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Patient swallows Swedish dentist's drill bit

David Landes · 19 Jan 2011, 15:36

Published: 19 Jan 2011 15:36 GMT+01:00

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The patient had arrived at a dental clinic in Västmanland county to have the filling from a recently repaired tooth cleaned.

In the middle of the procedure, however, the dentist's drill bit came loose and before the dentist or attending hygienist could react, the patient had swallowed the end of the dental tool.

Although showing no signs of discomfort or injury as a result of the dental malfunction, the patient was nevertheless admitted to the emergency room in nearby Västerås for precautionary x-rays.

The dentist learned the following day that the drill bit had ended up in the patient's stomach and that the patient felt fine.

The patient added that the misplaced dental tool was expected to come out "the natural way," according to a statement from the Västmanland county council.

Despite the patient's lack of complications following the mishap, the incident, which occurred in October 2010, has been reported to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) under Sweden's Lex Maria laws, the informal name used to refer to regulations governing the reporting of injuries or incidents in the Swedish health care system.

The patient's October surprise at the dental office isn't the first time someone has left a Swedish dentist office with a foreign object lodged in his or her digestive tract.

Story continues below…

Back in January 2009, county health authorities in Kalmar in southern Sweden filed a report a Lex Maria report about a dental drill bit which flew off during a cleaning and was believed to have ended up in the patient's stomach.

However, the missing dental tool failed to show up on x-rays following taken after the incident.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:59 January 19, 2011 by Roy E
How fortunate for the patient that is wasn't a Russian or Austrian dentist's drill bit!

/sarcasm off
16:12 January 19, 2011 by Rizwan Rahim
similarly,dentists should not chit-chat with assistants while in action...this is very common in Sweden.
16:34 January 19, 2011 by Swedesmith
Is this a "no deposit, no return" drill bit?
17:38 January 19, 2011 by Cederberg
tomorrow the patient can give the drill bit back to the dentist, no problem!
20:15 January 19, 2011 by Zala Russe
Hopefully, just a 'once in a career' unfortunate accident. At least dentistry is regulated in the UK and Sweden. Unlike some of our European Union partners. For example, one in five Italian dentists are unqualified. Whatever happened to the protocols that were supposed to ensure 'HARMONISATION' of qualifications across the EU?

It is almost impossible now to register with a dental surgeon on the National Health Service in the UK. In private practice in the UK expect to pay out around 5GBP per minute. There is a growing dependency on recruiting dentists from the Eastern Euro states.

For major treatment it is cheaper to fly to and stay in Poland, where training standards are high, and charges are low.

23:58 January 19, 2011 by GLO
Who pays for the lost drill bit???
00:04 January 20, 2011 by Zala Russe
Well at least the item spurred me to complete my short story :)

THE GIRL WHO PRACTISED DENTISTRY : Flash Fiction (510 words)

03:35 January 20, 2011 by digitalamish
@ Roy E

"How fortunate for the patient that is wasn't a Russian or Austrian dentist's drill bit! "

Speaking from experience?!

At least in Moscow (and I am speaking from experience here), they use a protective plastic cover over your mouth. So, you would not have to swallow tools or anything else for that matter...

It's kind of funny to see an Englishman attempt dentistry jokes though...

/ sarcasm on
09:17 January 20, 2011 by americanska
digitalamish - exactly. how the heck can they not have used the rubber dam? I can't imagine sitting there for an hour with my mouth wide open while they fix a cavity with all those tools with nothing protecting me...swallowing all the grit they are drilling off as well!

terrible terrible dental care in national systems.
10:42 January 20, 2011 by Roy E

There's no need to get defensive. I just grabbed a couple country names at random to poke some fun at the silly headline implication that the experience is somehow different depending on nationality .
11:46 January 20, 2011 by Åskar
What a boring story!
22:33 January 20, 2011 by sundowner27uk
well if the dentist does get that drill bit back. I dont think i would want it in my mouth after where its been, especially if it comes out the rear end....yuk...
16:33 January 21, 2011 by Maler1971
This is news worthy?? This happens at least once a week in dental offices.

The burrs' ( which is two pieces welded together) carbide "tip" pops off and

lands in the mouth and quickly sucked up by the assistant and her suction. Patients are never the wiser, and no danger usually if swallowed...

Though, if inhaled and trapped in a lung.....thats another story!!!
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