Teacher left with numbness after tooth implant went wrong awarded €60,000 damages

High court heard woman had to have impant removed and now dribbles sometimes when eating

Noreen Hedigan from Doneraile, Co Cork, pictured at the Four Courts on Friday for her High Court action. She told the judge she is now “staying clear of implants”. Photograph: Collins Courts

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

Noreen Hedigan 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, Mr Justice Kevin Cross found.

Ms Hedigan told the judge she is now “staying clear of implants”.

“It’s a disaster,” she said.


Her counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC said the screw had 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 teeth.

Mr Justice Cross said Ms Hedigan was a most pleasant woman who was not exaggerating her complaints but was conscious all the time of the numbness.

She dribbles sometimes when eating and, as a secondary school teacher, has to mould her words when speaking, he said.

The injury was in the moderate category and she was entitled to have got through life without this numbness, he added

Ms Hedigan (49), 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.

It was claimed sub-standard care was provided to her in October 2012 and she suffered traumatic injury causing nerve damage at or around the time of the drilling and implant.

Dr O’Mahony said 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.

In evidence, Ms Hedigan said she was in the dental clinic on another matter in October 2012 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 said she told him her jaw area was still numb.

“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 did so, he cut her gum open again and took out the screw and told her the numbness would go but it “might take weeks”.

She said she was refunded the €1,000 she had already paid as she did not want to continue with an implant because there had been so much “rooting and tearing at my gum”.

The feeling in her right lower jaw never came back, she said. Following an x-ray, she could see the nerve in her right lower jaw had disappeared and she has been told nothing can be done for the numbness.