A Wandsworth physiotherapist has been awarded £20,000 in compensation after she was left with permanent nerve damage following dental surgery.

Stephanie Clarke, 31, visited Dr Victoria Egemonye at Dental Clinique in Balham in January 2015, after severe toothache caused by her wisdom tooth getting infected.

Miss Clarke was referred to Dr Egemonye to have the tooth extracted, but the procedure didn’t go according to plan.

She said: “I had never had a tooth extracted before, but Dr Egemonye reassured me that it was a routine procedure, that she did all the time. She gave me a local anaesthetic, but I remember the extraction taking a long time.

“I was in total agony at one point and I had to be reinjected with more anaesthetic because the procedure was taking so long. She implied everything had gone well so I thought it must me normal for an extraction.

Following the surgery, Miss Clarke was left in ‘agony,’ she said she would cry herself to sleep because of the pain for the first three days.

Highly concerned and finding the pain unbearable Miss Clarke returned to the dentist. She had also developed a tingling sensation in the left side of her lip and tongue. But when she saw Dr Egemonye the dentist assured her that the pain and tingling was normal after a tooth extraction.

The pain and symptoms continued for two months and it was then when Dr Egemonye referred her to hospital.

Miss Clarke was told that the tingling sensation was most likely due to nerve damage and that Dr Egemonye should refer her to see a nerve specialist. When she finally saw a specialist in December 2015, Miss Clarke was told she had permanent nerve damage that she would have to live with for the rest of her life.

At this point Miss Clarke was referred to a psychologist to help face the ordeal. But to make matters worse she was told that if she had seen the nerve specialist sooner surgical repair to the nerve could have been undertaken and resolved the problem.

“When I saw the nerve specialist she told me that nerve damage needs to be repaired soon after the incident, otherwise it’s too late and will be permanent,” Miss Clarke said. “But Dr Egemonye barely managed to refer me within 12 months, so I never had a chance. I have to live with something forever that could have been avoided”

Analysis of her dental records by Dental Law Parnetship, revealed that Dr Egemonye had cut through Miss Clarke’s nerve with the surgical bur used to remove bone, and had failed to recognise that she had done so. The dentist had also failed to promptly refer Miss Clarke to the nerve damage specialist at hospital, missing the window for surgical repair. The dentist had even failed to tick the ‘urgent’ box on Miss Clarke’s referral form which would have ensured she’d been seen sooner.

“It is so upsetting to think this whole ordeal was easily avoidable,” Miss Clarke said. “Dr Egemonye told me this was a routine procedure, but it turned out to be a nightmare. My tongue now feels too big for my mouth.

“In the year after the procedure I was constantly biting my tongue and drawing blood. I’ve had to completely change the way I eat. On top of this I can’t taste anything on the left side of my mouth and I live with constant numbness and fuzziness down that side.”

Heather Owen of The Dental Law Partnership commented: “The distress and pain our client experienced was completely unnecessary. If the dentist had performed the extraction with reasonable skill and care her suffering would have been avoided.”

The Dental Law Partnership took on Miss Clarke’s case in 2016. The case was successfully settled in 2018 when the dentist paid a total of £20,000 in an out of court settlement. The dentist denied liability.