There are plenty of terrible things about the teenage years. Puberty itself is a nightmare, but then outside forces make everything worse. What could be worse? Orthodontia. Sure, you have a curfew and can’t get a date to save your life. What if we throw some metal on your teeth?
With all that in mind, you might be considering waiting until young adulthood for braces. Faith Hoch waited until she was 20 years old. The baker from Wisconsin didn’t have issues with her wisdom teeth. She wasn’t in pain or discomfort. Hoch simply wanted straighter teeth. Still, before fitting her for braces, Hoch’s orthodontist recommended the removal of the patient’s wisdom teeth, two molars, and a front tooth.
Hoch didn’t question the referral. After all, it’s such a common procedure. Millions of people undergo wisdom tooth removal every year. Typically, it’s an outpatient operation and patients are sent home with painkillers. A bit of swelling is normal and soft foods are recommended.
Still, for Hoch, something went wrong. By that evening, she was in severe pain. Her roommate took her to the hospital only hours after the procedure. Hospital staff assured Hoch and her roommate that this was normal and sent her home.
It wasn’t normal. The next day, the 20-year-old couldn’t stay awake. When she did wake up, she vomited. Her face had swollen far beyond what was expected. Faith’s twin sister, Grace, visited her and she was disturbed. After seeing her sister’s condition, Grace insisted on taking her sister back to the hospital.
Hoch was admitted with a 105-degree fever and dangerously low blood pressure. After a CT scan, doctors determined her swelling was from sepsis, an extreme complication of an infection. Hoch was told she was in septic shock. She was rushed to emergency surgery to clear the infection.
“Grace saved my life,” Hoch told Metro UK News.“The doctors said that if I had waited another half hour to hour to come[to the] hospital, I would have been dead.”
Post-surgery, Hoch was laid up in intensive care. Even with the surgery, she was incredibly swollen all over. She couldn’t speak or even write. Doctors placed drains in her face. She spent three terrifying days in and out of consciousness, experiencing hallucinations that her organs were being harvested.
Once released from the ICU, Hoch remained in the hospital for four additional days. Those 7 days of hospitalization changed Hoch’s life forever. She had to learn to walk again. She lost muscle. She dropped 25 pounds. She faces not only a long recovery but also a pile of medical bills.
In the end, the infection originated from her lower left wisdom tooth. Doctors can’t give Hoch a reason for her misfortune. Such a reaction is incredibly rare. Her dentist had never seen anything like it. Even Faith’s twin sister breezed through her wisdom tooth removal.
“My twin sister got hers out and went to the Mall of America the next day,” Hoch said.“I ended up in the hospital with sepsis.”
Hoch’s story is a reminder to all of us that wisdom tooth removal, while common, still has inherent risks. These risks are very rare, but you should always discuss the possibility with your dentist and surgeon.