Minnesota Dentist’s License Temporarily Suspended After Fatal Wisdom Tooth Procedure

A Minnesota dentist has recently had his dental license temporarily suspended following the death of one of his patients, a teenage girl, as a result of her wisdom teeth removal.

Dr. Paul Tompach of Edina Oral and Maxillofacial was performing a routine wisdom teeth removal procedure on 17-year-old Sydney Galleger on June 9, 2015, when she began convulsing during the procedure.

According to WGNTV, Tompach was cited by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry for “imminent risk of harm” and for failing to manage a medical emergency for his patient. The Board also cited Tompach for employing a dental assistant who, despite being on-site during the procedure, had never completed the state certification requirements for administering anesthesia to a patient.

Galleger, who would have been a senior graduating from Eden Prairie High School this year, reportedly went into cardiac arrest after the convulsions began. She was taken to the hospital and was pronounced dead on June 15.

It should be noted that wisdom teeth removals aren’t typically considered to be dangerous procedures. Something like a dental implant procedure, which is even more invasive in some cases, has a success rate of 98%. The most common problem that patients face after a wisdom tooth removal is “dry socket,” but it has become so common that dentists can easily diagnose and treat it.

Convulsions and subsequent cardiac arrest simply aren’t commonplace during a routine wisdom teeth removal, and as the Star Tribune reported, the effects of this event were nothing short of devastating.

Galleger was an active athlete and was generally in good health, but her family stated that she had a slight heart abnormality and had signs of a viral infection on her brain. Although these conditions weren’t expected to cause cardiac arrest on their own, it seems that the slightest mistake in an anesthesia dosage could have done the trick.

Tompach has a strong history of practicing dentistry as well as cosmetic procedures. Nevertheless, the Board will be reviewing the case in detail in the coming weeks to determine if Tompach’s license should be revoked entirely.

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