Chris Byrne rarely leaves the house, eating nothing but pureed foods since surgery to remove a problem wisdom tooth. Now, his life is about to change.
Chris Byrne rarely leaves the house, eating nothing but pureed foods since surgery to remove a problem wisdom tooth. Now, his life is about to change.

‘How a bungled operation left me with no teeth’

CHRIS Byrne is smiling on the inside having won the "dental lottery" 20 years after a bungled dental surgery caused him to lose his teeth.

The Prospect father of one said he has felt the full psychological, social, physical and financial impact of having ongoing dental problems, and eventually, no teeth at all.

"Psychologically, it's quite debilitating," he said.

"The amount of ridicule, teasing and mocking that you get as a result of not having teeth is just unbelievable.

Chris Byrne from Prospect's barely leaves his home after a bungled dental operation left him toothless. Picture: PATRICK GEE
Chris Byrne from Prospect's barely leaves his home after a bungled dental operation left him toothless. Picture: PATRICK GEE

"I've gone from being an extremely outward person, to what I am now, which is somebody who barely leaves the house.

"I don't smile and I don't work. I feel I'm judged quite harshly and quickly as a result of it."

Mr Byrne will feature on SBS TVs Insight program at 8.35pm on Tuesday, May 5 looking into dental health, why so many Australians are struggling with it and how bad teeth can impact lives.

He was the victim of a bungled operation to remove a problematic wisdom tooth when he was 24 years old when his tooth snapped off at the crown mid operation.

His nerve endings and soft tissue were exposed, leaving him in "absolute agony" for three months before a second operation.

Insight host Jenny Brockie.
Insight host Jenny Brockie.

Since then he has spent $30,000-$35,000 on numerous surgeries and appointments, "only to end up with no teeth".

He has eaten nothing but pureed foods for several years and has lost more than 20kg.

Assessments have determined that Mr Byrne does "not fall into the easy category" when it comes to dental implants, and would need to spend up to $70,000 on the more complicated Zygomatic implant procedure.

He started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds required, but after filming the episode of Insight, was contacted by the CEO of Victoria's Australian Dental Association branch, who offered help.

Chris Byrne from Prospect's life has been dramatically impacted over the past 20 years after a bungled dental operation left him toothless. Picture: PATRICK GEE
Chris Byrne from Prospect's life has been dramatically impacted over the past 20 years after a bungled dental operation left him toothless. Picture: PATRICK GEE

Dr Matthew Hopcraft "reached out" to Tasmanian dental care providers and manufacturers who agreed to do Mr Byrne's surgery pro bono and donate the implants.

"It's going to happen for me," Mr Byrne said.

"I'm blessed. I've just won the dental lottery basically. But, there's a lot of people that aren't as lucky as I am."

With the national cabinet opting to ease COVID-19 restrictions on dentistry this week, Insight presenter Jenny Brockie will be asking; Are dentists actually helping our most vulnerable citizens; and can the government do more to assist people like Mr Byrne.

Catch the episode on SBS at 8.35pm, May 5, 2020.

Originally published as 'How a bungled operation left me with no teeth'



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