A 10-year-old boy suffered a cardiac arrest during routine dental surgery to have a tooth removed, a tribunal was told yesterday.

A 10-year-old boy suffered a cardiac arrest during routine dental surgery to have a tooth removed, a tribunal was told yesterday.

Attempts to resuscitate Darren Denholm, from Armadale, West Lothian, failed despite the efforts of dental staff and doctors at Edinburgh's Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

The case was outlined by David Foskett, QC, acting for the General Dental Council, on the first day of a disciplinary hearing into the professional conduct of three dentists, Maurice Beckett, Paul Shields and Hallgier Pederson. Mr Foskett said: "This was an immense tragedy and the question that everyone asks is why?"

Darren was given the fatal anaesthetic by Dr John Evans-Appiah, a medical doctor who will appear before the General Medical Council in the autumn.

He had been referred to the Peffermill dental clinic in Edinburgh for the tooth extraction on 9 October 1998, by his local dentist, Mr Shields. Mr Pederson, a Norwegian-trained dentist, was performing the operation when things went wrong at the clinic owned byMr Beckett.

Darren's grandmother, Alice Campbell, 61, from Edinburgh, together with his mother, Islay, were at the surgery when the tragedy happened.

Mrs Campbell told the hearing that when Dr Evans-Appiah said Darren was under the anaesthetic, she left the room. "Then I heard them shouting Darren's name."

Mrs Campbell went on: "There was a lot of commotion and about 10 minutes later Mr Pederson ran out and said 'Get an ambulance now'.

"Islay then said 'Don't be silly, he was only having a tooth out'. We were being told he was dying but didn't want to believe it. They didn't tell us about the other options and we were not made aware of the risks of having a tooth out."

If the allegations of serious professional misconduct against Mr Beckett, Mr Shields and Mr Pederson are proved, the professional conduct committee has the power remove the dentists from the Dentists' Register.

All three deny serious professional misconduct, but face a string of other charges relating to the death. Philip Gaisford, for Mr Shields, said his client would be admitting the charge that he had not taken steps to satisfy himself that Darren would receive care of a high standard at Peffermill dental clinic. He would also admit that he failed to explain the reasons for the proposed extraction on the referral form and to provide adequate details of Darren's medical and dental history on the form, said Mr Gaisford.

Alan Jenkins, for Mr Beckett, said his client would be admitting all the charges he faced, except that there was insufficient space available in the surgery for Mr Pederson to carry out the operation safely, and that he only provided non-aspirating syringes for the use of dentists.

Mary O'Rourke, for Mr Pederson, told committee chairman, Professor William Laird, that her client would admit that he had previously carried out only four operations involving general anaesthetics, two of which had been supervised. In addition he would also admit that the only type of syringe available during the procedure was a non-aspirating syringe.

The hearing continues today.