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Case Study

LADY LOSES TOOTH AFTER DENTIST FAILS TO SPOT AND TREAT DECAY

•    Tania Hartley, a tutor from Rake, Hampshire, unnecessarily lost a tooth after her dentist failed to spot and treat decay
•    Mrs Hartley also underwent several avoidable treatments
•    £7,500 awarded in compensation

Mrs Tania Hartley, a tutor from Rake, Hampshire, has won £7,500 in compensation from her local dentist with the help of specialist dental negligence solicitors, the Dental Law Partnership.

Mrs Hartley visited her dentist, between November 2011 and August 2015.

“I’d been with the practice for a few years,” Mrs Hartley said. “I’ve always had regular check-ups so thought my teeth were in good health. But at one of my appointments, in January 2015, even when I mentioned that I was suffering from toothache and had an x-ray taken, the dentist did not spot the decay that was clearly visible on the x-ray.”

When Mrs Hartley did not hear from the surgery, she contacted them and they said that if the dentist had not got in touch, then no further treatment was necessary which surprised her. Mrs Hartley then experienced intermittent toothache throughout the rest of 2015. She saw her dentist again in August for a check-up when she again complained of toothache. At this point the dentist did identify decay and said a root filling was needed. When Mrs Hartley asked why she wasn’t contacted in January about it, her dentist said that sometimes it would subside on its own.

Following the appointment, the pain became even worse so Mrs Hartley tried to make another appointment with the dentist, but they were unavailable until October. After this, Mrs Hartley saw a number of different dentists, but chose not to see her original dentist.

“In the end, I had to attend an emergency appointment because the pain was so bad,” Mrs Hartley recalled. “The emergency dentist filled the tooth and told me that it would need root canal treatment or extraction, but there was a much higher chance of saving the tooth if I went to a specialist.”

“I saw a specialist and had root canal treatment in early December. I thought that would be the end of the problem, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. A temporary filling was placed over the root filling, but when this was taken off to fit the permanent crown it broke off the remaining tooth so the crown could not be fitted. The dentist then told me my tooth and root filling would need to be extracted.” Mrs Hartley continued.

Mrs Hartley contacted the Dental Law Partnership. Analysis of her dental records revealed that her dentist had failed to spot and treat decay that was clearly visible in X-rays taken as far back as January 2015. Had the dentist treated the decay, Mrs Hartley wouldn’t have suffered from excruciating pain and lost her tooth. It also led to months of avoidable toothache and inconvenience and Mrs Hartley has had to have an implant fitted to fill the gap.

“The whole thing was just a nightmare from start to finish,” Mrs Hartley said. “To find out it was all so easily avoidable, makes it even more frustrating. Had my dentist actually examined the X-rays properly my tooth would have been saved. Instead, I suffered months of toothache and had endless time wasted, having to reschedule work around numerous dental appointments.”

Rob Pettitt of the Dental Law Partnership commented: “The distress and pain our client experienced was completely unnecessary. If the dentist had carried out adequate treatment in the first place, all her problems could have been avoided.”

The Dental Law Partnership took on Mrs Hartley’s case in 2015. The case was successfully settled in 2018 when the dentist paid £7,500 in an out of court settlement. The dentist did not admit liability.