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Understanding Common Types of Dental Claims

If you've endured harm or damage due to dental negligence, you may be eligible to bring a dental negligence claim.

Here, the specialist dental negligence claim solicitors at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors discuss what common types of dental claims there are.

Claim for dental negligence compensation

Visiting a dentist can often be intimidating. The least you anticipate when attending a dentist is receiving poor dental care and departing with more severe injuries – but unfortunately, this can occur. Despite the majority of dentists, dental nurses, dental therapists, and hygienists excelling in their roles, there are occasions when things don't go as planned. Even healthcare professionals, such as dental experts, aren't immune to human mistakes, and these can lead to intense pain and distress.

Understanding dental negligence

Dental negligence pertains to instances where a dentist doesn't provide an acceptable standard of care to their patient, resulting in injury or harm. This can encompass:

  •  Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed treatment
  • Incorrect treatment
  • Failure to obtain informed consent
  • Failure to adhere to proper sterilisation procedures 

If you've been harmed due to a dental professional and their negligent practice, you might be eligible to lodge a personal injury claim to seek compensation.

Forms of dental negligence

Dental negligence relates to any treatment by a dentist that falls below an expected standard of care and results in an injury to you. This may include experiences such as:

  • Inaccurate or delayed diagnosis (for example, of oral cancer)
  • Poor cosmetic dentistry, such as implants
  • Damage to mouth nerves
  • Removal of an incorrect tooth
  • Scarring on the face or inside the mouth
  • Poor root canal that can lead to the loss of teeth
  • General damage to teeth

Regardless of the type of dental injury or negligence you've endured, the outcome remains the same: you've likely been left in pain, with a need for additional treatment, and possibly traumatised by your experience. This isn't acceptable and could mean long-term effects on your physical and mental well-being.

Common types of dental negligence

The implications of these dental negligence cases can vary from physical harm, like infections or tooth loss, to psychological harm, such as anxiety and stress.

Oral cancer misdiagnosis

Dental professionals are obligated to accurately diagnose oral cancer promptly. If a dentist fails to diagnose oral cancer, it can lead to a delay in treatment and negatively affect the patient's prognosis.

Gum disease

Gum disease is a prevalent condition normally caused by a person’s poor oral hygiene (brushing and flossing habits) or due to genetics. Gum disease can lead to pain, bleeding, and tooth loss if not addressed. Cases for negligent treatment of gum disease usually occur when a dentist fails to diagnose gum disease at an early stage and provide appropriate treatment or refferal to a specialist for that treatment.

Errors during oral surgery

Incorrectly performed dental procedures or oral surgery can cause substantial pain and discomfort for the patient. In extreme cases, errors during oral surgery can lead to the loss of one or multiple teeth due to negligence.

Psychological harm

The physical effects of dental negligence can significantly impact a person's mental health, leading to psychological damage such as anxiety, stress, and depression.

Negligent root canal treatment

When a dentist neglects to provide proper care during a root canal procedure, causing harm or injury to the patient, the consequences can be widespread and, needless to say, painful. Common examples of negligent root canal treatment include:

  • Failure to adequately clean and shape the root canal, leading to reinfection or persistent pain
  • Perforation of the tooth or surrounding tissues during the procedure, leading to pain, swelling and tooth loss
  • Incorrect placement or sealing of the root canal filling, leading to leakage or reinfection and ultimately, tooth loss
  • Failure to diagnose or treat a fractured or damaged tooth, leading to persistent pain or further tooth damage
  • Negligence in cosmetic dentistry
  • Some common examples of cosmetic dentistry negligence include:
  • Poorly executed dental veneers or crowns leading to pain, discomfort, or an unappealing appearance
  • Incorrect placement of dental implants causing pain, infection, or nerve damage
  • Flawed teeth whitening procedures leading to damaged or sensitive teeth
  • Incorrect orthodontic treatment causing pain, discomfort, or misaligned teeth

If you've sustained harm due to negligent dental treatment, you may be eligible to bring a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your losses and expenses. This might include costs for additional dental treatment, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

What does a dentist’s duty of care entail?

A dentist’s duty of care refers to the legal responsibility dentists have to provide an acceptable standard of care to their patients. This includes the obligation to:

  • Accurately diagnose dental conditions and suggest appropriate treatment options
  • Obtain informed consent from the patient prior to performing a procedure
  • Utilise proper sterilisation techniques to prevent infections
  • Perform procedures with a reasonable level of skill and care
  • Monitor the patient’s progress and provide necessary aftercare
  • Communicate with the patient about their treatment options, potential risks and benefits
  • Maintain confidential patient records and respect the patient’s privacy

If a dentist fails to uphold their duty of care and you've suffered harm as a result, the dentist may be held accountable for dental negligence. We can guide you through the dental negligence claims process and if they believe you might have a claim, you will be able to talk to our specialist dental negligence solicitors.

Can I claim compensation for dental negligence?

One of the most challenging aspects following a personal injury is determining if you have the right to claim. If you’re feeling bewildered or unsure about your legal stance, a trained legal advisor can assist. While everyone's experience is unique, there are some questions that can help you determine if you have a claim:

  • Was your dental injury caused by someone else's negligent treatment or inaction?
  • Did the incident occur within the last three years?
  • Did you sustain an injury, or develop further symptoms or complications, following the negligent dental treatment?

Reasons to bring dental negligence claims

If you've been detrimentally affected due to someone's negligence, it's not right for you to bear the financial burden. Initiating a dental negligence claim can help you:

Obtain compensation for further treatment costs: if you've been injured due poor dental treatment due to a dentist's negligence, you may need more treatment to rectify the damage. A dental negligence claim can aid in recuperating these additional expenses.

Obtain compensation for pain and distress: the physical and emotional impact of dental negligence can be considerable. A dental negligence claim can assist in obtaining compensation for the distress and pain you've endured owing to the dentist’s negligence.

Hold the dentist responsible: submitting a dental negligence claim can render the dentist answerable for their actions and possibly deter similar occurrences to future patients.

Obtain compensation for loss of earnings: if you've had to take leave from work due to dental negligence, you might be entitled to compensation for your lost earnings.

How much time does it take to submit a claim?

Every personal injury case, including dental negligence, is different. Given the intricacies of each case, we can't predict how much compensation or the duration of your claim. However, your solicitor will strive to handle your case expediently. Generally, if your dentist accepts responsibility for your incident, your claims process will be shorter. If they dispute it, your solicitor will have to amass more evidence to support your case, which may prolong the process.

How to confirm that you were a victim of dental negligence?

Whether you experienced poor care, misdiagnosis or negligent dental work, the process for claiming dental negligence remains the same, which includes proving that negligent care took place. This involves:

  • Your dentist or dental surgery acknowledging you as a patient and agreeing to treat you
  • Your dentist breached their duty towards you (or any of their employees who had a duty of care) and that other professionals in the same position would have acted differently

Are there deadlines for submitting dental negligence claims?

In the UK, there are deadlines for submitting dental negligence claims. Typically, the deadline for filing a dental negligence claim is three years from the incident date or from the date you first became aware of the injury, whichever is later. This deadline is known as the limitation date. It's crucial to note that if you miss the deadline for filing a claim, you may be prevented from pursuing legal action and may be unable to recover compensation for your losses and expenses.

Will I need to undergo a medical assessment if I submit a dental claim?

It is likely you’ll need to undergo a medical assessment if you submit a dental negligence claim. A medical assessment will help determine your dental injury's extent and the effect that dental negligence has had on your health.

 The medical assessment is typically performed by a medical expert who isn't involved in your case. The medical expert will examine you and may request access to your medical records and any other relevant information. They'll then provide a report detailing their findings, which will be used as evidence for claiming dental negligence compensation. 

It's important to attend the medical assessment since the result of your claim will partly depend on the medical expert's findings. If you fail to attend the medical assessment, it may be more difficult to pursue your claim and you may receive a lower compensation amount.

Contact us

If you are looking to make a dental compensation claim, contact Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors today. A member of our specialist dental negligence solicitor team can assess your case and help you secure the dental compensation you deserve. To speak to a member of our team about your negligent dental treatment, call 0808 271 3278 or fill in the quick contact form to request a call back.

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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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