PORTLAND, Maine (CBS Hartford) – A teenager died days after having his wisdom teeth removed sending his community into shock.
Benjamin Edward LaMontagne had his impacted wisdom teeth removed on Feb. 19th and had the typical post-operative pain and swelling. The 18-year-old’s condition deteriorated within 48 hours following the surgery and he died in his mother’s arm, The Portland Press Herald reported.
His parents, Peter and Lynn LaMontagne, said that rescue workers tried to revive him but couldn’t. They believe he died from complications to surgery. An autopsy is being conducted.
According to The Portland Press Herald, the senior at Cheverus High School was “known as an independent, compassionate young man who constantly pushed himself to be better.”
“If anybody could say they had a complete life after 18 short years, it was Benjamin, which makes it all the more painful to have him taken from us so soon,” his father told the newspaper.
His parents are not focusing on the what caused their son to die, but instead celebrating his life and laying him to rest.
“The best part about him was that he did his own thing, he went his own way,” Christian Cilley, LaMontagne’s closest friend, said. “You could either jump on the train or watch it fly by.”
Death from complications of oral surgery is rare, according to two surgeons.
“The frequency of death is so low that it can’t be accurately estimated,” Dr. Thomas Dodson, professor and chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle, explained. Dodson has not reviewed the details of LaMontagne’s death but has examined the risk factors for wisdom tooth extraction.
Dodson taught surgery at Harvard Dental School in Boston and was an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. According to The Portland Press Herald, he explained “that in 20 years of surveys completed by every oral surgeon in Massachusetts – 150 to 200 surgeons in all – not a single death was recorded among patients who had wisdom teeth extracted.”
“I’m trained as an epidemiologist, and I can’t say I’ve even ever read (about a death) anywhere,” Dodson said. “It’s kind of one of these things that, when we do studies and we enroll 10,000 patients, death doesn’t happen. You’d need to probably enroll hundreds of thousands of patients to assess the rate of death.”
The teenager’s former bass clarinet teacher shared that she watched him grow from a somewhat unfocused sixth-grader and into a serious musician.
“I know he’s not my son, but I feel like I watched him grow up,” Julia Frothingham, LaMontagne’s teacher for six years, said. “I’ll miss not being able to see where he goes from here. I hope my son would grow up to be like him.”