A run-of-the-mill trip to the dentist for a 60-year-old man from Illinois in the US turned into anything but a normal occasion with the unthinkable happened.

Right at a crucial moment during his dental procedure, the man inhaled sharply right before an innocent cough – and accidentally breathed in the dentist’s drill bit, resulting in an emergency trip to the hospital.

In recounting the terrifying incident, Tom Jozsi said that he was at the dentist getting a tooth filed when he was told he had “swallowed” the tool. However, doctors later determined that he had “inhaled” it right before he coughed, sending the 2.5cm drill bit deep into the lung.

“I didn’t really even feel it going down. All I felt was a cough. When they did the CT scan they realised, ‘You didn’t swallow it. You inhaled it,’” he said.

Dr Abdul Alraiyes, at Aurora Medical Center-Kenosha in Wisconsin, said the bit was so deep that normal scopes couldn’t reach it. Jozsi said he was told that if it couldn’t be taken out, part of his lung would have to be removed.

Alraiyes and his medical team decided to try a newer device to remove the object – one that’s designed for early detection of cancer. They were able to pull out the drill piece without harm.

“I was never so happy as when I opened my eyes, and I saw him with a smile under that mask shaking a little plastic container with the tool in it,” Jozsi said.

Joszki said he now keeps the drill bit on a shelf at home.

Images: Getty Images & NBC

This article first appeared on OverSixty.