Complex Wisdom Tooth Extraction Leads to Fractured Jaw

This case study explores a dental negligence incident where a patient's jaw was fractured during a wisdom tooth extraction by a dentist who allegedly did not review previous dental records or perform his own x-rays.

ByWendy Ketner, M.D.


Published on February 9, 2024

Oral surgery

Case Overview

This case study revolves around an adult female who had previously undergone the extraction of three out of her four wisdom teeth by her regular dentist. The final tooth, deemed more complex, was left unextracted for a longer period. Due to upcoming travel plans, the patient sought the services of another dentist to expedite the process.

t is alleged that this new dentist neither reviewed any previous dental records nor conducted his own x-rays before proceeding with the extraction. Instead, he applied local anesthesia and attempted to remove the tooth using brute force, which resulted in a fractured jaw for the patient. This case seeks expert opinion on dentistry to review medical records and provide insights into the standard of care.

Questions to the Dentistry expert and their responses


How often do you perform wisdom teeth extractions and manage postoperative care?

In my 30 years of full-time private clinical practice in general dentistry, I have gained extensive experience in oral surgical evaluation and procedures. Managing postoperative care is a routine part of my practice.


What pertinent protocols should be followed prior to performing a wisdom tooth extraction?

Before undertaking any extraction procedure, especially one involving a complicated third molar (wisdom tooth), it's crucial to review prior dental records, including radiographs if available. A current health history and an interview about dental status should also be obtained from every new patient. If no recent records are available, new ones should be taken in most circumstances.


Have you reviewed a case similar to the one described above? If so, please briefly describe.

Yes, I've encountered cases where complications arose from wisdom tooth extractions. A fracture of the mandible is always a possible but uncommon complication associated with extracting third molars. An explicit explanation of this possibility should be part of the informed consent process.

About the expert

This expert boasts a wealth of experience in the dental field, holding a BS in Biomedical Science and a DDS from renowned universities. They have previously owned and practiced as a general dentist at two dental establishments. Currently, they lend their expertise to academia as an adjunct clinical professor of internal medicine at a university in Texas, further solidifying their relevance to this case study.

Expert headshot



About the author

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Dr. Wendy Ketner is a distinguished medical professional with a comprehensive background in surgery and medical research. Currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at the Expert Institute, she plays a pivotal role in overseeing the organization's most important client relationships. Dr. Ketner's extensive surgical training was completed at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where she gained hands-on experience in various general surgery procedures, including hernia repairs, cholecystectomies, appendectomies, mastectomies for breast cancer, breast reconstruction, surgical oncology, vascular surgery, and colorectal surgery. She also provided care in the surgical intensive care unit.

Her research interests have focused on post-mastectomy reconstruction and the surgical treatment of gastric cancer, including co-authoring a textbook chapter on the subject. Additionally, she has contributed to research on the percutaneous delivery of stem cells following myocardial infarction.

Dr. Ketner's educational background includes a Bachelor's degree from Yale University in Latin American Studies and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. Moreover, she is a member of the Board of Advisors for Opollo Technologies, a fintech healthcare AI company, contributing her medical expertise to enhance healthcare technology solutions. Her role at Expert Institute involves leveraging her medical knowledge to provide insights into legal cases, underscoring her unique blend of medical and legal acumen.

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