Toxicology expert witness advises on a dental case involving an aerosol dust remover

Kristin Casler

Written by
— Updated on October 3, 2017

Toxicology expert witness advises on dental caseA toxicology expert witness advises on a case involving a dental patient who alleges medical malpractice for using an aerosol dust remover that was sprayed into her mouth. The plaintiff, who was in her 60s, was undergoing a routine dental appointment when she said her dentist’s assistant used a spray can of dust remover eight or nine times on a mirror that was then placed in her mouth. The plaintiff alleges it produced a bitter taste and a “scorching” sensation in her mouth that lasted two weeks. Immediately after being sprayed, she felt nauseous, went to the bathroom and threw up. She claims that the spray altered her sense of taste and smell. She did not go to the emergency room.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What was the likelihood that the plaintiff was exposed to a large amount of dust remover?
  • 2. Could her exposure have resulted in the damage alleged?

Expert Witness Response

In my professional opinion within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, the plaintiff was exposed to a small amount of dust remover within a short duration. It is highly unlikely that she sprayed it the claimed eight or nine times. Additionally, defogging a small dental mirror during a dental exam or while photographing teeth of a patient requires only one or two short bursts of gas/air, which delivers a very small amount of product within a very short duration.

While the plaintiff experienced an immediate bitter taste, sore throat and nausea after her exposure to the dust remover, her symptoms were short-lived and reversible. According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the dust remover, the product contained a bittering agent to help discourage inhalant abuse. This bittering agent is not harmful and is used in household cleaners and shampoos to deter intentional or accidental ingestion of these products.

Any altered sense of taste and smell was not caused by her exposure to the dust remover.

The expert is a toxicologist with more than 40 years of experience in pharmacology research and as an author of books and scientific articles.

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