Health

British Man Cannot Remember Anything After Root Canal 10 Years Ago

| by Lauren Briggs

To a British man who lost his memory 10 years ago during a routine root canal, every day is March 14, 2005.

The 48-year-old father and former member of the British Armed Forces, known only as “William O.,” (his name has been altered to protect his privacy) remembers every detail of his life -- until he went to the dentist on that fateful day, the New York Daily News reported.

William returned from his grandfather’s funeral to his station in Germany the night before he lost his memory. He spent the last morning that he remembers playing volleyball in a gym. Afterwards, he stopped by his office to finish some work and then went to the dentist for a routine root canal procedure. As far as he knows, that is the last thing that happened.

“I remember getting into the chair and the dentist inserting the local anesthetic,” William told BBC.

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After that, his memory is an empty slate. He cannot remember anything for more than 90 minutes.

For the last 10 years, William has woken up every morning believing that he is stationed in Germany and has a dentist appointment. He checks his computer and finds a list of events from his wife that "continue(s) to elicit genuine surprise or astonishment each time he sees or hears about them, such as the marriage of some family friends or that a family pet has since passed away," researchers said.

The father of two forgets daily that his children are grown.

"I want to walk my daughter down the aisle and remember it," Williams said. "Should they become parents, I would like to remember that I have grandchildren, and who they are."

As far as any medical experts can tell, William is in otherwise perfect health.

“There was no reason to think that there was anything wrong psychiatrically,” medical researcher George Burgess said, according to the New York Daily News.

After ruling out a brain hemorrhage, anterograde amnesia, and memory repression, Burgess believes that a problem with William’s brain synapses, which can impact memory, is responsible for the memory loss, but even that is just speculation.

Even so, nobody knows how a dental procedure could have caused amnesia.

“That’s the million-pound question,” Burgess said.

Sources: BBC, New York Daily News
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Omar Barcena/Flickr