A Leamington woman was left with a snapped drill part lodged in her jaw after a botched root canal led to six months of agony.
Alison Southwood won a 16-month legal battle after being left with an eight millimetre fragment of dental drill lodged in her jaw bone in 2013.
Another dentist at the practice tried to calm me down, telling me not to worry, that it happens all the time they just usually don’t tell the patients.Alison Southwood
The 44-year-old from Leamington went for a standard root canal procedure when the drill snapped at the base of her tooth, narrowly missing a nerve in her jaw.
The sales manager won £5,500 in damages after successfully suing Dr Meena Aduma of Genix Healthcare in Cirencester.
She was left in six months of agony before having the rotten tooth removed.
The dental firm claimed that the fracturing of the drill part amounted to “a non-negligent complication” of the root canal procedure.
But winning the case, solicitor, Tim Armitage from the Dental Law Partnership, said: “Root canal treatments are carried out routinely and without incident every day.
“Alison’s dentist failed to use reasonable care and skill to ensure the instrumentation was confined to the tooth root canal only and to avoid perforation into the bone. “X-rays taken after the treatment confirmed that the instrument extended 8mm beyond the base of the tooth.
“Dr Aduma is a fully qualified NHS dentist, with the appropriate level of training and experience that should have ensued this situation never occurred. In my opinion, a trauma like this is a clear case of negligence.”
Despite the settlement, Dr Aduma made no admissions of liability for the incident, which left Alison with a painful and rotting tooth for over six months.
Speaking about her ordeal, Alison said: “I immediately knew something was wrong.
“My mouth was numbed so I couldn’t feel it when the drill snapped off, but a hush descended on the room while the dentist and dental nurse exchanged worried glances between each other before shuffling out for a private discussion.”
She said that when the pair returned, it was explained to her that there was no way to remove the drill, so they were going to simply fill in the hole and send her home -before being told that such issues ‘happen all the time’ and that patients are simply not told.
“I was in shock, just going through the motions and letting them get on with treatment so I could get out of there as soon as possible,” Alison said.
“When I finally left the chair, clearly visibly shaken, another dentist at the practice tried to calm me down, telling me not to worry, that it happens all the time they just usually don’t tell the patients.
“I didn’t know what to say. I was totally dumfounded.”
Alison’s case was so unusual that she struggled to find a dentist capable of carrying out repair work as removing the tooth so close to a nerve could leave her with no sensation in her jaw, tongue or lip.
Her tooth continued to decay and she said she has been left with a lasting fear of the dentist’s chair - as well as a costly bill for repair work.
Lawyers at the Dental Law Partnership took on Alison’s case in November 2013, reaching an out of court settlement with Dr Aduma in February for damages of £5,500.