What is Dental Negligence?
Dental malpractice, or dental negligence, can be defined as avoidable injury caused by a dentist who fails to take the proper care. Any case where a dentist has performed poorly, negligently or inappropriately which results in avoidable harm being caused to a patient can lead to a dental negligence compensation claim.
A dental negligence claim is a claim in one category of clinical negligence. Like with clinical negligence, a dental claim can be made if you have sustained any form of personal injury, which may include psychological suffering or financial loss, as well as physical harm, as a result of a dentist’s negligent work.
The Dental Law Partnership are the best people to advise you on whether your dental negligence compensation claim falls into the category of dental malpractice.
Types of Dental Claim
Dental negligence can take many different forms. Any substandard dental treatment that results in pain, injury or trauma could potentially be considered negligence. If you have experienced any of the below at the hands of a dental professional, you may be eligible to make a dental negligence claim.
If you are wondering “how do I know if I have experienced dental negligence?” then you are not alone. We can advise you if you are unsure.
Are there different types of Dental Negligence?
There are many different types of dental negligence that can inform a dental claim, including but not limited to:
- The extraction of the wrong tooth or teeth
- Misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis, delayed or failed diagnosis
- Dentist carelessness, including failure to remove unplanned foreign objects during treatment
- Failure to provide a treatment plan, preventative or oral hygiene advice
- Inadequate radiology or imaging
Dental malpractice, or dental negligence, may involve harm to the patient, whether through poorly performed procedures, incompetence, or failure to diagnose. This may involve severing a nerve, pulling the wrong tooth or failing to diagnose decay resulting in further problems.
Serious harm to a patient can be a feature of dental malpractice with some patients experiencing life changing injuries. A dentist may cause a serious infection due to unsafe practices, fail to diagnose a case of oral cancer, or improperly use dental tools resulting in permanent injury. These examples could all qualify as dental malpractice.
Your dentist is responsible for informing you of any of the risks involved with your treatment or proposed treatments as well as any side effects and risks to your health. If you are treated and not made fully aware of these risks beforehand and something goes wrong, you could have grounds for a dental compensation claim.
What you need to claim Dental Negligence
Evidence will need to be collected to establish that your dentist was negligent. In addition there are time limits for bringing a claim namely, within three years from the point in time at which you knew you had potentially received negligent dental treatment. Once these three years have passed, you may no longer be able to claim compensation or sue your dentist.
How to prove Dental Negligence
There are several things that you must be able to prove when making a dental negligence claim:
- Breach – This means that you must show how the dentist breached his or her duty by falling below the required standard of care. This standard is measured against other reasonable dentists of average skill. In some cases, other dentists may be brought in to offer expert testimony about an acceptable level of care.
- Causation – This means demonstrating that the dentist’s breach of duty caused you harm. If your harm was not caused directly by the dentist’s breach of duty, then you cannot sue him or her for dental negligence.
- Damages – This means showing that you suffered some form of harm as a result of your dentist’s breach of care. If you didn’t come to any harm, you cannot sue your dentist – even if they were blatantly careless.
Causes of Dental Negligence claims
Below is a selection of types of dentistry and advice on potential negligence claims;
In order to proceed with a dental treatment, your dentist must first gain consent beforehand. On many occasions, procedures are carried out by dentists with very little questions asked.
There is a wide variety of cosmetic dental treatments available, with many becoming increasingly popular. It’s essential that you understand the nature of the treatment and also how long it is likely to last before you agree to it.
A tooth extraction may be required for a number of reasons and if you have certain levels of decay, removal of the tooth could be needed to avoid further damage or complications.
Otherwise known as gingivitis, gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque, resulting in inflammation of the gums. If plaque is not removed, you may experience bleeding gums and bad breath.
On many occasions, Dental Law Partnership deal with claims where tooth decay has not been diagnosed or treated, resulting in the need for a restorative treatment.
A dental implant procedure should be carried out by a specialist dentist and it requires metal posts which are fixed to the jawbone. These are used to support a crown or bridge.
A root canal treatment (RCT) is required if a tooth is severely infected or consists of dead material. A dentist will remove the dead or dying material in order to prevent further issues.
Wisdom teeth affect different people in different ways, yet on some occasions, an impacted wisdom tooth can cause a build-up of bacteria in the area. This will then make oral hygiene and keeping teeth in the area clean a difficult task.
Veneers can greatly improve the appearance a smile and enhance oral cosmetics overall. An alternative to crowns, veneers are bonded to the surface of the existing tooth and can last many years when applied properly.
Crowns and bridges are used in many types of dentistry to improve oral appearance by fixing issues such as missing teeth, or adjusting the shape or alignment of teeth.
Tooth decay is caused by a build-up of plaque and it’s also known as a cavity or caries. It is a common problem amongst children and adults in the UK and it is often something that can go unnoticed by dentists.
During your check-up, it’s important that your dentist is on the lookout for any concerning symptoms that may be a sign of oral cancer.
Contact the Dental Law Partnership
If you feel that you may have been the victim of negligence or have suffered pain, financial loss and embarrassment as a result, you could be eligible to make a claim.
Call our specialist team of solicitors today on Freephone 0800 0853 823 and get things started. Our initial advice is free with no obligation to proceed.
Fill in the form below for a free initial consultation
Can you sue an NHS dentist?
It is understandable to be hesitant to take legal action against the NHS. If you have been the victim of dental negligence, you needn’t feel this way. When making a dental claim you are not suing the NHS, you are suing a dentist individually. They will have professional insurance or indemnity cover for this eventuality. If you wanted to sue your dentist for pulling out the wrong tooth, for tooth nerve damage, bad fillings or more – you should not feel reluctant to claim dental negligence compensation.
You would simply be suing the individual dentist who treated you, regardless of whether your treatment was under the NHS or private dental care.