What is Dental Negligence / Malpractice

What is Dental Negligence?

Dental malpractice, or what is usually referred to as dental negligence, is best defined as an avoidable injury caused by a dentist who fails, or is negligent in his work. If you have a case where a dentist has performed poorly, negligently or inappropriately and that treatment results in dental injury or harm being caused then this can lead to a dental negligence claim for compensation. A dental negligence claim then, is a legal action that is a sort of medical negligence case that you can bring if you have been injured. Just as in clinical negligence, a dental claim can be made even if you have suffered only a psychological injury. In many cases  the suffering caused by the injury is just one small part of the claim as financial loss, expenses, treatment costs, refunds and future treatment costs, as a result of a dentist’s negligent work can all be reclaimed.  Call us at Law-Med, to determine what expenses may relate to your claim and how far the claim could extend. 

What is a Dental Injury?

  • Failing to diagnose or treat tooth decay or gum disease

  • Wrongful extraction of teeth

  • Surgical error, such as the mishandling of an extraction or root canal treatment

  • Injury involving crowns, implants or veneers

  • Tooth whitening claims

  • Damage to facial nerves or jaw during a dental procedure

  • Injuries associated with the use of dental anesthetic

  • Failing to warn patients of the risks involved in dental treatment.

  • damage to the gum or the cheek from incorrect techniques.

  • Failing to deal with an infection or abscess. 

Complex Dental Claims

Negligent root canal treatment

Root canal treatment is common and is usually carried out to treat either root infections or defective fillings. Dental negligence in a root canal treatment can cause complications such as fractured teeth, dental instrument fracture and failing to remove infection before attaching the crown. If your dental practitioner provided a poor standard of treatment leading to any of these complications, you may be able to make a dental claim.

Oral cancer misdiagnosis

Oral cancer presents symptoms including mouth ulcers, lumps in the mouth or neck, loose teeth, numbness and red or white patches. The condition must be treated quickly. If you visited your dental practitioner with these symptoms and they failed to diagnose you or delayed your treatment, you may be entitled to make a dental claim.

Incorrect fitting of a crown or bridges

Crowns cover a damaged tooth to provide extra protection. Bridges are constructions designed to fill gaps where real teeth are missing. Poorly fitted bridgework can cause discomfort or fail prematurely. If your crown or bridge was placed incorrectly and you have suffered as a result, you should contact us about making a dental claim.

Mistakes during oral surgery

When you have oral surgery, all the risks should be clearly explained to you beforehand so that you can decide whether you'd like to go ahead with the treatment.

How Do I Make A Dental Claim

In any dental negligence action you should contact a solicitor at the first opportunity in order to ensure that a fully documented investigation can commence promptly. You should be aware that these cases are at the heart of them professional negligence actions, they are not to be tackled yourself.  Law - Med Solicitors are all approved by the Law Society for their specialist credentials and they will map out for you the best procedure for investigating and preparing your case for the best and most rapid resolution. 

"I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a dental claim until I spoke to you"

"The dental restoration fees you got me have completely restored my smile and my confidence"

"I was astonished at the amount of detail the professional report covered about my dental health, it was amazing"

Will I have to go to a Dentist?

In any dental negligence action the first report by a Dental expert is on the subject of breach and causation. In short that report is concerned with whether there has been any professional misconduct. That report  is normally capable of being produced without an examination of the patient. So a review of the dental records and crucially the radiography is enough to warrant a report based on expert opinion. 

In most cases, it will also be necessary to get a second report on the treatment required to get you back to normal and in fact to comment on the degree of injury and suffering you have had to contend with as a direct result of the negligence outlined in the first report. For this second "condition and prognosis" report, it is normally necessary to have a patient examined. 

As we move foward in terms of the quality of evidence that can be prodcued from imagery. Patient examinations are starting to become rare, this is largely because of the increasing availability of high quality digital imagery. In some cases then you may have to attend a clinic to have a OPG or CT scan but no examination takes place. Generally though, if your claim requires evidence to be given in court, generally a physical examination will be undertaken. 

Will I have to go to Court?

It is not possible to state at the outset whether or not any action will go all the way to a court hearing or trial. What can be said is that costs of going to trial are nearly always disproportionate to the costs of a simple dental negligence action. 

Set inside this frame, it is unlikely that most actions will end up in court, however, It can not be ruled out and every Claimant should start an action knowing that this may not be avoidable if the Defendant wishes it. 

Can Anything Go Wrong with a Dental Claim?

As long as your claim is properly investigated and supported by expert evidence then there is unlikely to be a problem. A few dentists retire abroad every year and it is often difficult to get to the indemnity of these people. They have no longer the threat of disciplinary action hanging over them and they tend to rely upon the costs and complexity of bringing them before the courts internationally. However, almost every dentist you will ever meet is perfectly aware that mistakes often occur regardless of the experience of the dentist and that is why insurance exists. They tend by and large to cooperate with the handling of both complaints and of claims. 

Putting you at the Heart of the Dental Claim

We believe that we are different because we are better, we believe that the reason for our success is that we listen to what our clients really want and react accordingly. We also believe that you will refer our services and that is what motivates us to keep improving and stay in front of our competitors. We only offer services in which we have genuine expertise and we believe you will know that from the first conversation. 

All Solicitors approved by Law-Med are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and carry  full indemnification 

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Law-Med Solicitors

Blake House

Blake Street

York

YO1 8QG