Can I Claim For Dental Negligence?


The Law Of… Sustaining Injuries From Dental Treatment

With regular check-ups recommended to ensure continued oral health, a visit to the dentist is an unavoidable fact of life for many. But what happens if dental treatment goes wrong?

Woman suffers at hands of negligent dentist

Medical Negligence claims Partner, Geoffrey Simpson-Scott, answers questions about dental negligence.

What Is Dentistry?

Dentistry is concerned with the teeth and overall oral health and can be grouped into 2 broad categories:

  • General dentistry – Concerns the health of the mouth, teeth and gums, and includes treatments for disease, filling cavities, implants and extractions, along with other more specific ministrations such as orthodontry (alignment of teeth and jaw), endodontics (the inside [pulp] of the teeth) and periodontology (the gums and supporting structures of teeth).
  • Cosmetic dentistry – Oral work carried out by private practitioners for non-medical reasons. Such as teeth whitening, veneers, implants and gum contouring.

What Types Of Dental Treatment Are There?

There is a wide range of dental procedures available for both medical and cosmetic reasons. Common treatments include:

  • Root canal surgery – Treating infection inside the tooth
  • Extraction – Removing diseased or problematic teeth
  • Implants – Surgical insertion in jawbone of a component upon which replacement teeth can be mounted
  • Fillings – Packing and sealing tooth cavities to prevent infection or infiltration of food or other contaminants
  • Veneers – Surface coverings to improve aesthetic appearance of teeth
  • Whitening – Restoring teeth to their natural colour or enhancing their whiteness.

What Can Go Wrong Due To Dental Negligence?

Dentists are expected to maintain certain strict standards when it comes to providing dental care. Failure to do so can result in injury to a patient, or the aggravation of an existing condition.

An array of complications can arise from dental negligence. Examples of these include:

  • Tooth decay – Failing to recognise the early stages of tooth decay can result in avoidable pain and otherwise unnecessary treatment or extractions
  • Cross-infection – Contagion arising from poor hygiene standards or the use of contaminated or unsterilised equipment
  • Wrongful extraction – Removal of a healthy tooth either as a result of misdiagnosis or incompetence
  • Sub-standard dental implants – Misaligned implants or ones that have been incorrectly fitted causing nerve damage or damage to surrounding teeth
  • Gum disease – Failure to diagnose and treat gum disease, leading to significant damage and costly restorative treatment
  • Infection – Caused by a mismanaged procedure, such as failing to completely remove the root during root canal surgery
  • Lack of informed consent – Carrying out work or treatment that subsequently goes wrong without advising of the risks or other options available.

If you suffered one of these or another injury which can be proven to be the result of dental negligence, you may be able to claim compensation.

What Can I Do If My Dental Treatment Went Wrong?

If your dental treatment led to avoidable suffering or further complications you should seek independent legal advice. A law firm with a specialist medical negligence department will be able to advise on whether you have grounds for a claim.

Why Should I Make A Claim For Dental Negligence?

A successful claim for dental negligence will:

  • Provide a financial settlement that will compensate you for the pain and suffering you underwent and allow you to cover the costs of any ongoing treatment or care you require
  • Raise awareness of the negligence that took place, allowing steps to be taken to ensure other patients are not affected.

How Do I Make A Compensation Claim For Dental Treatment That Went Wrong?

Simpson Millar's medical negligence team is equipped to handle often complex cases of this nature and can provide you with the necessary guidance to start your claim.

How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim For Dental Negligence?

You have 3 years from the 'date of knowledge' to begin proceedings.

'Date of knowledge' refers to when the treatment took place or when the resulting complications were diagnosed. If the 3 year period has passed, you will be unable to start a claim for compensation.

Where a child is concerned, you have until their 18th birthday before the 3 year limit applies.

What Do I Do Next?

If you have suffered as a result of dental negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. You can fund your claim via a No Win No Fee agreement. Contact Simpson Millar today.

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