We all hate going to the dentist – but one woman's world was left in tatters after a routine trip.
A mum has been left devastated after having to have all her teeth and most of her jaw removed after a regular appointment.
Meighan Maselli, 36, popped to the dentist for a root canal appointment and to have two teeth removed as they were infected.
However, within days she was in agony, and diagnosed with osteomyelitis in her lower jaw – an inflammation caused by an infection elsewhere in the body.
It became so infected doctors had to remove almost all her lower jaw and replace it with a metal rod, removing all the bottom and top teeth to prevent further infection.
Megan said: “I barely leave my home any more. I was a beautiful girl with a young son at the time and he is traumatised by this.
“I’ve lost half my breast as part of this surgery I had, I have got scars on my hip, my leg and my face.
“I’m 36 now and I’m disabled, I have no teeth, and I’m stuck at home not working.
“We’re struggling, my kid can’t leave home to go to college as she is working full time to help me pay my bills.
“Half of my jaw had been eaten away before anyone took me seriously.
“If I can avoid looking in the mirror, I do.”
In April 2017, Meighan went to the dentist.
A root canal, and a molar from each side of her bottom teeth had to be removed by an oral surgeon, as they had become too infected to be saved by a filling.
“I felt it, this hurt – he couldn’t get them out and I heard a crack,” she explained. “I didn’t know if it was jaw or tooth.
“They think when the dentist pulled my teeth, the crack might have been him fracturing bone because it had been weakened.
“The next day it was painful, I didn’t have anything, no antibiotics.
“The day after that it was really painful in my jaw and going down my face.”
Four days later the pain had not gone away so she had an X-ray that revealed she had osteomyelitis in her mandible.
Osteomyelitis is inflammation or swelling that occurs in the bone and is caused by an infection that had spread from elsewhere in the body or originated in the bone itself.
Meighan believes she developed the condition due to an infection in her tooth, caused by the root canal treatment.
She added: “He looked in my mouth and said ‘I’m not going to touch you, you need to go back to the people that did this
“I didn’t know where I was going to go or what I was going to do – I was scared"
She went home, but the next day woke up with a huge abscess under her chin.
She was rushed to Emergency at Albany Memorial Hospital and was given a two-week course of antibiotics.
“The abscess was still there and it’s just getting worse,” Meighan said.
“It hadn’t gone down at all, every night I was in pain. I was on the floor crying and there was nothing I could do.
“I didn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything.”
In November 2017, she visited Albany Medical Center and, after seeing her condition, nurses took her to see a doctor.
She said: “He came out and said ‘get her down to CAT scan now’.
“My jaw, from the back of my mouth to the middle of the chin where the abscess was, was gone.
“He said ‘your teeth are sitting in mush’ and there was nothing they could do for me.”
She was finally sent to an oral surgeon at Montefiore Hospital.
Meighan said: “They said they were going to take out the lower half of my infected jaw and were essentially going to clean it all out and put a rod in there.
“I was petrified, I was so scared. My biggest fear was my teeth, always has been; I didn’t have bad teeth – I always went to the dentist.”
Meighan had the six-hour surgery in January 2018 and went home a few days later, although her face was still hugely swollen.
The former certified nursing assistant returned a few months later and was told the rod had made the infection worse.
She had to have another eight-hour surgery to rebuild her jaw, using bone from her hip.
But there were further complications as she was taken in for a major 18-hour surgery to remove bone from her tibia – and then rebuild her jaw – in September 2019.
Since then she has had three more surgical procedures to thin down the thick skin on her neck, that had been added from her breast to protect her jaw during the surgery.
Meighan’s frequent hospitalisations, as well as her disability, have prevented her from working since her original root canal in 2017.
These have affected her family, forcing her 19-year-old daughter Deonna to stay home and care for her mother instead of moving away to attend university.
She said: “When I do eat it’s always soft foods, I live on eggs, pasta, chicken and hamburgers.
“I can’t even go outside in the winter months unless absolutely necessary because shivering is the absolute worst.
“Because it tenses your jaw so much, for me, it’s probably the worst pain of this.”
Although all her procedures have been covered by insurance, she wants to share her story to help others suffering as a result of medical complications to feel less alone.
“I cry every day. It is the worst. The first thought and last thought of my days are always regarding my face in some way.
“The amount of stress on my body, it’s like going to bed being 32 and waking up looking 70.
“I want other people like me know that they’re not alone.”
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