Woman tells how bleeding gums led to liver disease being diagnosed 

A woman was saved from near-death when a dentist spotted that her bleeding gums were a sign of potentially fatal liver disease.

The mother of two went to her dentist Dr Clodagh McAllister because her gums were bleeding so severely her mouth filled with blood. 

However, at that point in September 2020, she thought this was due to a problem with her teeth only.

“I presented to Dr Clodagh and within less than a minute she told me, in her extremely calm manner, that she felt it was a doctor I needed, and not a dentist,” the woman, who does not wish to be identified, said.

Dr McAllister diagnosed the bleeding was attributed to malnutrition and she suspected an infection in the liver was the root cause. She contacted the patient’s GP and arranged an immediate appointment.

The patient said things started happening very quickly once the GP saw her.

“Within half an hour I was in a hospital A&E department and I spent the next 10 days in hospital. I had stage 4 liver failure.” 

There was a build-up of fluid on my brain, my lungs and my heart. The doctors told me that had I waited another 72 hours I would have been looking at a maximum of 12 weeks to live.” 

She added: “It is because of Clodagh that my children have a mother and my husband has a wife. Clodagh saved my life.” 

The woman also said she suffers from an anxiety disorder.

“Clodagh is aware of this. She made me feel so safe, and that everything was going to be OK,” she said.

Dr McAllister of Fairview Dental Clinic was recognised this week for her clinical skills as the overall winter of the Colgate Caring Dentist of the Year 2022.

The judges noted if this condition had continued undetected, it would have proved fatal.

The Munster finalist was Dr Rita O’ Dowd, No 8 Clinic, Cornmarket in Limerick. Her patients shared congratulatory messages on the clinic’s Facebook page, with one woman writing: “A super lady and professional that goes the extra mile for everyone.”

The overall dental team winner was Dr Susan Crean’s team at Susan Crean Dental and Facial Aesthetics based in Tralee, Co Kerry.

President of the Irish Dental Association Dr Caroline Robins said the nominations are made by the patients. 

“I congratulate Dr McAllister, and all our winners and nominees, on their wonderful achievements and the outstanding work and contribution they are making every day to the lives of all their patients in the community,” she said. 

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