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Dental Complaints

Complaining About Dentists

If you have been the victim of substandard dental work, you will know the long-term effects that it can have on your life. But what can you do to put things right?


See if you have a case for dental negligence:

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or call us free on: 0800 0853 823

Do you want to make a complaint about your dentist but aren’t sure where to start? Dental Law is here to help.

When it comes to dentist complaints, the options available to you can feel tricky to navigate. Every situation needs to be handled differently, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you take action.

At Dental Law, we’re a specialist firm of dental negligence solicitors, representing patients in the majority of the dental negligence claims in action in England and Wales today. Established in August 2000, our firm features a qualified team of both dentists and solicitors who have a vast breadth of knowledge in dealing with dentist complaints.

If you’ve decided to make a dentist complaint and have concluded that you want to pursue a compensation claim due to poor dental treatment, we can check to see if you’re eligible for a claim and go from there. However, you don’t need to make a complaint to pursue legal action, so if you’d like to go straight to making a claim, request a callback with Dental Law today to see what your next steps should be.

If you’d like to find out more about what we cover, more information can be found on our Types of Dental Negligence Claim page


Are You Unhappy with Your Dental Treatment? Find Out How to Make a Complaint

If you have suffered dental negligence, you may choose to make a formal complaint about your treatment. By making an official complaint, you may be able to gain a refund for the treatment you paid for, but this won’t cover remedial treatment. If you would like to gain financial redress, a dental negligence claim would need to be made – you don’t need to make a formal complaint to make a claim.

Making a complaint may also raise awareness of the issue and ensure that other people don’t suffer the same negligence that you’ve experienced.

Depending on your circumstances, you might be entitled to a refund or the treatment being completed again – this is something you’ll need to talk to your dentist about first. If further treatment is required following NHS treatment, in most cases this will be covered for free so long as the remedial treatment is carried out within one year of the original dental work.

Once you’ve decided to make a complaint about your dentist, you’ll need to narrow your options down. The route you take will likely depend on a number of things, including:

  • The type of dental work carried out
  • The length of time between the work and your complaint
  • Whether the work was completed at a private or NHS practice


Raising a Complaint Directly with Your Dentist

The first step is usually to raise a complaint directly with your dentist. Dental complaints have to be registered within one year of the related treatment being carried out – it’s therefore advised that you make your complaint promptly.

It’s up to you whether you want to complain to your dentist directly or to the practice manager. Your dentist should be able to help you with your complaint, but if you feel that they aren’t taking it as seriously as they should be, you may want to escalate higher within the branch.

The practice’s complaints procedure will differ slightly depending on whether your treatment was carried out by an NHS dentist or a private dentist, however in both situations you can make a complaint directly to the dentist that carried the work out on your teeth.

As always, Dental Law are available to provide advice if needed, particularly if you’re considering making a claim – contact us today to find out more.


Making a Complaint to an NHS Dentist

Your first port of call with an NHS dentist complaint is to go through the practice team directly, whether that’s by complaining to the practice manager or the dentist that completed the work. You should follow the official NHS complaints procedure, and you can raise a grievance in writing, via email or by speaking to someone in person.

All NHS complaints should be made within one year of the treatment that you’re complaining about. If you’re concerned about making a formal complaint to the practice directly, you can also contact NHS England instead.

When complaining to your dentist, they should follow the official NHS complaints procedure, with regulations set out by the NHS themselves. The dental practice should be able to provide you with a copy of this complaints procedure – you can also head to the NHS Choices website for more information.

Other NHS Complaint Options

If you’ve tried making a complaint to the NHS dentist or branch manager and the outcome has not been satisfactory, there are several further steps you can take. As previously stated, you can escalate to NHS England if you haven’t managed to resolve your complaint with the practice itself. The dental complaint still needs to be made within one year of the related treatment occurring.

As well as complaining to NHS England, you can speak to the commissioner of the service in question – the commissioner is the body that pays for the NHS service used for your dental treatment. To find your local commissioner, contact NHS England on their website and they’ll be able to help you find the correct team.

If you’d prefer to go straight down the legal route instead of making an NHS complaint, contact Dental Law and we’ll go through your case to see if we can help you make a claim.


Making a Complaint to a Private Dentist

If your treatment was carried out by a private dentist, the process will be a little different when making a complaint. However, it’s still recommended that you contact the dentist who carried out the treatment or the practice manager first. Instead of following the NHS guidelines, the practice will have its own complaints procedure to follow. The practice manager can provide you with this information upon request.

If you find yourself disappointed with the way your complaint has been handled and want to escalate it further, the next step would be to contact the Dental Complaints Service (DCS).

The DCS offers an independent complaints service. They are funded by the General Dental Council (GDC), who are the regulatory body for UK dentists.

As with NHS complaints, you don’t have to make a complaint to your private dentist in order to make a legal claim.


What Is the Dental Complaints Service (DCS)?

The Dental Complaints Service (DCS) is an advisory team created specifically for private dental patients (they do not handle NHS dentist complaints). The DCS is the escalation phase if you’ve tried making a complaint to your dental practice directly and it’s been left unresolved, or if you don’t want to go through your dentist at all.

The DCS offers a free and impartial service, which is funded by the General Dental Council – the main independent organisation within the UK that regulates the dental industry. They launched in 2006 and have their own criteria and complaints procedure to run through when dealing with a dental complaint – the majority of their cases are resolved within one week.

In 2013, the DCS announced a 12-month time limit for reporting complaints. It’s therefore important that you seek advice or report any suspected dental negligence without delay.

If the time limit has elapsed and you haven’t made a complaint, you may still be able to raise a legal claim with Dental Law.


Contact the General Dental Council (GDC)

The General Dental Council (GDC) may also be able to help you if you have a dental complaint. As previously stated, the GDC is an independent organisation that regulates dentists in the UK. They fund the private Dental Complaints Service.

Part of the GDC’s role is to register qualified dental professionals, checking to make sure they’re competent and qualified to work in a dental practice. They also set dental standards and work to improve dental education, as well as resolving complaints. They follow the guidelines set out in the Dentists Act 1984, which provides a legal framework for dental treatment in the UK.

All dentists and dental professionals based within the UK have to be registered with the GDC to practise. If you suspect your dentist is working illegally, you can also make a complaint and their registration status will be checked. The GDC will take action if a dental professional’s ability or behaviour means that it is not suitable for them to continue working.

The GDC will usually only investigate complaints if there appears to be a safety risk involved or if damage to public confidence in the dentistry profession may result.

The investigation process can take up to 18 months if needed, making it the lengthiest course to pursue action. The GDC only cover certain complaints – a full list can be found here.

If your complaint isn’t covered or you’d rather apply for compensation instead, contact Dental Law and we’ll run you through the process of making a claim.


What Is the Relationship between the GDC and the DCS?

Private patients are not covered by the NHS complaints system so the General Dental Council created the Dental Complaints Service to offer them support.

The DCS comprises former GDC employees. It is also funded by the GDC and held accountable to them. To ensure that the DCS is performing adequately, the GDS will subject them to review where operational improvements may be suggested.


Dentist Complaints: What Other Options Are Available?

Beyond the options listed above, there are several other routes you can take to pursue your dentist complaint, such as the ombudsman and CQC (the Care Quality Commission). It’s important to note again here that you don’t need to speak to the ombudsman or CQC before making a claim, however it may be worth raising potential dental negligence issues with them anyway to try and prevent further issues from happening in the future.

If you need further advice about whether you can make a claim, Dental Law are here to help!


Speak to the Ombudsman

Another step to take is to speak to the ombudsman – there are different ombudsman services available depending on what your complaint is regarding, with dentistry claims coming under the remit of the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO).

The PHSO would normally be contacted after exhausting the other options available, usually if you’ve already contacted NHS England and aren’t happy with their response.

The PHSO only deal with NHS complaints, so if your issue is with private dental treatment, they won’t be able to help. It should also be noted that the ombudsman works independently of the government and the NHS – they make the final decision on complaints, so you would not be able to escalate a complaint any further once the PHSO has been contacted.

To get in touch with the PHSO, you can call them on 0345 015 4033 or fill out the contact form on their website.


Raise Concerns with the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care, covering a wide range of healthcare organisations, including care homes, hospitals and dental practices.

The CQC is not allowed to take complaints forward on behalf of a patient. They can, however, use information given to them to prevent further harm coming to other patients – in this case, they will conduct their own investigation into the matter.

Despite not being able to make a formal complaint to the CQC, you can inform the CQC about poor treatment you’ve received in the hope that this information will help others in the future.

The CQC have laid out several guidelines about making a dental complaint, which can be found here.


Consider Taking Legal Advice

Have you made a complaint and found that your efforts have gotten you nowhere? If that’s the case, you might want to consider taking legal advice and making a compensation claim.

If you’ve lost confidence in your dentist or have suffered a loss of earnings or severe pain and suffering, you may wish to make a dental negligence claim. Making a dental negligence claim with an expert solicitor, such as the Dental Law Partnership, is the only way to get compensation for substandard care.

If you have cause to complain about your dentist, the Dental Law Partnership will review your case and assess whether dental negligence has occurred.

As the leading specialist dental negligence solicitors in the UK, the Dental Law Partnership can provide you with the legal know-how and dental expertise required to bring a claim against your dentist for work completed in England or Wales.


If your claim is successful, any awarded compensation can help you to pay for any procedures you might require to repair dental work or recover from any subsequent infections or illnesses. For more information about what we cover, head to our Dental Injuries page.

You don’t need to already have an open complaint in order to use our services and you can just go straight to making a claim if you’d rather do that, instead of making an official complaint. Alternatively, you can speak to us first if you’re unsure about how to pursue compensation. We’ll assess the validity of your claim and can instruct you about whether dental negligence has occurred and the next steps you should take.

Call 0800 0853 823 to speak to a dental law expert, or start your claim right here on our website today.


File a Dental Injury Claim with the Dental Law Partnership

If you’re looking to make a dental injury claim following a dentist complaint, then the Dental Law Partnership can help. 

We’re a specialist firm of solicitors who provide high-quality legal representation for patients who have suffered dental negligence. Our expert team is made up of both dentists and solicitors, with all of our directors having a clinical background so you can rest assured that you’re getting the best help available. 

There are many different types of dental injury claim that we can help you with, including (but not limited to) jaw fractures, nerve damage and fillings. Our case studies are testament to our success and will show you what compensation you could gain if your case is similar.

If you’d like to find out more about starting a claim for any dental injury or negligence, contact us on 0800 0853 823 to speak to one of our advisors today or fill out our contact form. 


See if you have a case for dental negligence:

Start Your Claim

or call us free on: 0800 0853 823