A dentist can be negligent in various ways.
Many people do not realise that they may be eligible to pursue a claim for damages in clinical negligence against a Dentist, in the same way that claims can be pursued against General Practitioners or Hospitals. They therefore often choose to live their lives suffering the consequences of negligent dental treatment.
Some of the ways in which Dentists can be negligent, are discussed below:-
Failure to obtain Consent
If you have suffered injury following incorrect advice from your Dentist, you may be eligible to make a claim. If it transpires that the outcome of your dental procedure was not what you expected or the procedure that was performed was not what you agreed to, then it may be said that you did not properly consent to the procedure.
In the alternative, if you have not been provided with all of the treatment options that are available to you by your Dentist and the treatment that was provided resulted in injury, again, it may be said that you did not properly consent to the procedure. This is particularly important if you feel, had you known of alternative treatments, you would have opted for different treatment.
Substandard Performance of Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic Dentistry comprises of a number of different procedures and each of these can go wrong. Some examples include:-
- Unnecessary orthodontics, causing damage to teeth that need not have been interfered with;
- Ill-fitting veneers which may fall off, or are the wrong size and are therefore uncomfortable
- Ill-fitting crowns or bridges which are placed onto teeth that are not in a suitable condition due to pre-existing damage or decay
- Or ill-fitting crowns or bridges, which allow for food to become trapped easily and are difficult to clean
Poorly performed cosmetic dentistry can cause long term damage to your gums and teeth and in these circumstances, you may be entitled to pursue a claim for damages. As part of the claim, you will be entitled to seek the cost of any future treatment that may be required to rectify the problem caused, on a private basis.
Problems During Tooth Filling/Extraction
Tooth filling and extractions can be performed incorrectly resulting in injury, despite being relatively straightforward procedures. During an extraction, teeth can fracture. In these circumstances, a Dentist should arrange for an X-Ray to be performed. This is to check the roots of the teeth before continuing with the procedure but this is not always done.
If a Dentist fails to diagnose and treat gum disease during early stages, it can become a serious health issue. This could be considered as being negligent dental treatment, warranting a claim for damages in clinical negligence.
Delays in Diagnosing and Treating Gum Disease
It has also been known for patients to swallow or inhale teeth/fillings as they are being extracted. Sometimes, the procedure is performed negligently but other times, this is just an unfortunate accident. Either way, your Dentist must provide you with the appropriate after care advice, which may include referring you to a hospital for an X-Ray or instead, advising you of the symptoms to keep an eye out for that should prompt you to seek further medical advice. You may be entitled to compensation if you have not been provided with appropriate aftercare advice and as a result, have suffered injury that would have been avoided.
Although difficult to believe, it is not uncommon for Dentists to remove the wrong tooth; a healthy tooth. This may mean that a further extraction is required to remove the tooth that ought to have been removed. A patient may therefore be left with a second missing tooth which can be cosmetically unacceptable or can cause discomfort.
Nerves can also be damaged during tooth extraction. Whilst this can be a recognised risk that is consented to, in most cases where nerves are damaged, unsatisfactory care has been provided.
Failure to Detect Mouth Cancer
Whilst it accounts for only 2% of all cancers in the UK, mouth cancer can be difficult to diagnose. It is established that Dentists are much more likely to diagnose mouth cancer than Doctors.
Gum disease can prove fatal if mouth cancer is not detected and treated efficiently. Dentists should therefore check for any red flag symptoms at all routine appointments. A Dentist may have been negligent if they have overlooked the symptoms of oral cancer, or have failed to advise of the symptoms to look out for, particularly if someone is at high risk of developing oral cancer.
The above are just a handful of ways in which dental treatment can be negligent. If you believe that you or a family member have been a victim of negligent dental treatment, please do not hesitate to contact our team today who will be happy to discuss your concerns with you.
Our friendly team can be contacted on 0800 987 8807, or by completing the ‘Contact Us’ form.