• 69-year-old Patricia Dear had to have her dental implant surgically removed after her dentist didn’t fit it properly • She suffered extensive discomfort • £5000 awarded in compensation
Mrs Patricia Dear, a 69-year-old retiree from Cuffley, Hertfordshire, has won £5000, in compensation from her local dentist with the help of specialist dental negligence solicitors, the Dental Law Partnership. Her dentist’s failure to properly fit her implant led to months of severe discomfort and the eventual surgical extraction of the implant.
Mrs Dear visited Dr Gert Van Zyl from September 2015 to December 2015 at Cockfosters Dental Practice.
“I went to visit my usual dentist in August because one of my front teeth was loose,” Mrs Dear said. “My dentist recommended implants to permanently solve the issue, so next month I went to see Dr Van Zyl to discuss the treatment.”
Dr Van Zyl told Mrs Dear that he would extract her front tooth, which was already loose, and fit an implant.
“I thought this was all part of the aging process,” Mrs Dear said. “I thought my gums had become weaker with age so that’s why my teeth were coming loose. I had been visiting the practice since the mid-90s so trusted that what was being recommended to me would be the best course of action.”
In November, Dr Van Zyl took impressions for a temporary denture to replace Mrs Dear’s front tooth and in December fitted the implant itself.
“I was very anxious as the procedure entailed cutting my gum open and inserting a bone graft then fitting a screw in” Mrs Dear recalled. “I then had to take antibiotics, probiotics and painkillers over the Christmas period. I couldn’t eat properly and was in a lot of discomfort. I thought it would all be worth it in the end though, when the implant settled down and I had my front tooth back.”
“I tried to make an appointment with Dr Van Zyl,” Mrs Dear said. “But I was shocked to hear he had left to go to South Africa.”
The Clinical Director of the practice told Mrs Dear that the implant had not imbedded properly in her jaw due to bone loss, and the procedure should not have been carried out in the first place, and that she also was suffering from infection. He then extracted the implant and she had to wait for the gum to heal.
“I felt thoroughly let down,” Mrs Dear said. “I knew something was wrong when I could still feel the screw in my gums in January. Then, when the Clinical Director of the practice informed me that I had to claim against the Dr Van Zyl myself, as the practice would not reimburse me, I couldn’t believe that they felt no responsibility and I was left to flounder.
“I was put through a nasty procedure but kept thinking it will all be worth it to have my front teeth back. To find out it was all for nothing was horrible. I couldn’t believe my trust had been betrayed like that,” she continued.
Mrs Dear contacted the Dental Law Partnership. Analysis of her dental records revealed that Dr Van Zyl had failed to use reasonable skill and care in the planning and provision of Mrs Dear’s implant. He had placed the implant directly into the extraction socket and also failed to consider the condition of Mrs Dear’s gums and the lack of bone structure to support an implant. This directly led to the implant having to be surgically removed.
Jenny Wood 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 Dear’s case in 2016. The case was successfully settled in 2019 when the dentists paid £5000 in an out of court settlement. The dentist did not admit liability.