The DMD Check-Up: Boy, 4, Dies under Dental Anesthesia


A four-year-old boy has died after undergoing anesthesia at a dental practice in Vancouver, Washington. Authorities said they have filed no charges and are not investigating the incident. USA Today asks the somewhat rhetorical question of what would happen if a person didn’t brush their teeth for a year. And our sister publication Contagion® reports on a study that establishes a potential link between dental plaque and infections acquired while on ventilators.

Vancouver boy, 4, goes to dentist, dies: Mykel Peterson's mother, Thmeka Curry, is at a loss for answers after her…

— Vancouver WA Buzz (@vancouverwabuzz) March 13, 2017

Following a report two weeks ago about the filing of a lawsuit in the death of a 14-month-old after undergoing anesthesia, another tragic death has occurred. This time, a four-year-old boy from Washington has died. The story has received attention across the country, raising questions about the need to sedate children for dental procedures. Elsewhere in industry news, a new study looks at a possible connection between dental plaque and ventilator-acquired infections. And a Houston news outlet brings us another report of a dental impersonator. This one was working out of a trailer.


A four-year-old boy in Vancouver, Washington has died after undergoing general anesthesia at a pediatric dental practice.

The news was reported earlier this week by NBC4i, based in Columbus, Ohio. The boy, Mykel Peterson, died suddenly after oral surgery at Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry. His mother, Thmeka Curry, says in the report that the boy was given an injection, then she rocked the boy to sleep. The boy never awoke after the surgery, NBC4i reports.

A rescue crew rushed the boy to the hospital, but he never regained consciousness.

Monisha Gagneja, B.D.S., Prashant Gagneja, B.D.S., and Chelsea Zamudio, D.D.S., the proprietors of the practice, have since issued a statement to the media. It reads, in part:

“As dentists and staff devoted exclusively to the needs of children, all of us at must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry are heartbroken and devastated by this event. As to the specifics, outside medical experts will review what happened.”

NBC4i reports that area police say they suspect no criminal activity in the boy’s death and that no charges have been filed.

This news comes two weeks after a lawsuit was filed in the death of a 14-month-old at a Texas dental practice.

Researchers find link between #plaque and microbes causing respiratory-associated #infections, such as #VAP

— Contagion (@Contagion_Live) March 15, 2017


A report from our sister publication, Contagion®, looks at a recent study by researchers at Cardiff University in Wales that seems to indicate that dental plaque may be linked to ventilator-associated pneumonia.

This team discovered that for an unknown reason, dental plaque of patients on respirators “can become colonized with bacteria and become a conduit to the development of VAP.”

Researchers looked at microbe samples from 12 adults who were on ventilators. They also established each patient’s baseline level of oral health at the beginning of the study. Each patient had their teeth brushed while on the ventilator.

When examining samples, researchers discovered two significant findings. The first, Contagion® reports, is that the microbes Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenza were all present. The second finding was that “the patients’ dental plaque harbored bacteria not normally residing in healthy mouths but are known to cause respiratory infections.”

Contagion® reports that VAP occurs in 9-24 percent of patients who are placed on ventilators for over 48 hours.


The Associated Press reports that David Hoffman, D.D.S., removed the benign tumor after the girl was flown in from Gambia for the surgery.

According to the AP, the surgeons said the tumor was close in size to a cantaloupe and “one of the largest tumors they’d ever seen,” making eating impossible and breathing difficult.

The girl, 12, is recovering and is expected to make her way home to the West African nation next week. The girl, named Janet, was transported to the U.S. with her mother by the Global Medical Relief Fund. A team of clinicians volunteered for the January surgery, which took place at Cohen Children’s Medical Center on Long Island.

What would happen if you didn't brush your teeth for a year? - USA TODAY

— paleo diet (@PaleoDietxxx) March 14, 2017


This week, USA today asked the rhetorical question, what would happen if you didn’t brush your teeth for a year?

The Dentist’s Money Digest® editorial team asks a follow-up rhetorical question of, is that a question that had to be asked? But, if the answer gets more people to see their dentist twice a year, then we’re all for it. We think this quote from Matthew Messina, D.D.S., a spokesman for the American Dental Association, sums it up quite nicely. What would happen?

“Probably nothing good,” Messina says in USA Today’s report.

Refer reluctant brushers to the full article if they still need convincing.


A 34-year-old Houston man has been charged with practicing dentistry without a license.

Click 2 Houston reports that Jose Elias Meraz-Sanchez, 34, was charged after an undercover operation. The case, the news outlet reports, began in February. Meraz-Sanchez was allegedly practicing dentistry out of a trailer. An undercover officer went to this trailer and received a diagnosis and price for treatment, Click 2 Houston reports.

Meraz-Sanchez was arrested shortly thereafter. He has since been charged with unlawful practice of dentistry.

Got a news tip? See something you’d like to have included in the DMD Check-Up? Email Dentist’s Money Digest managing editor Joe Hannan:

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