Pensioner from Lancashire suffered pain for 10 years following botched restorative dental work by local dentist
James Clay, a 70-year-old retired engineer from Darwen, Lancashire, has won £18,000 in compensation from his local dentist with the help of specialist dental negligence solicitors, the Dental Law Partnership after he suffered over 10 years of pain due to poor restorative dental work.
Between 2003 and 2013 Mr Clay endured the painful fitting and re-fitting of bridges, unnecessary extraction of teeth, prolonged gum disease and bone loss. He is also likely to require further treatment in the future due to ongoing issues caused by the poorly planned and executed dental work.
In 2003, Mr Clay had been struggling to eat his food with his dentures so made an appointment to see Dr Roger Hughlock of Lowerbank Dental Practice in Leyland, Lancashire. Dr Hughlock told Mr Clay that he needed significant an expensive restorative dental work, including implants and bridges being fitted on his upper and lower jaw which would mean the extraction of two teeth. Mr Clay had done his homework in his choice of dentist and assumed the treatment plan would be thorough. So believing he was in good hands proceeded with the treatment.
“I had done my research and he was supposed to have a good reputation,” Mr Clay said. “I hadn’t been enjoying my food and drink because of my dentures, and I knew work needed to be undertaken to resolve the issue. At my initial examination with Dr Hughlock he told me I had excellent gums and that the work would be straightforward.”
Dr Hughlock subsequently fitted bridges in Mr Clay’s lower jaw and then bridges secured by implants on his upper jaw. However, it soon became apparent there was a problem. The first sign came when Mr Clay’s lower bridge had to be re-cemented within 18 months. He also developed an infection surrounding one of the implants in his upper jaw causing painful inflammation in his gum.
“The last decade of my life has been one of dental pain,” Mr Clay said. “It has affected my family and my wife has had to watch me suffer which has upset her a great deal. All I wanted when I retired was a peaceful life and a chance to spend time with my family. I haven’t been able to enjoy some very special occasions – I wasn’t able to go to my grandson’s christening because I was in so much pain.”
Between 2008 and 2013 Mr Clay returned to Dr Hughlock to have the bridges re-cemented in his lower jaw five times. The worst occasion was in 2009 when Mr Clay’s lower bridge failed completely when he was on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise to celebrate his wedding anniversary.
“One week into the holiday my teeth just fell out and there was no way of getting them fixed,” Mr Clay recalls. “I had to walk around with my mouth closed. I couldn’t eat properly. It was supposed to be a very special trip for me and my wife but it was ruined. It’s so frustrating because I can’t get that time back.”
The refitting of Mr Clay’s bridge led to the extraction of six more teeth with an additional three implants to secure it. This would not have been necessary if the initial work had been of a good standard.
By 2013, two more of the implants in Mr Clay’s upper jaw had failed and two more appeared to be failing. The upper bridge fitting had become very loose and he was worried it would fall out, but he had lost confidence in Dr Hughlock’s ability to fix the problem.
Mr Clay sought a second opinion from a different dentist who was shocked by what he saw. He told Mr Clay the bridges and implants should never have been fitted in the first place because he was suffering with gum disease. Mr Clay was also told he had suffered bone loss as a result of untreated gum disease and would likely need future extractions of implants, additional bone grafting, and implants.
X-rays have since shown the implants were placed too close together by Dr Hughlock, and the others were already showing signs of failure when the bridge had originally been cemented into place. It is also now clear that when the bridges and implants were fitted, Mr Clay had been suffering from gum disease and the work should not have gone ahead until this was resolved.
Consequently, over the last 10 years, Mr Clay has suffered from excruciating pain and infections in a number of his teeth, as well as painful mouth ulcers brought on by the bad dental work.
“I was so angry, Mr Clay said. “My new dentist informed me the work Dr Hughlock had undertaken should have lasted around 15 years, but because it was not up to scratch the bridges would likely fail again. I was also told I would probably need to have lots of additional treatment in the future. Although I am not looking forward to future work, it is comforting to have received compensation with the help of the Dental Law Partnership because I at least have the security of knowing I will be able to afford it.”
Jonathan Owen, Associate Solicitor at the Dental Law Partnership, said: “Over a 10-year period our client was provided with a catalogue of poorly planned and poorly executed restorative treatment. A great deal of treatment was entirely avoidable or failed soon after placement. As a result, Mr Clay has spent many years suffering unnecessarily. We hope the compensation he has received goes some way towards paying for past and future treatment.”
The Dental Law Partnership took on Mr Clay’s case in December 2014 and the case was settled in June 2016 when Dr Hughlock paid £18,000 compensation in an out of court settlement. Dr Hughlock did not admit liability.
If you have received poor restorative work from your dentist and feel like you need to talk to a legal professional, call the Dental Law Partnership on 0808 231 8838.