Wisdom Teeth Surgery: Sydney Galleger, 17, Dies After Procedure, What You Need To Know

Patricia Didelot

Wisdom teeth surgery left Sydney Galleger in a coma from which she never woke up. Sadly the 17-year-old spunky teen passed away after days of fighting for her life. Her case is generating a lot of questions about this very common procedure.

You hear it every day. Some teen needs to get their wisdom teeth pulled out because the molars are coming in crooked or are painful. Most patients choose to avoid any discomfort or knowledge of what is happening and opt to use general anesthesia.

Anesthesia is used thousands of times in medical procedures, so what happened to Galleger when she had wisdom teeth surgery? Up until then she was a normal, outgoing teen, loved by all those who knew here. Today her family is going through an unspeakable tragedy after she lost her life after the surgery on June 9.

"All went good until the very end when her blood pressure shot up and her pulse dropped and then she went into cardiac arrest," her mother, Diane Galleger, wrote on a CaringBridge page the family set up to share updates about their daughter's condition with concerned family and friends, the Huffington Post reports.

Doctors at the dentist's office were able to stabilize the teen during wisdom teeth surgery and she was transported to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. However, she suffered seizures and swelling in her brain while on a ventilator, her mom said.

That Friday, Sydney Galleger underwent surgery to attempt to reduce the swelling in the brain, but the efforts were unsuccessful. Doctors gave her parents the news they dreaded, telling them there was nothing else they could do.

The tragedy suffered by the Galleger family brings to the forefront that despite its perceived routine nature, wisdom teeth surgery is an invasive procedure and should not be taken lightly.

According to Dr. Sanda Moldovan, a periodontist, nutritionist, and integrative oral health specialist who has performed wisdom teeth surgeries for over 10 years, having an anesthesiologist present during the procedure is more expensive, but most definitely worth it. Moldovan says that the anesthesiologist can monitor the patient's vital signs while the surgeon extracts the teeth.

It is common practice, according to Moldovan, that most oral surgeons do their own sedation. Impacted teeth are the number one reason for wisdom teeth surgery; however, not all impacted teeth create problems for the patient. There are safer ways to put a patient to sleep.

"Some impacted wisdom teeth can harbor bad bacteria, which not only affect our mouth but cause inflammation in the rest of the body. However, the percentage of wisdom teeth which are affected by periodontal disease is estimated to be around 25 percent. With that said, some wisdom teeth stay impacted without ever causing a problem. Unfortunately, we cannot predict which ones."

"My suggestion is to ask for a separate anesthesiologist, if IV sedation is a must, but better yet, use nitrous oxide, aka 'laughing gas,' as a safer option."

"My suggestion is to ask for a separate anesthesiologist, if IV sedation is a must, but better yet, use nitrous oxide, aka 'laughing gas,' as a safer option."

Additionally, Dr. Moldovan recommends to prepare your body a week before you are scheduled to undergo wisdom teeth surgery.

"...by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, staying well-hydrated and avoiding any natural supplements or medications that may increase bleeding, such as fish oil and aspirin. Even adhering to these and other tips any surgery has potential risk factors."

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