed the finger at the other. However, the dentist was cleared of negligence, while the oral surgeon was found guilty of medical malpractice for not having consulted with the man’s physician prior to operating.

“This may be the largest dental malpractice verdict, certainly in New Jersey history, and I think in the nation’s history,” said the family’s attorney. “I’m not aware of any larger than this under any circumstances. Dental malpractice cases are usually very small and pale in comparison to this.”

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Dental Stem Cells Hidden Inside Wisdom Teeth

Stem cells in wisdom teethStem cells and dentistry are becoming linked in all kinds of new ways. The latest is news that wisdom teeth can be a source of stem cells.

The wisdom teeth don’t contain actual stem cells themselves, but cells inside the dental pulp can be coaxed into creating stem cells.

Since wisdom tooth removal is such a common procedure, and one performed in a sterilized environment, it’s a great opportunity. The tissue removed during the wisdom tooth extraction can be frozen and stored for later use.

What that “later use” might be isn’t clear yet, but it seems likely that new stem cell therapies will continue to be introduced. Recent headlines heralded that fact that dental implants may soon include stem cells.

Are there any dental marketing ramifications? Well, if you remove wisdom teeth, you may find you can offer an additional service at some point in the future!

Read more: Wisdom teeth a source of stem cells and Induction of Pluripotent Stem Cells from Human Third Molar Mesenchymal Stromal Cells

Wisdom Tooth Dentists Know Their Limits (video)

Wisdom teeth referralsHalf of dentists refer out 80% or more of wisdom teeth extractions, our survey found.

“That’s what oral surgeons are for!” said a dentist who refers out all removals.

“Better them than me!” agreed a dentist who refers 60-80%. “I actually have an oral surgeon come into the office and do impacted wisdom teeth with oral/nitrous sedation dentistry.”

Read more: Dentists and Wisdom Tooth Extractions

Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Does Removing Them Really Matter?

pulling impacted wisdom teethWhen asked if impacted wisdom teeth automatically should be removed, over half the dentists surveyed felt they should usually be removed, but not always. Some pointed to the fact that this is a skilled procedure where the dentist needs to have experience in the removal of wisdom teeth.

“If they have the TRAINING and EXPERIENCE there is no reason why a generalist should not be extracting impacted wisdom teeth,” advised one dentist. “This applies to almost any “specialty” service . . .”

In this dental survey, 53% felt wisdom teeth should usually be removed, but not always; while 40% were evenly split between 20% warning that impacted wisdom teeth almost always need to be extracted, and 20% stating many impacted wisdom teeth do not need to be removed; and 9% insisted that impacted wisdom teeth need to be extracted.

Here are some dentist comments:

  • “I have been removing wisdom teeth for more than 26 years. The vast majority of impacted wisdom teeth
    should be removed before age 20 to simplify the procedure for both the patient and the dentist. The need to remove these teeth later in life is a much more complicated and risky procedure. There is too much potential risk to leave wisdom teeth impacted for most patients.” (Arkansas dentist)
  • “Use common sense. You need to have a reason why the procedure is done . The patient needs to be better off because of the procedure.” (New York dentist)
  • “I have seen too many 50+ year olds with impacted third molars contributing to to the loss of second molars due to attachment loss.” (California periodontist)
  • “I had a 73 year old man whose #1 erupted and had to be removed. Better to get them out early while recovery/surgery is not so complicated.” (Texas dentist)
  • “Age is the most important variable.” (General dentist)
  • “3rd molars ought to be evaluated for each patient to determine whether or if surgery is indicated. After 50 years of practice, I have seen many untreated impacted 3rd molars, but very rarely a problem from them.” (Missouri dentist)
  • “If they’re there and functional, clean, so be it! Also depends on the age. I’m not about to tell a 80 year old lady she has a perio-pocket on #32 D and if she’s not able to keep it clean, it needs to go!” (New York dentist)
  • “Of course it depends on your experience, training and comfort level, but any GP can learn how to do this. Note that if it were not for wisdom tooth extraction and dental implants, OMS specialists would have nothing to do with dentistry!” (General dentist)

Read more: Does Removing Impacted Wisdom Teeth Really Matter?

1 in 4 General Dentists Remove Wisdom Teeth (video)

1 in 4 General Dentists Remove Wisdom Teeth (video)General dentists can do wisdom teeth extractions, except when they can’t and need to refer the patient to an oral surgeon.

Some dentists prefer to do these procedures themselves, whereas others still refer the patient out whenever possible.

Said one dentist who refers out all removals, “That’s what oral surgeons are for!” Another general dentist said, “I am glad oral surgeons are there, but most surgical wisdom teeth are very easy.”

The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists what percentage of wisdom teeth removal they refer out to an oral surgeonWatch the following video to hear the results of the survey and what other dentists had to say on the subject —

How do you handle wisdom tooth removal?

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