Herefordshire woman left with jagged ‘vampire fangs’ successfully sues negligent dentist for £25K
Charlotte Bateman, a 49-year-old baker from Collington, in Herefordshire, suffered terrible pain and discomfort for years as her teeth were left to drift around her mouth, forming jagged vampire-like fangs, as her gums decayed.
After being diagnosed with severe periodontal disease which went undiagnosed by her dentist for years, Charlotte sought help from specialist dental negligence solicitors, the Dental Law Partnership, to gain compensation to pay for remedial treatment. Charlotte’s case was successfully settled for £25,000 against Dr Jean-Ann Smith of Smith, Coleman and Holloman dental practice in Bromyard.
Despite raising her concerns with Dr Smith about her drifting teeth between 2008 and 2010, Charlotte’s concerns about her teeth were batted aside or put down to ‘natural movement’ occurring from old age. Daniel Kinnear, solicitor at Dental Law Partnership who pursued Charlotte’s case, disagreed: “Charlotte attended an orthodontic consultation in 2011, x-rays were taken which I was advised showed several of Charlotte’s upper and lower teeth exhibiting bone loss, and she was diagnosed with Gum disease. Charlotte is undergoing treatment to stabilise her gums, she will lose teeth in the future and the resulting gaps will need implants.
Charlotte said: “When I would visit Dr Smith my gums would bleed so much during the examinations that she had to stop and get me to rinse every time she put an instrument in my mouth. One day, when I was flossing at home and a piece of debris got pushed up and lodged in my gum – gums are not meant to be soft like that! Despite my dentist’s lack of concern, I knew something was seriously wrong.
“When I went back to see Dr Smith, I told her that I was convinced my teeth were moving, but she just said ‘oh, they will move at your age!’ But I’m only 49. My neighbour, who hadn’t seen me in a while, visited shortly after that appointment and was visibly shocked at how my teeth looked. I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want to be seen in public after that. My confidence was knocked. I retreated into myself and avoided social situations as much as possible.”
Lawyers at the Dental Law Partnership took on Charlotte’s case in March 2014, eventually reaching an out of court settlement in February 2015, after almost a year-long legal battle. Dr Jean-Ann Smith did not admit liability despite the settlement figure of £25,000.
Charlotte said: “I’d been visiting Dr Smith since 1988, so I trusted her, despite all my better instincts. All the problems with my teeth have had such a negative impact on my self-esteem. The wedding cake industry is very appearance-orientated, so looking your best is vital. I have lots of face to face contact with clients and struggle to project an air of confidence, the whole saga has also had a detrimental effect on my career. I can’t wait to have remedial treatment and finally be able to hold my head up high again.”