Dental Negligence Claims

It is nerve wracking to go to the dentist even though most visits are simple and over quickly and painlessly.

If the dentist does makes a mistake and fails to care for you in a professional manner or causes damage that could have been avoided, you may have a claim.

Are You Suffering Because of Dental Negligence?

One in ten medical claims are dental related.

Dental negligence is defined in two types of legal claims; when one who practices dentistry mistreats a patient through an erroneous conclusion and/or a failure to act, and using a deficient or incompetent dental technique. Inferior dental work can cause negative effects for the remainder of the patients life.

A List of Dental Issues Eligible for Damage Claims

1. Misdiagnosis

If the dental expert fails to properly diagnose the dental problem or wrongly identifies the situation, it can lead to wrong treatment solutions. Executing the wrong medical care can cause serious issues for the patient. Administering proper diagnosis and correct treatment is expected of a professional. Of the utmost importance is diagnosing infected gums and teeth before continuing dental repairs. Infections can lead to extreme illnesses and even brain damage. This is a serious charge from which a patient can claim medical negligence.

2. Inadequate Dental Techniques

Serious complications arise when the dentist does not use the exact entailed method in the dental repair. Poor technique leads to serious consequences for the patient. One example might be extracting a tooth but leaving root sections intact. This does not alleviate pain.

Additional inadequate methods of repair;

  • Damage to the inferior Alveolar nerve while removing a wisdom tooth
  • Bite malocclusion due to wrong procedures
  • Faulty restoration of a broken tooth
  • Failure to inform the patient of the side effects of medication
  • Any of these deficient methods are considered negligence

3. Failed cosmetic procedures

Crowns, veneers, implants and bridges are expensive time consuming procedures that demand a complete and thorough assessment of the patients oral health. If the dentist is deficient in judgement of the necessary work, it could result in serious problems for the patient. The joining section between the tooth and gum is filled with nerves. Imprecise treatment can cause nerve damage, numbness and/or pain. Dental implants are a complicated surgery, taking months to completely heal. This requires attention from the dentist on a regular basis. If you have suffered needlessly because the dentist made mistakes, you have a claim. You deserve compensation.

4. Cavity Treatment

Filling cavities is a process that can subdue general oral health, deterioration and cure pain. But failing to perform the procedure correctly or wrongly administering anaesthesia can lead to pain, infection and additional dental attention. All of which leads to more expense. An experienced dental negligence solicitor can assist you in a case if you experience this kind of careless treatment.

5. Botched Extractions

Suffering complications from a mishandled tooth extraction equals a claim if the patient is left with blood poisoning, nerve damage, injury or deterioration of adjacent teeth. Advanced gum disease is also a claim for negligence, as well as administering the wrong antibiotics before surgery. Life threatening infections leading to death are a possibility.

6. Dental Implants

Dental implants do not always connect with the mouth and gum tissue. When this happens infection can lead to gum loss, additional tooth casualties and even infection in the jaw. If you have experienced dental implants gone wrong, call a solicitor.

7. Peridontal Disease

Peridental disease requires frequent x-rays in order to diagnose and attend infections in a timely manner. Failure to do so can cause serious consequences for the patient. It is negligent for the dentist to ignore his duty to the patient.

8. Orthodontics Complications

Treatment complications arise if the dental expert fails to routinely take x-rays of the patients teeth. Loss of additional teeth, failure to prevent infections and pain are worthy of compensation to the patient.

9. Dental Anzesthesia

Fatalities tied to failed anaesthesia were generally because of extractions. Failing to take particular care while attending a patient with anaesthesia can lead to illness and death.

10. Injections to a Nerve

If the dentist hit a nerve and the patient informed him of the immediate pain, the dentist is obligated to remove the needle. It can cause permanent damage to primary nerves and the dentist is responsible for follow up care and attendance to the injury.

11. Adverse Drug Reactions

Many illnesses and even death are caused by the dentist administering contraindicated drugs by the patients medical history. This kind of inattentive, careless practice is unacceptable.

If you should find yourself in any of these complaints against a dentist, contact a solicitor.

Complaints should be handled a particular way to ensure the patient receives compensation required for recovery of the treatment. Hopefully when this patient recovers physically and financially, another patron will be prevented from suffering the same way. Seeking compensation for financial loss as well as pain and other adverse developments may be the only way to resolve the negligence.

dentist at work

Positive Settlement Results from Claims

A 51 year old man received £4,750 in respect of injuries sustained as a failure to promptly diagnose and treat dental caries at UR7.

In another case; A 43 year old man received £7,250 in respect of defendant's use of reasonable skill and care during the extraction of UL7.

Additionally; A 46 year old claimant received £17,500 in respect of the defendants failure to diagnose and treat periodontal disease.

A Four Year Failed Regime

In this case a man with a congenital condition affecting his tooth enamel had all his teeth crowned at the age of 21 to protect them. He was extremely attentive to his problem and took excellent care of his teeth. He saw his dentist (altogether three in the practice) every six months or more frequently when necessary, and did his part to brush and floss daily. Over the time of four years he was told his teeth were fine, he was doing well.

He was in pain when he went back to the dentist after numerous visits over the four year period. Dental x-rays showed two upper and one lower decayed teeth. The dentist apparently missed one, omitting treatment to a fourth cavity. One month later he returned to the dentist who spied the cavity that was missed the previous month. The dentist suggested crowns and a root canal as treatment for the four teeth. Two months later during another procedure at the same dental office he was told he needed yet another tooth pulled. Distressed, the patient sought relief with a dental law solicitor.

The Conclusion

The patient was awarded £9000 for the avoidable loss of his teeth and the pain during the time he spent over the four year period with the dentists. None of the dentists admitted liability, but the patient proved his claim. He kept a record of all his appointments over the previous four years and won the case.

Advice from a Solicitor on Negligence of Procedures

If you suffer damage due to the dentist ignoring any of the following procedures, it may result in a claim against the dentist.

Tooth decay is primarily caused by a build up of plaque. Regular dental visits can clean this bacteria from teeth, which along with pertinent daily care by the patient can keep teeth clean and decay free.

If the plaque build up is ignored it will eat through the hard exterior into the softer interior of the tooth. As it progresses one may experience sensitivity to heat and cold from food and drinks. When the decay reaches the nerves pain will result and possibly infection.

Brush and floss twice a day and see the dentist every six months. Request advice on how to avoid decay and how to better care for your teeth. The results of allowing teeth to decay to the point of pain is expensive and can result in losing them.

If your dentist is remiss in treating your teeth or informing you what to do, you may need the aid of a solicitor.

Gum disease is preventable with daily attention to dental hygiene and regular dental visits. Although early gum disease is treatable, left undiagnosed or untreated it will cause pain, infections and tooth loss. Gingivitis (gum disease) is caused by plaque build up on teeth. The plaque causes bad breath, sore, red or bleeding gums. Left alone it ultimately affect the jaw bone. This is known as periodontal disease at this point.

If poriodental disease is not medically cared for it will lead to gum infections, gum recession, pain, loose teeth and tooth loss.

Smoking influences gum disease, as do some illnesses such as diabetes. Twice a day brushing and flossing along with regular dental check ups is a necessity to prevent problems. The dentist has a duty to care for your mouth, advise you on a course to resolve the problem and tell you if you need the advice of another dental professional. Severe health problems can be caused by not attending to gum disease as soon as possible. Bleeding gums, pain or sensitivity are signs you need to seek the care of a dental professional.

If your personal dentist did not notice the symptoms during your regular visits, you should seek the guidance of a solicitor.

dentist at work

Root canal treatment is a procedure to save an infected tooth. When the bacteria enters the tooth pulp, pain and trauma develop. The likelihood of gum disease, decay and abscessed neighbouring teeth is not understated. x-rays are the only way to be certain of the damage. The dentist may refer the patient to an endodentist, a specialist in this sort of teeth problems. It will be necessary to anaesthetise the patient in order to reach the canals of the teeth. Additional x-rays will be taken a few days after the surgery to check the work and possibly add a crown to protect the teeth. Any residual pain or infection should be addressed immediately.

The dentist has a duty to inform you of all steps being taken and the risks involved in the procedure.

If the procedure is caused by the dentist, who did not take care of the teeth in question properly, you may have a case. If you are not satisfied with the results, and efforts to reach a satisfactory conclusion with the dental professional are not productive, see a solicitor.

Free Dental Negligence Legal Advice

Before continuing, call legal practices to request a free consultation in person, by phone or email with a solicitor familiar with Dental Law. It costs nothing to ask and most practices are willing to assist you with a free session to get started.

If you are interested in no win no fee then it would be a good idea to read our guide to conditional fee arrangements.

Legal Action

Specialists in Dental Law are the experts to assist you in recovering damages if you are in pain, experienced negative consequences or suffered loss of earnings as a result of negligence. You deserve compensation for infections, other illnesses or loss of teeth due to inadequate dental care. Remuneration and consideration for pain as well as payment for ensuing costs due to negligent dental care must be satisfactory. Choosing the right solicitor is important, one who has the knowledge, motivation and skills required to achieve success. Remember, time is significant in making a claim in order to achieve results. Keep good records of the details and act on the claim as soon as it becomes clear there is a problem you cannot resolve.

The British Dental Journal Facts

The BDJ investigated factors influencing the diagnosis and management of periodontal disease by general dental practitioners. The intention was to identify how practitioners came to the conclusion of periodontal disease.

Conducted in 2 stages: First of all, analysis of returns to the Scottish Dental Practice Board.

Second, a data collection through the mail, dispersed to five hundred (27%) of Scottish general dental practitioners.

Results: Three hundred seventy--four of the questionnaires (75%) were returned. The conclusion of the information was that the majority of visits were comprised of simple scale and polish. Less than .02% of all visits were for non-surgical periodontal treatment. Most respondents were confident in their ability to identify periodontal disease, 40% of respondents were sure of their ability to treat the disease. The dental experts explained the patients were a hindrance to disease management. Time management problems and low level fees were seen from half the respondents as major problems.

Outcome: Patients need to be made to understand the necessity for periodontal medical care and the consequences of not obtaining proper treatment. There is a need to develop an office clinical guideline and fiscal arrangements to begin such provisions.

dentist at work

General Dental Council (GDC)

The General Dental Council regulates dentists and other dental experts in the UK. This includes, but is not limited to; clinical dental technicians, nurses, dental therapists, dental hygienists and orthodontists. Registration with the GDC is required if anyone in the dental profession is to work in the UK.

If a dental professional is not suitable in qualified ability or behaviour, the GDC will take action to prevent them from continuing to work in the UK. Patients may also lodge a complaint if a dental employee is believed to not be registered with the GDC, and hence is operating illegally.

Follow the Steps to Recover Financially

The steps to follow for your complaint should first involve the dentist or the dental practice manager. Write/type your complaint clearly and concisely, summarised with the facts. State the outcome you expect, ask questions pertaining to your problem and do not get emotional, this is business. Keep photocopies. The dental practice has three days to respond.

You may decide to accept one of the responses:

1. The dental office apologises and answers any questions you have. They may offer free remedial treatment with the same or another dentist at the practice. They might suggest a refund if you do not want to see their dentist. It is up to you if this achieves your goal to accept or reject the offer.

2. The practice apologises but neither responds to your questions or complaints, nor offers a refund or any kind of remuneration.

3. The practice ignores your letters and complaints, you may send a copy of the original letter, but still do not receive a response.

NHS or Private Treatment?

If you received treatment on the NHS, the dentist should follow the NHS complaint process. If your treatment was private, then the dental practice will have its own procedure.

If the results of your attempts to resolve the problem are unsatisfactory at this level, contact the GDC at 0207 887 3800. However, at this point in the complaint, the GDC will only deal with the failure to follow guidelines.

The Next Step for the Dental Complaints Service

If you are not satisfied with the results, the Dental Complaints Service (DCS) can help you in reaching an acceptable decision.

The DCS oversees the NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals)

If you prefer to not deal with the dentist, you may contact NHS England.

Telephone numbers and addresses may be found at: www.pals.nhs.uk. PALS investigates dental complaints, usually without much success. Bureaucracy sometimes gets in the way of the examination. Eventually you will be informed of the outcome and their appreciation for bringing the matter to their attention. Their remit does not allow them to address fees or expenses. You may use a negative report from them as a base for taking your complaint further.

Assuming you are not satisfied with this answer, you may refer the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman who works independently of the NHS and government.

The Next Level of DCS

This level is for treatment provided either completely or in part on a private contract. This department of the DCS is very competent and only deals with dental issues. The web page is www.dentalcomplaints.org.uk and the telephone number is 0845 6120 540.

The dental branch handles over eleven thousand calls a year, and closes about two--thirds within a week. In 2008-2009 the DCS refunds amounted to £106,811. Awards maximise at twice the fee in dispute. If a resolve cannot be reached, the complainant may meet with a panel of trained volunteers, two lay and one professional person. Last year there were eight such complaint panels. This option cannot be taken concurrently with litigation in court.

The County Court

This is a fairly simple do it yourself procedure with County Court brochures. This suits the purpose of goods, in the case of dentistry includes crowns, dentures and bridges to be considered under the 1979 Sale of Goods Act, amended in 1994. (You may observe this at www.consumereducation.org.uk.) This law considers the dental goods; dentures, crowns and bridges must be fit for the purpose they were intended and of acceptable characteristics. If a denture does not fit, a crown is too loose or a bridge of unacceptable colour the patient should go to another dental expert for replacement. The most one will pay is £198 (as of 2009) the court fee is moderate at £30. It is a fairly simple act.