Man Inhales Drill Bit During Dental Procedure

As if we needed another reason to be scared about going to a dentist, it seems those terrifying drill bits can do more than bore through teeth, they can get lodged in your lungs.

Imagine going to a dentist for a routine procedure like getting a tooth filled, and then hearing that you might have to have part of your lung removed because of a dental drill bit. That’s exactly what happened to Tom Jozsi, a 60-year-old man from Illinois, this month. He was at the dentist getting a tooth filled, and the next thing he knows he is being told that he swallowed a drill bit. That would have been bad enough, considering that the sharp metal part could have pierced his intestines, but a CT scan later showed that he hadn’t swallowed the drill bit, he had inhaled it, and it was now lodged in his lung.

Photo: Ozkan Guner/Unsplash

“I was at the dentist getting a tooth filled, and then next thing I know I was told I swallowed this tool,” he told WISN 12 News. “I didn’t really even feel it going down. All I felt was a cough.”

Pulmonary experts initially tried removing the dental drill bit using normal scopes but it appeared to be lodged too deep in the lung. Obviously, Jozsi started getting worried, especially after being told that if the drill bit would be left there, part of his lung would probably need to be removed.

“That foreign body was in the mouth and bacteria in the mouth is the most virulent and very aggressive bacteria, and if it’s sitting there it will create an abscess down the road,” pulmonologist Abdul Hamid Alraiyes told CNN. “That’s why you have to get rid of it as soon as possible.”


“What happens if he can’t get it out? And the answer really was, part of my lung was going to have to get removed,” Tom Jozsi told People Magazine.

At one point, the drill bit started causing the 60-year-old maintenance worker to cough up blood, so doctors started preparing him for intensive surgery. Luckily, Dr. Alraiyes and his team came up with a creative way to get the drill bit out, using a robotic bronchoscopy normally used to detect tiny lung cancer nodules. The 90-minute procedure went as planned, and the drill bit was removed.

Tom Jozsi has since made a full recovery and he even has the drill bit on a shelf in his home as a souvenir to remind him of the time he nearly lost part of his lung.

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