Visits to the dentist can leave your mouth feeling mighty sore. Your lungs, usually, not so much.
Unfortunately, Tom Jozsi wasn’t so lucky in that department.
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WISN’s Kent Wainscott asked the Illinois man how it happened.
“Well, I don’t know. I was at the dentist getting a tooth filled, and next thing I knew, I was told I swallowed this tool,” said Jozsi, a 60-year-old maintenance worker.
“I didn’t really even feel it going down. All I did was really felt a cough. When they did the CT scan they realized, you didn’t swallow it. You inhaled it.”
Doctors said their theory is that he inhaled the bit before he coughed, driving it deep into his airways.
“When I saw the CAT scan and where that object is sitting, it was really far down on the right lower lobe of the lung,” said Dr. Abdul Alraiyes.
It was so deep, in fact, the scopes the hospital would normally use couldn’t reach it.
Man Swallows Dental Drill Bit During Tooth Filling Procedure
The drill bit was in Tom Jozsi’s lung for four days before a specialized doctor was able to remove it.https://t.co/02sSwWoTfZ
— Lee (@unionjump) April 20, 2022
There was good reason for Jozsi to be nervous, too.
“What happens if he can’t get it out?” he asked.
“And really the answer was, part of my lung was going to have to get removed.”
Thankfully, the team at Aurora Medical Center-Kenosha came up with a novel solution — although one not really intended for the circumstances. (It’s worth noting, however, hardly any treatment solutions are intended for inhaling dental drill bits.)
The device, Alraiyes explained, is “more for early detection of cancer, especially lung cancer.”
WISN’s reporter asked Alraiyes if he knew it could be used for this.
“Exactly right. The reason is this. The size of this catheter,” Alrayes said, pointing to the small size of the tube used to go into Jozsi’s lung.
Sure enough, the bit was extracted.
“I was never so happy in my life when I opened my eyes and I saw him with a smile under that mask shaking a little plastic container that had the tool in it,” Jozsi said.
And now to frighten you even more about any upcoming trip to the dentist: “Alraiyes told WISN 12 he has heard from colleagues in Michigan and Ohio who report seeing cases nearly identical to this.”
Granted, this is extremely rare. I have no idea what the odds are, but I would venture to guess they’re somewhere between being a plane-crash victim and Walter Mondale’s corpse being the 2024 Democratic nominee for president. (There’s also a question about which would be worse, but that’s for another day.)
The point is, the next time you’re getting a filling done, remember: Yes, it may be awful. Yes, the sound of the drill is terrible; the spit is being sucked out of your mouth by a tube, and the dentist may seem to have the sadistic chair-side manner of Steve Martin’s character in “Little Shop of Horrors.”
However, it could always be worse — that drill bit could be lodged in your lung.
As for the drill bit in question, it’s been retired to a place of honor: Jozsi says it’s now resting on a shelf in his home.
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