Death related to dental treatment: a systematic review

Nathan G. Reuter, Philip M. Westgate, Mark Ingram, Craig S. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with death in relation to dental care. Study Design A systematic review was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. PubMed, Dental and Oral Sciences Source, Web of Science, and the Cochrane database were searched, and the references of all retrieved articles were analyzed. Studies were included if death had occurred within 90 days of the dental appointment, and if the patient's age, procedure, and information regarding cause or time of death were provided. Factors associated with death were assessed by multivariate analyses and logistic regression. Results Fifty-six publications, including retrospective studies and case reports/series that reported 148 fatalities, were analyzed. On average, 2.6 deaths were reported per year. The leading cause of deaths was anesthesia/sedation/medication–related complications (n = 70). Other causes were cardiovascular events (n = 31), infection (n = 19), airway–respiratory complications (n = 18), bleeding (n = 5), and others (n = 5). Age (P < .0001), disease severity (P < .02), disease stability (P < .006), dental provider characteristics (P < .05), level of consciousness/sedation (P < .02), and drug effects (P < .03) had significant associations with death. Conclusions Reports of death were rare; however, specific risk factors associated with dentistry were identified. A better understanding of these factors is important for the development of guidelines that help prevent fatalities in dentistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-204.e10
JournalOral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Dentistry (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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