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Oakwood Solicitors

Dental Negligence
Claims

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treatment?

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The experts in Medical Negligence Claims

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd’s specialist Medical Negligence department has an in-house team of solicitors and legal professionals dedicated solely to this area of law.

With over 24 years of combined experience, we are dedicated to assisting clients who have suffered physically, mentally, and financially as a result of negligent medical treatment. The specialist team pursues an array of medical negligence claims ranging from prescription errors and misdiagnosis to complex birthing injury and spinal claims and everything else in between.

What is Dental Negligence?

Teeth play an important role in our appearance and it is important that your oral health is cared professionally.

We place trust in Dental Health professionals to recognise and correct any dental complaints that we may have. Mistakes and delays caused by dentists can cause significant pain and can even affect our mental wellbeing.

Some common examples of dental negligence can include:

  • Incorrect and delayed diagnosis of teeth health and even oral cancer
  • Nerve injury
  • Cosmetic dentistry
  • Periodontal Disease Misdiagnosis
  • Mistakes in treatment leading to the loss of a tooth or multiple teeth
  • Surgical Errors in extraction and root canal treatment

Here at Oakwood Solicitors, we have a lot of success in dealing with Dental Negligence Claims. Please see the linked pages to get more information on the different types of dental negligence.

What can I claim for in a dental negligence case?

If you have suffered due to Dental Negligence then you may be able to claim for the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Any loss of earnings as a result of the dental treatment
  • Further treatment that may be required including cosmetic treatment
  • Psychiatric damage

Why make a dental negligence claim?

We trust Dental Health Professionals to provide advice and treatment in order to do the best for our oral health. Sometimes this trust is betrayed and the symptoms that we may have could become worse and teeth can be lost as a result of a mistake.

Dental pain can be traumatic and can affect your daily life. Dental Health Professionals have a duty of care to correctly assess your oral health and keep you from suffering further pain and trauma.

Here at Oakwood’s we have first-hand experience dealing with people who’s lives have been changed by dental negligence. Bringing a Dental Negligence claim has allowed our clients to receive the financial support that is needed to aid in recovery.

Periodontal Disease

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is more commonly known as gum disease. 80% of people over the age of 35 are affected by the condition which, if left untreated, can have devastating implications on your teeth.

In its early stage, gingivitis can occur which involves inflammation and redness of the gums. Gingivitis can be easily treated by removing bacteria from the gumline, but untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a much more serious gum disease which causes bone destruction and tooth loss.

If you have periodontal disease, you may attend your dentist with the following symptoms:

  • Red gums
  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Tender gums
  • Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing your teeth
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Loosing teeth
  • Pus under your gums or teeth

Your dentist should treat your symptoms in their early stages by careful brushing and cleaning to prevent the development of the condition.

Untreated periodontitis can also be linked to respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, strokes and diabetes.

Can I make a claim for periodontal disease?

You may be able to make a claim for dental negligence if you presented to your dentist with symptoms of periodontal disease, but the dentist did not provide you with adequate treatment.

Your dentist may have:

  • Misdiagnosed your periodontal disease
  • Failed in your periodontal examination
  • Failed to inform you of the disease and your treatment options
  • Failed to offer adequate advice and treatment

You would also have to show that this negligent treatment caused additional dental problems above what you would have suffered in any event. For example, you may have suffered avoidable tooth loss and need a replacement.

Root Canal Treatment

What is a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment (endodontics) is a dental procedure used to treat infection at the centre of a tooth (the pulp). The infection, if not treated, damages the tooth and can spread.

You suffer from infection at the pulp your tooth when bacteria in your mouth is able to enter the tooth, which can occur after you have experienced tooth decay, leaky fillings or trauma to your teeth.

Root canal treatment is often offered as a form of treatment to prevent the removal of your tooth. During treatment, often under local anaesthetic, the nerve and pulp is firstly removed from the tooth, prior to the tooth being cleaned, filled and sealed.

Root canal treatment is often successful, with teeth in 9 out of 10 cases surviving up to 10 years after treatment. However, sometimes root canal treatment is unsuccessful, which is sometimes is as a result of negligent treatment.

What could be considered negligent root canal treatment?

 

 

Sometimes root canal treatment fails due to negligent treatment. This can include:

  • A failure to take radiographs before and after the treatment.
  • A sodium hypochlorite spillage causing you injury.
  • A file breaking in the canal and a dentist not identifying or informing you of the same.
  • A failure to use a rubber dam during the treatment allowing bacteria to enter the treated tooth and cause infection.
  • The canals being poorly irrigated.
  • The canals being inadequately filled.
  • The canals being over filled, which could cause a perforation.

As a result of the above negligent treatment, your tooth may need to be re-root treated or lost, which otherwise would not have occurred.

Retained Roots

What are retained roots, and what procedures can lead to them?

When you visit a dental practitioner, you expect to receive adequate treatment especially when it comes to a tooth requiring extraction. There are two types of procedures for a tooth extraction, this depends upon whether your tooth is visible or impacted (remains under the gum):

  1. Simple Extraction – you will receive local anaesthetic whilst a dental practitioner uses an instrument known as an “elevator” to loosen the tooth before using forceps to extract the tooth.
  2. Surgical Extraction – depending on any pre-existing medical conditions, you will receive either local or general anaesthetic. The dental practitioner, or oral surgeon, will cut into your gum with a small incision. The tooth may be broken into pieces or bone removed surrounding the tooth before it can be extracted.

Each tooth has up to 4 roots that are embedded into the jaw bone, when a tooth is extracted it is a dental practitioners duty to confirm whether any retained roots remain. If so, the dentist should inform you of your options for treatment and/or the risks of leaving the retained root in place.

What symptoms can retained roots cause?

The symptoms of a retained root may not be apparent straight away and can arise weeks, months or even years after your tooth is extracted. If you are experiencing pain that isn’t going away after several days, weeks or months, have pain in the area of the extraction after a period of time or have signs of an infection, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.

If you’ve been advised that you have a retained root following a tooth extraction and have had to undergo further surgery or multiple medications as a result of pain and/or infections, you may be eligible to make a dental negligence claim.

Tooth Extraction Claims

Wrongful extractions

A dental extraction is the permanent removal of a tooth from the socket, and is generally a routine treatment method. Unfortunately, errors can occurs which can lead to claims being made.

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and fee earners who have many years’ experience dealing with dental claims.

One of the most common enquiries we receive is for wrongful extractions. If you need an extraction of a tooth and the dentist removes the incorrect tooth in the process you may have a claim for compensation.

A successful claim would compensate you for and pain and suffering caused by the incorrect extraction.  As you will still need the correct tooth extracting you will have undergone an avoidable and painful procedure.  As well as the pain suffered you can claim for the cost of a replacement tooth which may be in the form of an implant, crown or bridge.

These tooth replacement options may need replacement over your lifetime and a claim can include the necessary repeat treatment.

Other common claims related to tooth extraction

As well as extracting the wrong tooth there are other issues that may be related to negligent treatment, these include ;

  • Roots left in the gum after extraction
  • An infection due to negligent standards
  • A fracture of the jaw
  • Damage to adjacent teeth
  • Foreign objects left in the cavity
  • Nerve injury
  • Sinus problems

How much compensation might I be eligible to claim? How is it calculated?

Compensation for dental claims varies on a case by case basis. Generally cases will be calculated with consideration of the following;

  • An award for pain and suffering – this will compensate you for any additional pain you have suffered as a result of negligent treatment.  It will also take into account social impact such as embarrassment (especially if the front teeth are effected) and change in sleeping and eating habits.
  • An award for future treatment – in cases where further treatment is needed such as the costs of a replacement tooth or remedial work. These will be factored into your award for compensation.
  • Past losses – this may include any prescription expenses, travel expenses to additional appointments.

How long do I have to claim, and what is 'Limitation'?

You have three years to bring a claim of dental negligence, from the date of negligence or your date of knowledge under the laws concerning ‘limitation’ in England and Wales. The law states that a Claimant must issue court proceedings within this time period, or else their claim would be statute barred (out of time).

Generally, we would advise you to contact us at least 12 months before the limitation period in your case is due to end.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can bring a claim?

The victim of the negligence can bring about a claim in their own right. However, it is may also be the case that the victim has passed away as a result of the negligence, or has suffered so severely that they are unable to bring about a claim as they no longer have capacity.

In such circumstances a claim can be brought about on their behalf, either by an appropriate person or litigation friend if the victim is still with us, or by the executor of the estate of surviving dependant if the victim has passed.

Our specialist team will be able to discuss whether you have a right to bring about a claim, so if you or a loved one has been affected do not hesitate to contact us.

How long do I have to claim?

Claims of this nature are subject to a three year limitation period. This means that claims have to be commenced within the Courts in three years of rather the date the negligent act occurred or the date you became aware that negligence had occurred.

In cases involving deceased victims, this limitation period commences from the date of death and in cases involving minors, the limitation period starts when they reach their 18th birthday.

The law surrounding limitation periods is complex. Our specialist team will be able to advise further.

How much is my claim worth?

It is often difficult to value dental negligence claims at their outset, given the complexities involved however we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

General damages – for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.

Special damages – for all of your out-of-pocket expenses such as travel expenses, medication costs, loss of earnings, treatment costs both past and future.

This list is not exhaustive and is very case-specific.

Why should I choose Oakwood Solicitors Ltd?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of clinical and medical negligence.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd wishes to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon or medical terms that they don’t understand and aims to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

What do I do now?

If you believe or feel you have a claim, contact us for a free initial consultation regarding your options:

carol cook
Carol Cook — Head of Medical Negligence Department

Carol joined Oakwood Solicitors in May 2017 to lead the Medical Negligence department. She handles a wide range of Clinical and Dental Negligence claims and has a specialist interest in Birth Injuries.

Carol has years of experience in handling complex clinical and Dental Negligence claims securing substantial amounts of damages for her clients. Carol studied her law degree (LLB honours) at Salford University.

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