Dodgy implants left dental patient in three years of pain
A Bedfordshire pensioner who had his two front teeth replaced with implants, only to need one of them surgically removing again and requiring a bone graft and crowns, has been awarded an out-of-court settlement of £8,500.
Retired motor after-sales director, Philip Long (65), from Shefford was forced to turn to specialist dental negligence solicitors, Dental Law Partnership after two failed dental implants fitted by dentist Dr Spyridon Galatas at The Luton Dental Centre, left him with years of problems and having to undergo further surgery, a replacement implant, crowns and bone grafting to build up bone loss in his jaw.
Senior solicitor, Tim Armitage, at the Dental Law Partnership, said: “Dr Spyridon Galatas failed to use reasonable care and skill in the assessment, planning and technical execution of the work he carried out and also failed to gain valid consent for the first two implants.
“If Mr Long had been properly informed of the associated risks of the treatment, he would have chosen a different course of action and been spared a great deal of pain and suffering.”
Mr Long had been attending the Shefford Health Centre since he retired at 60. During a routine check-up in 2010, it was noticed that the pin that secured the crowns on his two front teeth had worked itself too close to the side of the tooth and had infected the gum, meaning the teeth would have to be removed. The dentist recommend replacement with dentures or implants.
Mr Long explained: “Unfortunately my regular dentist did not offer implants and I didn’t want dentures, so I made a few calls to neighbouring practices to get some more details and prices. The only practice that followed-up on my call was Luton Dental Centre who invited me to an open session one afternoon in October for people considering dental implants.
“I saw Dr Spyridon Galatas who confirmed my previous dentist’s diagnosis but never offered me an alternative other than implants, nor did he explain the risks associated with implant treatment. Everything seemed fine, so I decided to go ahead with the treatment subject to Dr Galatas taking X-rays to check if there was sufficient bone in my jaw to support the implants. I paid a deposit and the treatment was scheduled to take place in early November 2010 at a cost of £4.5K.”
On the day of the appointment, Mr Long travelled with his wife to see Dr Galatas who, ten minutes before his treatment was due, gave him paperwork to sign which stated that the success of the treatment was not guaranteed.
Mr Long commented: “I was shocked, this was the first time that anyone had told me this! I was worried and wanted to discuss this with my wife but unfortunately she had gone off shopping. I felt obliged to undergo the treatment as everything had been prepared and I had already paid a deposit. Had I known that there could be complications, I would have seriously reconsidered the treatment.”
The procedure was carried out and Mr Long’s two front teeth were removed and implants fitted. However, during the operation there was another lady present who looked concerned. Mr Long explained: “Throughout the treatment, her face said it all, she was obviously concerned with Dr Galatas’ technique. Following the procedure, she told me that this was a new type of implant and this was the first time it had been fitted in the UK. I was horrified, I thought he’d done hundreds of procedures like this, I certainly didn’t think I was the first.
“That night my face swelled up like a football, but that was just the start of my problems. I spent the next 12 months going back and forward to the dentist with continual problems and things working loose.”
Dr Galatas fitted temporary crowns to Mr Long as he was unable to fit permanent ones due to the continual swelling of his gums. By April 2011, Mr Long’s abutments had worked loose and were cutting into his top jaw, it also meant that his implants were protruding down further than normal.
“A friend said that my implants made me look like Bugs Bunny – I was very self-conscious,” continued Mr Long. “I immediately went back to see Dr Galatas who removed the abutments and decided to take the implant out so that he could build up the bone in my jaw. He was clearly reticent about the treatment he given me in the past and actually said that he wouldn’t carry out the procedure in this way again.”
In August 2011 Dr Galatas replaced the implant and then, seven months later, once the swelling in Mr Long’s gums had subsided, was ready to fit the crowns. However, when he returned in March 2012, Mr Long noticed that all was not well.
“He didn’t seem his usual self,” explained Mr Long. “He appeared disinterested in me and just seemed to want to get me out of there. He showed me the new crowns and I commented that they didn’t look straight but he assured me that this was more normal and sent me on my way – it just didn’t feel right.
“In August 2012, I was at a social function having dinner and one of my crowns came out as I was eating – it was so embarrassing. I went to see Dr Galatas the very next day but was told he had since left the practice. I saw another dentist at the same practice who said that I had ‘big problems’ as my gums were infected and my crowns didn’t fit. I was told that the practice had had lots of issues with Dr Galatas’ work and that I should make a claim against him.”
Mr Long initially contacted the Dental Law Partnership in October 2012 who accepted his case and sent him all the paperwork. However, Mr Long opted to see a local solicitor’s practice instead.
He continued: “I wasted a year with my local solicitors as they finally decided I should seek advice from a specialist dental negligence solicitor. In October 2013, I went back to Dental Law Partnership who were really great and were on my side throughout the whole process – I wished I’d stuck with them from the start.”
In February this year Mr Long was awarded £8,500 in an out-of-court settlement. Dr Galatas did not admit liability for his actions.
Mr Long concluded: “The settlement means I was able to get my implants done properly by a competent dentist. I’ve still got some way to go but I have had a new crown fitted so that I at least look presentable – to be honest, it’s the best my mouth has felt in over four years!”