My first patient a couple of weeks ago was worried because following a routine visit to the dentist’s surgery she had come away with rather more than she bargained for.
The dentist was working on one of her molars and during the procedure the drill bit came loose and was swallowed before the dental assistant could suck it up. Dental drill bits are commonly formed from tungsten carbide particles and are usually less than 3 cm long. Luckily she swallowed rather than inhaled the bit as things could have been a lot more serious giving rise to some serious breathing difficulties. We reassured her that nature would take her course and that there were unlikely to be any adverse incidents as the bit passed through her digestive tract. We advised her to seek medical attention if she had any new or worrying symptoms. The dentist had given her instructions too; he had asked her to look out for the bit so that she could retrieve it and return it to the surgery – apparently they are quite expensive! Say arhhh!