While many of us pretend otherwise, nobody likes going to the dentist. In reality, for most of us, the anticipated pain is much worse than the actual pain from dental treatment. Unfortunately, claims for dental negligence are relatively commonplace. Even though this can be a rather tricky area of law to prove, you must take action where your dental treatment has been sub-standard.
Even though we tend to focus on the treatment received, when it comes to dental negligence, this can include undiagnosed conditions. As you might have guessed, there are various areas of dental treatment which have attracted personal injury claims.
Undiagnosed gum disease
Gum disease, often referred to as periodontal disease, is relatively common but a disease that is relatively easy to treat if caught early. Dentists must be aware of various conditions when treating patients, one of which is gum disease. Some of the early symptoms of gum disease include:-
- Bleeding gums (especially after brushing your teeth)
- Redness of the gum
- Swollen/inflamed gums
In reality, these are symptoms which many of us would notice, so there is no reason why your dentist shouldn’t take action. Some of the more advanced symptoms of gum disease include:-
- Abscesses in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Constant unpleasant taste
- Bad breath
Unfortunately, if left undiagnosed, gum disease can, in some cases, be life-threatening. Some of the later stage symptoms include:-
- Receding gums
- Excessive saliva
- Painful gums
- Fever/high temperature
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty talking
Some people lose their teeth as a consequence of periodontal disease because the bone and gums are slowly destroyed. This has the potential to cause issues with your facial expressions, your confidence and your social life. All matters which should be considered if you pursue a negligence claim.
Wrong dental extractions
With an ever-increasing focus on healthcare and dental treatment, it is difficult to believe that dentists will extract the wrong tooth from time to time. The potential consequences of this in later life don’t bear thinking about. Some of the more common reasons for incorrect dental extractions and compensation claims include:-
- Simple mistake, extracting the wrong tooth
- Incorrect records or a misunderstanding of the information presented to the dentist
- Misreading x-rays and patient feedback
- Failure to receive consent to extract a tooth
- Failure to consider less severe courses of action
Whether a young child, teenager, or an adult in later years, teeth extraction can significantly impact a person’s confidence and social life. In later years, many people will need to consider dentures, often seen as a last resort. So, a failure of your dentist to consider any less severe treatments could be seen as negligent. Unfortunately, many people fail to realise the impact that negligent dental treatment can have on an individual.
Dental bridge claims
When carried out correctly, dental bridges can be a life-changer for many people. However, struggling with dental health, facing the extraction of multiple teeth in exchange for a bridge can be a harrowing experience. Unfortunately, not all dental bridges go to plan and sometimes, the patient is left in significant pain.
There are numerous considerations when looking at negligence in this area, including:-
- Poorly fitting bridge constantly becoming loose and falling out
- Damage to the teeth supporting the bridge
- Tooth decay as a consequence of an inappropriate bridge
- Failure to recognise teeth that are too weak to support a bridge
- Bridge fitted prematurely before gum has healed
- Failure to investigate potential allergy to material in the dental bridge
- Failure to match colour/style of the bridge with existing teeth
- Poor/lack of advice regarding after-care
- Failure to monitor bridge in the immediate aftermath
It is not difficult to realise when a bridge is either the wrong size or poorly fitted. Very often, it will work loose and fall out of your mouth. Consequently, this can cause not only physical injuries but also a degree of mental stress. Therefore, if you believe that you have been a victim of negligence regarding your dental bridge, it is worth investigating further.
Dental crown claims
Those who have received dental crown treatment will be well aware that a well-fitted crown can have an extremely positive impact on a person’s life. Thankfully, the vast majority of dental crown treatment is more than adequate and relatively long-lasting. On occasion, there will be issues that can sometimes lead to personal injury claims. Some of the more common problems include:-
- Poorly fitted/loose crown which can often fall out
- Weakening of the core when fitting the crown post/peg
- Crown cement mix is not strong enough
- Substandard posts used to support a crown
- Decay in the surrounding teeth as a direct consequence of the crown
- Substandard crown imitation tooth with metal showing
- Incorrect shape of a crown can lead to problems with your bite and eating
- Failing to colour match the new crown with existing teeth
- Incorrectly fitted crown can lead to gum disease
- Lack of follow-up advice/appointments
On occasion, a dentist will also fail to advise patients about the expected lifespan of a crown. It is also important to note that the next option may be dentures if the crown fails and the peg snaps or decays. While there is often no alternative treatment, your dentist has a duty of care to consider all options.
Dental implant claims
It is fair to say that dental treatment has shown considerable advances in recent years. One such area is implants which are now more commonplace than ever. This treatment involves quite literally attaching dental implants directly into your jawbone. While not a painless treatment, involving a period of having no teeth, the results can be stunning. However, any treatment which involves the extraction of teeth carries a degree of risk.
Some of the more common problems associated with dental implants include:-
- Failure to review the patient’s medical history in detail
- Infection as a consequence of surgical practices
- Damage to surrounding tissue, often leading to failed implants
- Sinus problems, potential nerve damage and chronic pain from incorrectly positioned implants
- Failure to recognise a weak jawbone structure not capable of holding an implant in place
- Potentially lethal allergic reactions due to negligence and failure to check with the patient before treatment
- Poor/lack of follow-up advice and appointments
With the best will in the world, the invasive nature of dental implants means there is a real risk of infection. However, where there is an infection, this does not necessarily mean that the dental practitioner has been negligent. They may be negligent with the follow-up treatment, but there are real risks associated with even the best treatment.
Dental veneer claims
While often seen as the tools of the trade for the rich and famous, dental veneers are available for everybody if you have the money. The procedure is relatively straightforward; dental porcelain is fixed in place over your existing teeth. If done correctly, they can recreate the pearly whites of old and that million-dollar smile. Unfortunately, on occasion, we have seen clients fall victim to negligence with harrowing consequences.
Some of the more common reasons for claiming compensation for dental veneer treatment include:-
- Veneers that are too big or too small, impacting your smile and bite
- Loose-fitting veneers can often create dark lines on your teeth that look horrendous
- Bacterial infection where the gap between the veneer and underlying tooth surface is left exposed
- Removal of enamel which can lead to inflamed and sensitive teeth
- Failure to use the appropriate colour of veneer
- Inadequate follow-up advice/appointments
- Failure to warn the patient of inherent risks associated with dental veneers
As we touched on above, a well-fitting veneer can significantly enhance a person’s smile and confidence. On the flip side, an ill-fitting veneer can ruin a person’s confidence and impact their social life substantially. So, if you’re paying the price for negligent dental veneer treatment, you have every right to pursue compensation.
Akin to hairdressing, dental treatment is a highly personal service that can considerably impact your confidence and social life. As with any other medical profession, all dentists have a duty of care to their patient’s, taking in several issues. While it can sometimes be challenging to prove negligence, where you believe your treatment has been substandard, you have every right to pursue answers.