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My Dentist Caused Nerve Damage, What Can I Do?

Your trust in your dentist can be broken when the dentist fails to meet their obligations. Navigating the aftermath of dental nerve damage can be physically painful and emotionally draining, but it doesn't have to stay that way. By taking the right steps after your negligent dental treatment, you may be able to claim back finances and get the support you need to make a recovery.

In the following blog post, Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors guide you through understanding your rights in the face of a nerve injury and the steps you can take if you find yourself in such a position.

What is dental negligence?

Dental negligence is a term that describes substandard care in dentistry. In the UK, dentists are held to professional standards, governed by bodies like the General Dental Council (GDC). In cosmetic dentistry, these standards are not just about ensuring that your teeth look good; they are also about ensuring that procedures are safe, effective, and appropriate for the patient's needs. Each type of cosmetic dental procedure carries its own set of risks and requires a specific skill set from the dental professional.

Dentists are expected to:

  • Conduct a thorough pre-treatment assessment, including a review of the patient's medical history
  • Clearly explain the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment
  • Obtain informed consent from the patient
  • Use sterilised and well-maintained equipment
  • Administer treatments in a safe and competent manner

Negligence occurs when the care provided falls below the expected standards, leading to harm or injury. In the context of cosmetic dentistry, this could mean:

  • Failure to conduct a proper pre-treatment assessment, leading to an inappropriate treatment plan
  • Incorrectly administering anaesthesia, causing nerve damage or other complications.
  • Using faulty or non-sterile equipment, leading to infection
  • Performing the procedure incompetently, resulting in poor aesthetic outcomes, structural damage, or nerve damage

The consequences of cosmetic dental negligence can be severe, affecting not just your physical health but also your emotional well-being and self-esteem. Nerve damage, in particular, can lead to chronic pain, difficulty speaking or eating and a diminished quality of life.

How is dental negligence dealt with by law?

'Duty of care' is a fundamental principle in medical law, including dental practice. In legal terms, 'duty of care' refers to the moral or legal obligation that a healthcare provider has towards you as their patient. This requires your cosmetic dentist to act in a manner that ensures your well-being, adhering to a standard of care.

In the realm of cosmetic dentistry, the standards are set by regulatory bodies like the General Dental Council (GDC). These standards cover various aspects, such as:

  • Pre-treatment assessment: a thorough evaluation of your dental and overall health, including a review of your medical history.
  • Informed consent: clear communication about the risks, benefits and alternatives of the proposed treatment, ensuring that you can make an informed decision.
  • Procedure execution: competent and safe execution of the cosmetic dental procedure, using sterilised equipment and following best practices.

A breach of duty of care occurs when your dentist's actions or lack of action fall below the accepted standard of care, resulting in harm. In the context of cosmetic dentistry, examples of breaches could include:

  • Incorrect administration of anaesthesia: if the dentist administers too much or too little anaesthesia, or administers it incorrectly, it can lead to complications like nerve damage.
  • Failure to obtain informed consent: proceeding with a treatment without adequately informing you of the risks involved.
  • Poor technique: incompetent execution of a procedure, such as fitting veneers or crowns improperly, leading to structural damage or nerve injury.
  • Failure to diagnose or treat complications: if post-procedure complications arise and the dentist fails to diagnose or treat them in a timely manner, this could also be considered a breach.

If a breach of duty of care is established, you have the right to take legal action. This could involve filing a negligence claim against the dentist, which, if successful, could result in compensation for pain and suffering, costs of corrective treatment and loss of earnings.

Making a dental nerve damage claim

If you've experienced nerve damage or any other form of harm due to cosmetic dental negligence, you should consider making a compensation claim.

The first step in making a claim is to consult a solicitor who specialises in dental negligence - such as those at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors. In the UK, you generally have three years from the date of the incident or from the date you became aware of the negligence to make a claim, so you should call us as soon as possible.

The initial consultation

When you first call us, we will discuss your circumstances in an initial consultation, assessing whether you can make a claim. When we understand your unique situation, we will be able to advise you on what to expect from your claim, including your chances of success and how much compensation you may be able to claim.

The claims process

If you decide to proceed with your dental nerve damage claim, we will begin to collect and compile evidence to support your argument. Once we have done this, we will send a formal letter to the dental practice outlining the nature of your claim and the evidence supporting it. We will handle all of the necessary communications on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery.

The dental practice usually has four months to respond to your letter of claim. They may admit fault and offer a settlement, or they may deny the allegations. If both parties are open to it, negotiations for a settlement can take place. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to court. It is important to note that most medical negligence claims - including claims for dental nerve damage - are settled before reaching this stage.

Types of compensation

Compensation is generally calculated using two categories:

  • General damages cover the pain, suffering and loss of amenity that you have experienced due to your nerve injury.
  • Special damages cover specific financial losses, like medical bills for corrective treatment or loss of earnings.

If the negligence has led to long-term or permanent issues, you may also be compensated for future care or loss of earnings.

Contact Us

We understand that navigating the legal landscape of dental nerve damage claims can be daunting, especially when you're already dealing with the physical and emotional toll of dental negligence. By working with our experienced solicitors, you can be sure to have the best chances of making a successful dental negligence claim and deal with minimal stress while the process is happening.

To learn more, speak to our team today by calling us on 0808 120 5180, or fill out an online contact form and we will be in touch at a time convenient for you.

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Russell Sutton is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, with a comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding dental negligence cases. Russell's commitment to his clients is unmatched, as he empathises with the emotional and physical toll that dental negligence can take on people’s lives.

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