Dental Negligence Case Studies
Case study 1 Detached reamer
In this claim the client was elderly and of nervous disposition. She visited her dentist to undergo a root canal treatment on her lower left wisdom tooth. During the course of that treatment a reamer being used by the defendant became detached and fell onto the back of her tongue. Unfortunately the client involuntarily swallowed it. The client was taken to hospital and an x-ray was undertaken confirming that the instrument/implement had lodged in her intestine. Surgical intervention was not attempted and a month later x-ray examination confirmed that the reamer had been passed. The client suffered shock and anxiety as a result of this incident. The client received £2,000 in full and final settlement of her claim.
Case study 2 Fractured dental instrument
A piece of fractured dental instrument was left in a patient’s tooth which subsequently required extraction due to infection. Damages were awarded in the sum of £1,000.
Case study 3 Failure to recognise decay
The client consulted her dentist for treatment for tooth pain. The dentist failed to recognise decay in a tooth which demanded prompt treatment. The failure to treat led to pain and extraction of the tooth, which needed replacing with an implant retained crown. The defendant dentist also unnecessarily extracted a wisdom tooth and removed and replaced a filling. The client received £3,000 for damages for pain and suffering, which included an element of future inconvenience as the crown would have to be replaced every 7 years.
Case study 4 Failure to exercise due care and skill
The client consulted a dentist to replace a removable double denture to the lower left jaw and of one crowned tooth. The client underwent extensive treatment involving the placing of fixed bridges in the lower left and lower right jaw. Four teeth were crowned and one of those crowns had to be replaced 5 times. The client had several operations on her teeth, which permanently affected her inability to eat hard foods or to drink hot or cold liquids. The client received £10,000 in damages for pain and suffering and £7,090 for future treatment.
Case study 5 Negligently fitted bridge
The client underwent some dental work. Five crowns which were intended to carry a bridge were negligently fitted. They fell out leaving the sides of some teeth exposed. The client received £3,250 for damages for pain and suffering and £3,462 for damages for the cost of restorative treatment.
Case study 6 Inadequate fitting of bridge
The client received £15,000 in respect of the dentist’s failings in the bridge provision. The client returned to the dentist complaining of pain on biting and the temporary bridge was eased. The client then returned again and the temporary bridge was then removed and the client was advised of the need for root canal treatment. The client suffered pain and suffering as a result of repeat infections and could have avoided root canal treatment. The client would need to undergo future implants.
Case study 7 Wrongful extraction
Wrongful extraction of baby teeth. Damages were awarded of £1,850.
Case study 8 Poor canal root treatment
The client received £2,500 in respect of poor root canal treatment and failure to diagnose and treat an infection of another tooth.
Case study 9 Failure to warn of nerve paraesthesia
Failure to warn of nerve paraesthesia on surgical extraction of lower wisdom tooth. The dentist failed to give adequate warnings of the risks associated with extraction of wisdom teeth. The client had slurred speech and also had numbness on her tongue. The client brought an action against the defendant alleging that he failed to advise her of the proximity of the inferior dental nerve and the dentist failed to obtain the client’s consent to extract the tooth or adequately advise her of the risks of paraesthesia. Damages were awarded of £12,000.
Case study 10 Substandard placement of titanium dental implants
The client received £4,000 for substandard placement of her titanium dental implant. The defendant dentist purported to be an expert in dental implants and extracted the claimant’s teeth to place the titanium dental implant. The dentist poorly positioned the implant. The client suffered pain and social embarrassment due to the poor placement of the implant. Damages were awarded of £4,000.
Case study 11 Failure to diagnose and treat periodontal disease
The client attended the dental practice from 1993 to 2007. During this period, the client had veneers fitted, underwent deep scale polishing, a replacement veneer was fitted, had a crown fitted and various root canal treatments. In 2007, the client attended an alternative dental practice complaining of immense pain. It was noted that the client was suffering from advanced adult periodontitis and had several mobile teeth. By 2007 the prognosis for various teeth was extremely poor and was advised that those teeth may require extraction.
It was alleged that the dentist failed to diagnose the client’s periodontal disease and failed to appropriately interpret the radiographic evidence. The dentist failed to investigate the client’s deteriorating periodontal condition and failed to advise her of the disease and the treatment required. The dentist also failed to monitor the client’s disease and failed to refer her to a periodontal specialist. The client received £7,500 damages in respect of the dentist’s failure to diagnose and treat the client’s periodontal disease.
Case study 12 Failure to diagnose and treat periodontal disease
The client was a 61 year old woman who received £25,000 in respect of the dentist’s failure to diagnose, monitor and treat periodontal disease, resulting in the loss of several teeth and likely future loss of further teeth.
The client attended her dentist in 1987 and had root canal treatment and crowns fitted and prolonged gum treatment in 1988. She further had prolonged gum treatment again in 1989. The client regularly attended between 1990-2006.
During this period, regular radiographs were taken. Radiographs were taken in September 2005 which confirmed significant bone loss due to advanced periodontal disease.
The client brought her case, arguing that the dentist failed to use reasonable care and skill in the provision of root canal treatment and in the provision of periodontal treatment from 1987-2005. The client also argued that the dentist failed to use reasonable care and skill and monitoring of the progression of the periodontal condition and failed to use reasonable care and skill in recording periodontal indices.