Going to the dentist is probably nobody’s favourite thing to do. But for one woman, it was an “absolutely horrid experience”.
Stomp contributor Val described her root canal treatment at Q&M Dental Group’s Sengkang clinic in Compassvale Crescent on May 6 as “the most traumatic dental experience in my life”.
Sharing photos of the treatment’s aftermath, Val said: “As a result, I suffered from a burnt and now ulcerated throat, tongue, top of my mouth and inner side of my cheeks, mostly concentrated on the right side of my mouth.”
Val said she also has a scar on the right side of her face beside her mouth.
It all started when Val woke up with a bad toothache. She made the earliest possible appointment to see a dentist at the clinic nearest her home, which was at 7pm.
After ordering an X-ray scan, the dentist suggested two options to ease the pain, tooth extraction or a root canal.
Val recounted: “She did not immediately fill me in on what I could anticipate from the two options. She just continued to stare at me as if I understood those treatments and to make the decision on the spot. I was understandably in shock, and wasn’t really sure what is a root canal treatment and what permanent effects I should expect from ‘killing’ the tooth.”
A root canal procedure removes the soft centre of the tooth called the pulp, which is made up of nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels that help the tooth grow.
The Stomp contributor alleged that she was told by the dentist that there were no other less intrusive options to relieve the pain.
When the root canal treatment started, Val said the dentist “couldn’t care less about how much pain I was already in before, and during the procedure”.
In her complaint letter to Q&M, the Stomp contributor described what happened: “After two jabs of local anaesthetic shots (likely done without topical anaesthetic applied as I flinching in response to the injection pain), she proceeded to clean my teeth, ignoring my call for help.
“I was kicking my legs, waving my hands, pulling the saliva ejector gently, flinching my body, and even at one point knocking against the hand of an assistant in response to the pain as she cleaned and probably already drilling into my tooth.”
She continued: “That evening I was wearing a dress as I just got off work, but due to the pain and me repeatedly bending and kicking my legs, my dress was all over me.
“Imagine the distressed state I was in. But never once did the doctor nor her assistants try to calm me down or to at least ask if I am still feeling okay. I wasn’t given a cloth or blanket to cover my legs.”
Val then described another ordeal as she lay on the dentist chair with her mouth clamped wide open with a rubber dam and hooks.
She said: “During the treatment, the disinfectant leaked through the rubber dam and retained inside my mouth between my throat and my tongue for an extended period of time. I was gagging and tears were flowing down the side of my face in pain. The chemical solution was extremely bitter and it was burning my tongue and throat…
“It was only when I squinted my eyes so hard and tried making some noises that the dentist asked, ‘Why? What is it?’ and moved the ejector to clean and suck out the solution from my mouth.”
She said this resulted in the injuries inside her mouth.
“Upon returning home, I also realised a deep hook mark outside the right side of my lips,” she said in the letter. “The scar is painful and I now look like I have a laceration scar on my mouth.”
She went to another dental clinic three days later to assess her injuries and was told the ulceration would last for at least a week.
Apart from the letter, Val also e-mailed Q&M and left feedback on its website.
She told Stomp: “It is to my dismay and disappointment that they do not respond to my feedback in a timely manner.”
Val said that six days after the root canal procedure, she received a call from a customer service officer.
She recounted: “I wanted things to move forward and thus was forced to list down a few requests for her to discuss with her management. I was then told that I will hear back from them on May 18.”
When she did not hear from Q&M on May 18, Val e-mailed the company again, “informing them that I will have this publicised should they continue to treat their customers with a cold shoulder”.
“I then received an e-mail reply,” she said, “requesting another two weeks to launch an investigation and meanwhile they will do a ‘goodwill’ refund of fees that I already paid for my root canal treatment and for the dentist assessment on my injuries.”
Val replied to Q&M: “The above reimbursement is rightfully a part of your service recovery, which is the bare minimum to be performed to right your wrongs. It is in no way out of goodwill.”
She accepted the reimbursement.
On June 4, Val wrote to Stomp: “It’s been one month after I first made my complaint to Q&M. I have not received any update on the ‘investigation’, no apology from the dentist (one of my requests), no refund, no calls, no compensation, and no nothing from Q&M.
“Although I have recovered from the multiple ulcers in my throat after suffering for a total of 10 days, I am still left with prominent scarring on the corner of my lips.”
In response to a Stomp query, Q&M said: “We have already been in active communication with (the patient) since May 5 to provide assistance and facilitate an amicable resolution to this issue.
“We are very concerned about the lesion seen as it is an extremely rare and unusual occurrence. We have offered to send her for proper assessment and further treatment, if required, by the relevant dental and medical specialists. The assessment by specialists will also assist us in our current ongoing investigation into this matter and our review of her various requests/demands.
“Once we have confirmed the specialists to attend to (the patient), we will be contacting her again. She is well aware of all of the above.”
This article was first published in Stomp. Permission required for reproduction.