As It Happens

'I can't bite anything': Ontario man sues dental surgeon after waking up without teeth

A Keswick, Ont., man says that when he went in for dental surgery, he woke up to learn that all of his teeth had accidentally been extracted.

Dentist allegedly removed Lee Schwaderer’s teeth ‘in error,’ and caused irreversible damage to his jaw

A dental surgeon mistakenly removed all of Lee Schwaderer's teeth during a procedure in 2015 (Supplied by Jeremy Schwaderer)

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Lee Schwaderer loves corn on the cob and singing with his church choir, but now he can't enjoy either.

When the 65-year-old Keswick, Ont., man went in for dental surgery three years ago, he says he woke up from anesthesia to a shocking announcement.

He alleges his dental surgeon said at the time "I don't know what I was thinking, I pulled all of your teeth out."

Now Schwaderer is unable to wear a bottom denture due to damage from the surgery and it's too painful to wear an upper denture for more than a few hours.

That limits him to pureed foods and "things I can chew with my gums," Schwaderer told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"It's been very difficult for me and my missus," he said.

No explanation

The surgery was meant to fix problems caused by a seizure medication that "rotted" Schwaderer's teeth. He took the anticonvulsant drug to control seizures brought on by a head injury he received over years of playing sports and working in construction.

"The plan was to pull the uppers [and] save all but two on the bottom," he said. Dentures would be fitted to his top jaw and a plate for the lower half.

When Schwaderer came to, he claims the doctor stood over him and "matter of factly" explained that he removed all his teeth.

In a handwritten note on his patient file, Moore wrote that it happened "in error," and claims that he apologized "several times."

"How can you apologize for that?" Schwaderer asked Off. "It's like me, if I build a table for someone, [and say], 'Okay, it only has three legs. Is that good?'"

According to the note, Moore offered to cover the cost of a lower denture, but Schwaderer says that money has never materialized.  

The doctor still hasn't explained why he removed all of his teeth, Schwaderer told As It Happens.

Dr. Ford Moore wrote on Schwaderer's patient file that he apologized 'several times' to Lee and his wife. (Supplied by Lee Schwaderer)

Suing to make a point

Schwaderer is suing Southlake Regional Health Centre, where the surgery took place, and Dr. Ford Moore. 

The lawsuit is seeking $500,000 for assault, battery, breach of contract and negligence and another $500,000 in special damages for Schwaderer and $100,000 in damages for his wife, Enid.

The allegations have not been proven in court. 

Southlake Regional Health Centre told CBC in a statement that they cannot comment of Schwaderer's specific case.

The statement continues, "We take any complaints from patients very seriously and we do thorough investigations of patient complaints to ensure all our processes keep our patients safe."

Dr. Moore declined to comment as the allegations are before the courts.

(Daniel Frank/Pexels)

He said he wants to make a point.

"I just don't want it to happen someone else."

"I can take it better than most people. Heck, I'm ex-Army … I've taken pain all my life," he said.

"But to have this happen to anyone that's not like me, I don't know. They would probably go goofy."

'Can't bite anything'

Schwaderer says the surgery has taken a significant toll on his life. The inability to enjoy food has taken its toll, it seems.

"It sure would be nice to bite into corn-on-the-cob. Or bite into anything — a burger," he said becoming emotional. "I can't bite an apple — I can't bite, I can't bite anything!"

What's more, he and his wife can no longer eat out, he said.

"How would you like to be able to go to a restaurant and say, 'Can you please puree everything for me?'"

"Quality of life? That bum ruined it," he said.

Still, Schwaderer tries to remain optimistic. While he misses some things, he acknowledges — with a chuckle — that he's "still above the dirt."

Something else that keeps him upbeat: woodworking. Schwaderer has run a small business since 1979 and previously built houses.

Now he spends his time repairing, refinishing and building furniture.

"That's what gets me through."

Written by Jason Vermes. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong.