Dental negligence: what to do when it affects you

Medical negligence is one of the worst betrayals. You seek out assistance for a health concern only to be let down and forced to suffer another problem.

A fairly common assumption is that this only affects the body. But your teeth are equally at risk of misdiagnosis, poor care or nerve damage, among other issues.

What counts as dental negligence?

There aren’t many experiences that make us as nervous as a visit to the dentist. When anxiety levels may already be so high, it is particularly hurtful when something goes wrong.

If you’ve suffered from the following problems, you may have suffered from dental negligence:

  • Damage to your teeth
  • Dental nerve damage
  • Periodontal disease misdiagnosis
  • Gum damage
  • Poor restorative dentistry
  • Substandard root canal treatment
  • Damage caused by teeth whitening
  • Oral surgery mistakes
  • Poor bridge work
  • Substandard dental implants

You may also have suffered from negligence if you have experienced substandard cosmetic dentistry problems.

In addition, if you have had oral cancer misdiagnosed or suffered a delayed diagnosis, this could count as dental negligence. This is because the disease presents with symptoms your dentist should recognise, including mouth ulcers, loose teeth, white or red patches in the mouth and unexplained lumps in the mouth or neck.

Could I make a claim for compensation?

If your dentist carried out substandard work on your teeth and left you in pain as a result, you could be entitled to make a dental claim for compensation.

You could be able to make a claim for compensation for your injuries or illness if you suffered this negligence in the last three years or were made aware of it in that period.

Dental negligence can have resulting impacts on your mental health, leaving you more anxious and stressed about having to visit the dentist or other healthcare provider again. It can also affect your financial situation if you’ve then had to pay to have the substandard work corrected.

If you have suffered this kind of financial loss, this could be taken into account when your compensation is decided. The pain and suffering you have experienced will also be considered, as will any ongoing treatment you may require.

This means that the amount you receive for a successful claim will depend on your individual circumstances.

Who can I claim against?

If you have experienced negligence, you can make a claim against an NHS or private dentist. The only difference between the two is the way you go about making the claim.

When your dentist NHS, the process will be handled on their side through NHS Resolution, the body responsible for managing claims. NHS Resolution has a separate budget to the main health service, so you won’t be claiming directly against the NHS.

Meanwhile, when claiming against a private dentist, you will claim against their liability insurance provider. The General Medical Council has stated: “If a patient has suffered harm as a result of a doctor’s negligence, it’s important that doctors have adequate and appropriate insurance or indemnity to compensate the patient.”

Making a claim against a private dentist may be a slightly longer process than claiming against the NHS, but your solicitor will be able to inform you of how long you can expect it to take.

Image copyright Deborah Catalano.