Mrs V, a 70 year old woman from Wales was awarded £15,000 in an out of court settlement after gum disease was left untreated for 19 years.
Mrs V first attended the defendant, Dr O, in February 1992. In April and May 1992 she had pain around two of her lower teeth and antibiotics were prescribed on both occasions. No x rays were taken and no testing was carried out.
Later in the year when Mrs V attended to have some crowns fitted, Dr O had noted that two of her bottom teeth were loose. No action was taken to investigate the problem and again no diagnosis was made.
Between October 1992 and September 2003, Mrs V attended Dr O for regular examinations and scale and polishes. In December 2003 Mrs V noticed that her two upper front teeth felt loose so went to see Dr O. She did not want to have the front teeth extracted but Dr O provided no explanation of the cause of the problem and offered no treatment to improve the condition.
Over the next three years more of Mrs V’s teeth became loose and between December 2006 and October 2010 she had a total of 8 teeth extracted and replaced by dentures.
In March 2011 Mrs V experienced severe toothache and attended Dr O for an emergency appointment. Dr O simply prescribed antibiotics and made no attempt to investigate the cause of the pain.
Later in the year while on holiday abroad, Mrs V had to attend a local dentist for an emergency appointment. The dentist took an x ray and told Mrs V that she was actually suffering from gum disease and had lost 80% of the bone around her lower teeth. Mrs V was shocked to hear the news as Dr O had never mentioned that her gums were causing her teeth to fall out – she just thought it was old age.
Upon her return from holiday Mrs V decided to change dentists and began a course of corrective dental treatment to extract the remaining teeth which were at risk of falling out, and have dentures fitted to replace them.
As a result of Dr O’s failure to recognise and alert her of her gum disease, Mrs V lost a total of 14 teeth and will lose 7 more during corrective treatment.
Dr O admitted that she failed to appropriately monitor and treat Mrs V’s gum disease but argued that Mrs V already had advanced gum disease when she first attended in 1992 and argued that her tooth loss was therefore inevitable. Nevertheless £15,000 compensation was obtained for Mrs V.
Mrs V is pleased that she has been able to bring a claim against her and said, “I never thought I would need to sue my dentist but I’m glad that I contacted the Dental Law Partnership and that they helped me get the justice I deserve”.