Crawley woman awarded £7k after dentist’s mistakes
A woman from Crawley has been awarded £7,000 in an out of court settlement after her dentist failed to refer her for specialist treatment she desperately needed.
Heather Turner, 48, sued Dr William Oliver Clinton from The Dental Surgery on Gossops Drive, after he failed to refer her for corrective orthodontic treatment and treatment to address her gum disease.
A patient of the practice for over 20 years, Heather transferred to Dr Clinton after her original family dentist retired in her late teens.
Heather said: “I had an accident as a child and this pushed my teeth back into my mouth. At the time I was told my teeth needed time to settle as I was only young, but as I got older and into my teens I wanted something done as I became more embarrassed about my teeth.”
“I was advised by Dr Clinton that this wasn’t an option, he said I was not entitled to NHS care now as I was over the age of 18. I had no reason to query this information and did not think there was any danger to my health as my regular six month check- ups carried on as normal.”
However Heather then started to experience severe bleeding of the gums, especially when she ate.
“It was horrible. My gums would bleed so severely, that when I ate a sandwich it would be covered in blood. It was even worse when I went for my check-ups and Mr Clinton would floss and clean my teeth. I would have to be wiped down as there was so much blood on my face.”
Again Heather raised her concerns with Dr Clinton, but he reassured her that her dental health was fine and again mentioned she was not entitled to NHS treatment.
“Private treatment was just something I couldn’t afford, so again I trusted his judgement,” said Heather.
When Heather’s jaw suddenly went into severe spasm she was referred by her GP to a jaw specialist at the local Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. He immediately realised that something was drastically wrong.
Heather again: “One of his first questions was why had I never had orthodontic treatment. He told me this was the most severe case of misaligned teeth (malocclusion) that he had ever seen. My top teeth were actually digging into my lower gums, causing the bleeding. I was immediately booked in to have my wisdom teeth removed.”
She added: “He also indicated that due to the severity of the condition I would have been entitled to NHS care regardless of my age.”
It took five years to put things right. Heather had to wear braces for two years before undergoing surgery which moved her jaw by 8mm to align her teeth. She then underwent an intense course of gum disease treatment to ensure she did not suffer any tooth or bone loss and then had a further three years of wearing braces.
Evidence provided to Heather’s lawyer, Jonathan Owen from leading dental negligence solicitors the Dental Law Partnership, showed that the care provided was beyond poor.
Jonathan said: “The delay in referring Heather for specialist treatment has not only resulted in a substantial expense, but a prolonged period of discomfort and misery which was completely avoidable. If she had been referred when needed it could have been a simple process to correct her issues.”
Heather concluded: “It’s very upsetting to know that this could have been sorted out years ago, but I am glad it is all resolved now and there has been recognition of Dr Clinton’s incompetence. I am still wearing retainers to make sure I have the best outcome. The amount I received will cover the costs I have paid out over the years, but does not make up for what I have been through.”
Dr Clinton did not admit liability.