Mistakes by dentists can be agonisingly painful and very expensive to put right. Remedial treatment can take a long time and cost thousands of pounds.
Serious errors by dentists can include delayed (or incorrect) diagnosis of oral cancer, nerve injuries and failed implants. Even simple mistakes can lead to lost teeth and damaged gums.
Common Errors That Can Lead To Successful ‘No Win No Fee’ Dental Claims
- Failure to diagnose and treat oral cancer in time
- Failure to diagnose and/or treat periodontal (gum) disease
- Badly performed or failed root canal treatment (RCT)
- Failed orthodontic treatment
- Failure of dental implants
- Cosmetic dentistry that goes wrong
- Removing the wrong tooth – or damaging other teeth in the process.
Failure to Diagnose Oral Cancer
Cancer must always be diagnosed and treated quickly – wherever it occurs in the body. The mouth is no exception.
Failure to diagnose oral cancer in time can lead to serious illness, reduced life expectancy or death. At best your cancer will be more serious, more painful and harder to treat than if it had been diagnosed quickly.
Oral cancer symptoms include bleeding, numbness, lumps or long-term pain in the mouth, persistent ulcers, difficulty swallowing or moving the jaw, speech problems, loose teeth and unexplained weight loss.
But sometimes a dentist can mistake these symptoms for a less serious condition.
Claiming compensation may at first seem pointless if your cancer is severe or terminal. But if you are too ill to work the money could be vital in helping to make your remaining time more comfortable and your loved ones financially secure.
Failure To Diagnose And Treat Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Gum disease is very common (affecting half the UK population) but do not underestimate it. If left unchecked it can cause serious health problems. Not just in the mouth – scientific research around the world has linked gum disease bacteria to osteoporosis, respiratory diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and some cancers (kidneys, pancreas, blood).
If your dentist ignores or fails to treat the early warning signs – such as bleeding gums – then you could eventually end up losing teeth. Any teeth undermined by severely receding gums could become loose, requiring extraction.
You could end up needing more expensive dental treatment simply because your dentist failed to deal promptly with the initial symptoms.
It seems inconceivable that a qualified and experienced dentist should fail to deal properly with such a common condition as gum disease but it happens.
Our specialist dental solicitors have been called in to help clients who lost all of their teeth because their dentists failed to act swiftly.
This could have been avoided if those dentists had monitored the patients correctly and acted sooner.
Failed Root Canal Treatment (RCT)
Root canal treatment involves removing infected, injured or dead pulp from the centre of the tooth. The infection is caused by bacteria getting in through a deep cavity or a leaking filling.
Most root canal procedures succeed but a significant number do not. Sometimes your usual dentist is incapable of curing the problem. You will then require treatment by a specialist endodontist – especially in more complex cases where the roots are hard to access.
Our lawyers regularly see cases of failed root canal treatments when:
- not all the infection has been removed from the tooth
- the treating dentist pierces the tooth (usually the root) with a tool while clearing out the infected pulp
- the root is not filled correctly, leaving space for further infection to develop – so the long, expensive and uncomfortable procedure has to be repeated.
Failed Orthodontic Treatment (Dental Braces)
Dental braces take an average of 24 months to straighten teeth. The first few weeks are the worst. It can take a week or even as long as a month to get used to the dental wire around your teeth.
During the first few days you may experience pressure and soreness (especially at mealtimes), sores on the inside of your cheeks or scratches/cuts on your tongue where it catches on the braces.
So it can be particularly distressing if – after two years – your dental braces have not had the desired effect. They have failed to straighten your crooked teeth and (at the very least) you want your money back.
Failure Of Dental Implants
Increasingly, patients are choosing to replace lost teeth with expensive implants – instead of resorting to more traditional methods such as dentures (false teeth) or a bridge.
But implants cost at least £2,000 per tooth…and they are not usually available on the NHS.
The crown fitted to the top of the implant may need replacing from time to time. But the implant screwed into your jaw should last for many years – if not the rest of your life.
If your implant fails within a few years of you having it fitted, you may have grounds for a compensation claim.
Cosmetic Dentistry Negligence
Like dental implants, cosmetic dentistry procedures have become increasingly popular over recent years. They are expensive and are not usually available on the NHS.
So when they go wrong – or fail to live up to their high price tag – you may be able to claim compensation. We see a wide range of cases of failed cosmetic procedures including:
Disappointing Or Painful Whitening
There are two types of whitening procedure: laser or gel.
Laser whitening involves painting a bleaching substance on to your teeth then shining a laser on them to activate it. The bleaching gel can cause burns or blistering if it leaks out on to your gums.
Some beauty salons offer teeth whitening but this is illegal if not supervised by a regulated professional such as a dentist or hygienist.
Whitening can last up to three years but not always. Sometimes the results are disappointing; the effect may last only a few months – especially if you smoke or you drink a lot of red wine, tea or coffee.
Badly Fitted Veneers
Veneers – either porcelain or composite – are designed to fit over your teeth to make them look better. But they do not last forever. And they can cause problems if fitted badly.
If the veneers are too large they can allow bacteria to collect. This can lead to sore and swollen gums.
Worse still, your teeth could become sensitive and painful if the dentist removes too much enamel during the fitting procedure.
And you could have problems with your bite if the veneers are not fitted correctly.
Tooth Reshaping Complications
This process involves removing a small amount of your tooth enamel. But a bad dentist can damage your teeth if they take off too much enamel. Your teeth could break.
When Basic Dental Treatment Goes Wrong
Not all dental negligence involves complex procedures such as those listed above. Many cases of patient injury occur when dentists get the basics wrong:
- extracting the wrong tooth
- damaging gums or other teeth during an extraction.
- unnecessary treatment – damaging one or more teeth
- failure to identify and treat tooth decay (cavities) in time – leading to prolonged or recurring infections.
Claim Compensation – No Win No Fee
Putting your teeth right after you have suffered as a result of medical negligence can cost thousands of pounds.
But often the specialist treatment you need to fix your teeth may not be available on the NHS. And going private can be extremely expensive.
You also deserve compensation for all the pain and inconvenience you have suffered.
Claim compensation using a No Win No Fee conditional fee arrangement – so there is no financial risk to you in the unlikely event of you losing your claim. You would be covered by insurance.
What Do I Do Next? Book A Free Chat
Our dental negligence team is led by Coles Miller Partner Chris Whittle. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and an APIL-accredited Senior Litigator.
He can advise you whether the treatment you received was sub-standard and whether you can claim compensation as a result. Contact him for more advice on how to claim.
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Partner, Head of Personal Injury Department
Partner, Head of Medical Negligence
Medical Negligence Executive
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Serious Injury Paralegal and Assistant to David Simpson