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Personal Wellbeing Supporting Your Practice

Video Presentation: A dentist’s experience with Bell’s Palsy

Siavash PicDr. John O’Keefe, Director of Knowledge Networks at the Canadian Dental Association, spoke with Dr. Siavash Hassanpour about his experience with Bell’s Palsy. They present the perspective of a dentist who walked in the shoes of an informed patient. 






Watch the interview



Dr. Siavash Hassanpour completed his Bachelors of Science degree at the University of Toronto in Cell and Molecular Biology. He has a Masters of Science on cellular components of bone biology. Dr. Hassanpour obtained his D.D.S. degree from the University of Toronto and is now a first-year Periodontology resident at the University of Toronto. He is currently working on a clinical research trial aimed at identifying slight variation in the immune cells of patients with inflammatory diseases, such as periodontitis and systemic disease


1 Comment

  1. Thomas Gondos October 8, 2014

    I experienced Bell’s Palsy as a dental student in the third year (1976) of my dental education at U of T. Since we had already studied it in our classes and I knew an adult who had also experienced it, I was able to also self diagnose as symptoms became more pronounced.

    Mine started with the twitching of my lower right eyelid and progressed to right side facial paralysis. Within a couple of hours, I realized it was spreading and the paralysis was deepening. I was fairly certain of what it was at that point, as I also did not think I was having a stroke. And, so I called my physician and told him that I thought I had Bell’s Palsy and why. He agreed that that was the most likely diagnosis, but wanted to confirm it and met me at the emergency department of North York General Hospital for a consult with the neurologist who was there. I also received Prednisone but at a higher initial dose, for two weeks and then tapered off with progressive half doses every two days. I was also given an eye patch which I only wore at night because I couldn’t close my right eye completely.

    As a result of the Prednisone, I remember that I started to feel I was in a fog and stopped seeing patients in the clinic and only attended lectures for a while. Also being a cheek and inner-lip biter I noticed the terrible taste of the Prednisone permeated the tissues in my mouth.

    One day in the hall, an oral pathologist stopped me and asked me if it would be OK to take some pictures because they didn’t have any slides of Bells Palsy to demonstrate the condition. So we went to the audio-visual room and pictures very similar to Dr. Siavash Hassanpour’s were taken. Interestingly enough, not only did they not tell me about my hair needing combing, but I also had not shaved that day because I was only attending lectures. As a result, I was quite shocked at how I looked when I got my copies of the slides.

    If I remember correctly the full paralysis lasted about 2 to 3 weeks and was mostly recovered in about three months to the point that there was no readily apparent deficit. It was only when I really scrunched up all my neck and facial muscles that it was possible to see a slightly more relaxed right side. There seemed to be gradual improvement for up to one year. At first the most noticeable remaining muscle weakness was in the platysma muscle.

    I also found that the anxiety level of those around me was very high especially about the possibility that it was really a stroke. There is an interesting story connected to this in regard to how news spreads and gets exaggerated and how important it is to get a history from the source. I had a dental school classmate who unknown to me had a neighbour who had a relative in Detroit who knew a relative of mine in Detroit. One day this Detroit relative called up my mother in Toronto and asked her how I was doing. My mother told her that I had Bell’s Palsy, but was doing very well. She replied “Don’t give me that [story] I KNOW he had a stroke!”

    I found that the major benefit of my having had Bell’s Palsy was that when patients or their families presented with it, I could ease their level of anxiety more effectively because of my knowledge and empathy and as an example of someone who had experienced it.


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