Specialist dental negligence solicitors, the Dental Law Partnership, have won £28,500 in damages for a Liverpool woman after three separate dentists failed to spot gum disease over a 15-year period resulting in significant jawbone loss and the imminent loss at least five teeth.
Miss A, has recently won an 18-month legal battle against three separate dentists; Dr X, Dr Y and Dr Z, all of whom failed to diagnose the onset of severe gum disease which was only picked up once she was referred to an orthodontist in 2013.
Associate solicitor, Heather Owen at the Dental Law Partnership, said: “This case is a classic example of malpractice from three dentists at three different practices. Due to their negligence, Miss A has suffered years of pain and suffering and irreversible bone loss which could mean even more tooth loss. The shocking thing is that all of this could have been easily avoided and treated, if it had been picked up at an early stage.
Miss A had been seeing her first dentist, Dr X at a dental practice in Liverpool since 1999. In 2008, she changed her dentist to Dr Y at another dental surgery. In 2010, for cosmetic reasons, she decided to address an existing gap in her teeth that had been causing a niggling anxiety about her appearance for years. She attended a private cosmetic dental practice in Bootle where she saw Dr Z who fitted her with a brace to try to correct the gap in her teeth.
After around four months, the brace was replaced with several different retainers but they never seemed to fit correctly. This continued for around another three years and, during this time, Miss A started to experience bleeding from her teeth so continued to see Dr Y for regular dental check-ups.
Miss A explained: “It was so embarrassing. Being a teacher, you are constantly ‘on show’ so having teeth that would bleed regularly and without warning was very traumatic for everyone but especially upsetting for me.”
In 2013 after continued problems with her retainer, Dr Z referred Miss A to a specialist orthodontist. X-rays confirmed that she had severe bone loss in her jaw due to the underlying gum disease. The orthodontist recommended that she request a referral to a specialist dental hospital from her NHS dentist, Dr Y.
She returned to her original NHS dentist in 2013 but Dr Y had left so she saw a different dentist who referred her to Liverpool Dental Hospital. It was here that she was given in-depth X-rays and told that she had irreversible bone loss in her jaw and that she would lose one of her front teeth imminently and an additional four teeth soon after. The hospital also said that there was a possibility that she may lose further teeth in the future.
“I was absolutely devastated,” continued Miss A, “I felt a real injustice – If it’s something you’ve caused yourself than you have to live with it but as this was third-party negligence, it’s so unfair and something which could and should have been avoided.
“You put your faith in dentists and just assume they will act in your best interests. We should be able to trust our dentist but my case has shown that you can’t always do that and so perhaps, as patients, we should question our dentist more to make sure they are looking after us properly.”
Miss A had heard of specialist dental negligence law firm, Dental Law Partnership through a friend and so contacted the firm to see if it could help her. In September 2013, Dental Law Partnership took on her case and 18 months later, settled her claim out of court against all three defendants for £28,500. However, neither Dr X, Dr Y nor Dr Z admitted liability.
Miss A concluded: “The Dental Law Partnership was brilliant, very efficient and professional and always kept me up-to-date with what was happening on the case and making sure that I understood everything. They made me feel important and like I was the only client they had.
“The settlement will pay for the treatment I have had to incur already and also some future work. It’s not a reward and ultimately I have lost as I should have never had to bring about this legal action and had all this treatment if my dentists had just done their jobs properly.
“It’s shocking at just how much this whole episode has affected my confidence. I used to have a very active social life but now I don’t go out, I don’t want to talk to people and don’t even want to smile because it’s embarrassing – it’s made me feel really down personally. That’s why I want to make sure that no-one else has to suffer by going through this – it’s really horrendous and has a huge impact on you.”