Accused cut a lingual nerve while extracting a wisdom tooth A dentist who used 'tremendous force' to extract a wisdom tooth carelessly severed a nerve, impairing her patient's sense of taste, a prosecutor told the Dental Council yesterday. Shirley Ng Sau-chi, of Bayley and Jackson Medical Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, cut Ho Sin-ping's lingual nerve during the extraction. The injury left Ms Ho unable to taste sour, bitter or salty flavours on the right side of her tongue. Dr Ng is accused of professional misconduct for failing to refer the patient to a specialist when complications arose; of negligently severing the lingual nerve through careless practice; of failing to monitor the condition of the patient's tongue during follow-up consultations; and of failing to refer the patient for remedial treatment. The council heard Dr Ng had initially tried a routine extraction of the wisdom tooth, but that, when the decayed crown shattered, she performed a surgical extraction that required sectioning the tooth and removing it in four pieces. Ms Ho said she had expressed concern over possible nerve damage, but was reassured by Dr Ng. 'After the surgery Dr Ng told me I was lucky that she didn't refer me to a specialist, who would have cost HK$4,000 while she only cost HK$1,600,' Ms Ho said. When Ms Ho returned for her follow-up consultation, she told Dr Ng she could no longer feel her tongue, which had led to her biting it, causing ulcers. Ms Ho said she was told not to worry and that it was 'all in my head'. Ms Ho only learned about the severed lingual nerve when she was referred to a hospital dentist. Professor Cheung Lim-kwong, of Hong Kong University's faculty of dentistry, an expert witness for the prosecution, said severed lingual nerves occurred in about 0.4 per cent of lower wisdom tooth extractions. He said in some patients, the nerve sits near the root of the tooth, but not in Ms Ho's case. Edward Hui, honorary associate professor in the HKU faculty, an expert witness for the defence, said Dr Ng's 'wait-and-see' approach was the correct one, and there was no evidence her delay had affected or exacerbated the patient's recovery. He conceded Dr Ng should have referred the case to a specialist after being told of the numbness in Ms Ho's tongue. Dr Ng and her nurse said Ms Ho was a 'nervous patient' and the procedure would have gone smoothly had she co-operated. The council was deliberating on its verdict last night.