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Dental Negligence & Medical Negligence: What’s the Difference?

If you think you might have suffered from dental negligence at the hands of your dentist, you may be able to open a dental negligence claim. With a successful claim, you could use your compensation to put your ordeal behind you and move on with your life. 


However, it’s important to distinguish whether you have a valid claim first, before starting the process of suing your dentist. In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about the world of dental malpractice and medical negligence, covering the differences between the two terms in depth.


If you’d like to move straight to making a claim, we’ll be happy to help  – please get in touch with our expert team of dental negligence solicitors on 0800 152 2039.


Dental negligence vs medical negligence: How do they compare?

In essence, the main difference between dental negligence and medical negligence is that dental negligence falls under the broader umbrella of medical negligence. Medical negligence covers the entire medical industry, whereas the term dental negligence specifically refers to negligence within the dental sector.

Another term you might have heard of is clinical negligence, which essentially refers to the same concept as medical negligence. The term was introduced to provide a more comprehensive description for negligence that occurs within the medical industry, as it extends far beyond hospital settings.

A wide range of medical professions can be included within a medical negligence claim, including:

  • Doctors
  • Surgeons
  • Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Dentists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Care workers
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Osteopaths
  • Opticians

If you’d like to open a dental medical negligence claim, you may want to consider using a specialist dental negligence solicitor like the Dental Law Partnership. As we specialise only in dental negligence compensation claims, we can honestly state that we are experts in the field. Many members of our team have also worked within the dental industry in the past, giving us a greater understanding of the industry.

Can a dental injury be classified as medical negligence?

Yes, a dental injury can be classed as medical negligence, depending on the circumstances. You may be eligible for a dental claim if your dentist made a mistake when treating you, made an issue worse instead of fixing it or caused further issues when carrying out a procedure.

Here is a list of potential injuries that you may be able to claim for:

However, these issues are just a few examples of some of the personal injuries that you can claim for. If your circumstances are different from those laid out above, please try not to worry, as we may still be able to help you with your claim.

What other forms of dental negligence can I claim for?

Whilst injury claims are common during dental medical negligence cases, dental claims can also be made for a variety of other factors. In fact, many dental negligence claims involve more than one form of medical negligence by a dentist, which could increase your chances of a successful claim.

As well as personal injury claims, you can also open a dental negligence case for the following things:

  • Failure to treat – Failure to treat dental claims can be very serious, involving situations in which your dentist has failed to treat a health issue correctly, as well as cases where they have provided the wrong treatment. Failing to treat a patient correctly can be particularly harmful in cases involving oral cancer or tooth decay, which could have a serious effect on the patient.
  • Failure to diagnose – Failure to diagnose compensation claims often go hand in hand with failure to treat cases, as incorrectly diagnosing an issue is likely to lead to the wrong dental treatment being carried out. It could be that your dentist has provided an incorrect diagnosis, or perhaps they’ve made a mistake and haven’t diagnosed you with anything at all. Both situations can be included in a dental claim.
  • Failure to obtain patient consent – Dentists have a legal requirement to obtain consent before carrying out a dental treatment. Consent has to be obtained voluntarily, and the patient has to be competent enough to consent to the procedure. Your dentist also has a duty of care to inform you of any risks and side effects that could occur from the treatment, as well as any alternative procedures available.
  • Psychological and emotional harm  – Another factor you can open dental negligence claims for is emotional or psychological harm. Poor dental treatment can lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, low confidence and low self-esteem. If you already have a fear of the dentist, you may find that your phobia is exacerbated, which could make it harder for you to get remedial treatment completed (if required).
  • Financial arrears – If you’ve suffered financially due to dental negligence, you may be able to open a case. It could be that you’ve had to pay another dentist to fix the issues caused by your original dentist, or it might be that you’ve had to pay travel costs to get to another dental surgery. Both these situations could be included as part of the dental negligence claims process.

All these things can be classified under both the medical negligence and dental negligence categories. As previously stated, your dental negligence claim will likely cover a few different aspects of dental negligence, although we understand that every situation is different. 

How do I make a medical negligence claim?

If you think you might have suffered at the hands of a negligent dentist, you may want to open a dental malpractice claim.

In most cases, you have up to three years from the date the negligence occurred in which to claim compensation, but it’s important to think about your decision carefully before committing.

Once you’ve decided you’d like to make a claim against your dentist, your next step is to find a firm of dental negligence solicitors. You may find some legal firms that cover a wide array of medical negligence types, but using a specialist dental firm like the Dental Law Partnership may be preferable.

If you’d like to see how we can help you, all you need to do is get in touch with our helpful team. We’ll assess your situation in full, before informing you of whether we can continue with your case. It’s worth pointing out that we only work on a no-win, no-fee basis, so if your claim is not successful for any reason, there is nothing to worry about.

You can also request a callback from our expert team here.