Woman awarded €60k for tooth implant that went wrong

Noreen Hedigan outside court today. Pic: Collins

A school teacher who has been left with numbness in her mouth and jaw after a tooth implant went wrong has been awarded €60,000 by the High Court.

Noreen Hedigan, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said, has been left with permanent numbness of her right lower jaw, chin and some teeth after undergoing foundation work for an implant when a screw was inserted in her gum.

The woman told the court she is now "staying clear of implants. It's a disaster."

Mrs Hedigan's counsel Dr John O'Mahony SC explained to the court the screw impinged on the dental nerve and did a lot of damage and she now has significant numbness in the right lower cheek and jaw and in five of her teeth.

Mr Justice Cross said Mrs Hedigan was a most pleasant woman who was not exaggerating her complaints but she is conscious all the time of the numbness, dribbles sometimes when she is eating and as a secondary school teacher has to mould her words when speaking.

He said the injury was in the moderate category and Mrs Hedigan was entitled to go through life without this numbness in her jaw.

Noreen Hedigan (aged 49) a secondary school teacher from Kilbrack, Doneraile, Co. Cork, had sued dentist Kemeney Istvan who practised at the time at Hungarian Dental Clinic Ltd, Main Street, Ballylanders, Co. Limerick.

Sub-standard care, it was claimed, was provided to Mrs Hedigan on October 2012 and she suffered, it was alleged, traumatic injury causing nerve damage at or around the time of the drilling and implant.

Dr O'Mahony told the court judgment had been obtained against the dentist and the case was before the court for assessment of damages only. The case against the Hungarian Dental Clinic was adjourned generally.

Counsel said Mrs Hedigan has suffered significant numbness to her right lower cheek and five of her teeth are also lacking sensitivity. As a result, he said she favours the left side of her mouth when eating.

In evidence, Mrs Hedigan said in October 2012 she was in the dental clinic on another matter and was advised she could have an implant to fill a gap in her lower right jaw. She said the dentist cut open her gum and a screw was implanted as the first step of a two-step procedure.

When the dentist rang her the next day, she told him her jaw area was still numb.

She said: “I said I was grand but it’s still numb.

"He started panicking and said to come to him where he was working that day at a clinic in Dublin."

She said she drove to Dublin to meet the dentist who she said cut her gum open again and took out the screw.

"He said the numbness would go but it might take weeks," she said. Mrs Hedigan was refunded the €1,000 she had already paid as she did not want to continue with an implant.

She told the judge there had been so much "rooting and tearing at my gum".

But she said the feeling in her right lower jaw never came back. She said her GP referred her for x-ray and she could see the nerve in her right lower jaw had disappeared.

She said she has been told nothing can be done for the numbness.

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