SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Oral surgeons say people should not be afraid of having routine procedures following the death of an 18-year-old Cheverus High School student.
Benjanim LaMontagne died in February, four days after having his wisdom teeth removed. The medical examiner says the cause of death was necrotizing fasciitis -- also known as 'flesh-eating bacteria.
Dr. Mark Zajkowski is a board certified oral surgeon in South Portland. LaMontagne was not his patient at his practice. He says necrotizing fasciitis is so rare, doctors see maybe only once in their lifetime.
It is are caused by powerful strain of streptococcus A, a common bacteria found in the throat or on the skin. and is associated with strep throat. It spreads through tissue, blocking small blood vessels that feed the skin. Eventually the infection can cause toxic shock and organ failure.
LaMontagne reportedly died from complications from infection four days after he had his wisdom teeth removed. Dr. Zajkowski said the bacteria can enter the body through a break in the skin, but having oral surgery may not played a role.
"Any incision in the tissue could be a portal for the bacteria to spread. Then again he could have the same problem, if he were to brush his teeth and cause bleeding in his gums, he could have ended up with the exact same event," said Dr.Mark Zajkowski, a board certified Oral Surgeon in South Portland.
Experts say one in 20 people will have an infection following oral surgery, 3 in 100,000 will have serious medical problems, including surgery to remove dead tissue.