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A blog by Stephanie Cockburn discussing a recently settled orthodontic claim where damages of £17,000.00 were awarded.

I recently acted for a client in relation to her orthodontic treatment with ceramic braces.

Our client initially asked her dentist if it was possible to change the appearance of her front veneers because she was unhappy that they were too long and too big generally: she wanted to see if they could be adjusted and made narrower and shorter to fit in more with her natural dentition.

Her dentist suggested that it was possible but in reducing the size of the veneers, space would be created between the teeth. Therefore, an orthodontist should be consulted to reduce such spacing before the veneers were provided.

Our client was referred to the Defendant orthodontist and a tick box questionnaire was completed. However, no clinical notes were made and the Defendant failed to acknowledge that our client’s main treatment aim was to replace her upper incisor veneers with shorter and narrower ones.

Furthermore, there were numerous failings involved in our client’s treatment planning and the consent process at the outset of her orthodontic treatment:

An OPG radiograph was obtained by our client’s dentist in her usual dental practice, which was disclosed to the Defendant, but no report was made on this, namely there was no reference to decay which should have been spotted in some upper molars.

A lateral cephalometric radiograph was not acquired, yet a skeletal discrepancy in the position of our client’s facial bones was recorded in the tick chart.

There were no study models taken for our client and no facial photographs were recorded.

Our client’s treatment plan merely suggested the use of ceramic brackets but:

  • There were no detailed diagnostic findings
  • Our client’s wishes for her desired outcome were not included
  • There was no mention of the Defendant’s intention to remove the Claimant’s upper 6th teeth as part of the treatment
  • There was no mention of ‘no treatment’ as being a treatment option
  • There was lack of the detail in the retention programme and associated costs if this extended beyond either 1 or 2 years. As far as the retention programme is concerned, the information given by the Defendant to our client was conflicted. Therefore, there was no clear metric given to our client in relation to the total length of her orthodontic treatment and when she could expect her braces to be removed.
  • There was a failure to obtain our client’s informed consent prior to the ceramic braces being fitted.

Our client suffered substantially as a result of these failings on behalf of the Defendant Orthodontist. In particular, she suffered from the following injuries:

  • Our client unnecessarily lost two of her upper 6th teeth.
  • The unnecessary loss of these upper 6th teeth created a misaligned bite and this has developed into painful clicking of her jaw.
  • Our client’s orthodontic treatment was prolonged unnecessarily for 48 months causing her pain, stress and an inevitable failed outcome with no substantial change to the appearance of her teeth.
  • Our client now faces the prospect of significant restorative and orthodontic treatment to correct the problems caused before she can finally have her initial request of new veneers fitted.

I represented our client and entered into negotiations to settle her claim with the Defendant before there was any need to progress her case through the formal litigation process.

It is very common for failings in orthodontic treatment to commence at the outset during the planning and consenting stage of a claim. However, unfortunately in our experience, failings do not stop at just the initial stages of orthodontic treatment and some of our clients have suffered from poor treatment throughout the duration of their braces, which can extend beyond into the retention phase and fitting of a retainer.

What types of failures are common in orthodontic type claims:

  • A failure to recognise gum problems or presence of decay prior to braces being fitted, and a failure to advise and treat a patient accordingly to ensure that their teeth and oral hygiene are of a good standard before orthodontic treatment starts.


  • A failure to obtain the patient’s informed consent and explain the types of braces that can be offered including metal, ceramic, lingual or Invisalign.


  • A failure to properly assess the patient using study models, x-rays, scans and analysis of their facial and skeletal patterns.


  • A failure to reasonably treatment plan with the patient and find out their desired outcome prior to starting orthodontic treatment.

If you are concerned that you have experienced negligent orthodontic treatment, please speak with our specialist team today to find out if you are eligible for compensation.

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