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The management of tooth pain

  • A blog setting out the importance of the management of tooth pain in addition to treating the underlying problem.

    By Ben Lees

I was saddened to read a number of articles online recently concerning pain relief for the management of tooth pain.

The first article detailed that a teenager was suffering from severe discomfort caused by her wisdom tooth and explained that, although her dentist had prescribed her three types of antibiotics, they could not prescribe her pain killing medication.

The patient’s experience

The young girl managed to obtain Ibuprofen at the chemist; however, no reason was given as to why her dental practitioner considered they were not allowed to prescribe pain medication. Dentists are permitted to prescribe medication for the management of tooth pain and I wanted to find out if others had encountered the same scenario.

I found numerous reports, blogs and discussion boards of people who had not been advised about the management of tooth pain when they were suffering from a dental abscess or the aftermath of a procedure, such as a complex extraction. I even stumbled upon an article where a woman had resorted to cannabis with the intention that it may relieve pain after a dental procedure.

Additionally, there are ‘jurisdictional’ reasons and miscommunications preventing some patients from receiving the correct treatment. For instance, patients have been told by their GP that their complaint is a dental matter so they must see a dentist. Upon attending an examination with a Dental Practitioner, they are told only a GP or hospital can prescribe the required medication and then sent back to their dentist when they attend their GP appointment.

I understand that it is incredibly frustrating for patients to be pushed from pillar to post feeling that they aren’t being treated and only being monitored or told to come back if something gets worse.

Tragedy caused by chronic pain

During my research; I came across a recent news article about Janette Warburton. Janette, 58 years of age and a doctor’s receptionist, had suffered from prolonged pain in her mouth which had then radiated to her temples in January of this year. After continually suffering from excruciating tooth pain, Janette was referred to Maxillofacial specialists, psychiatrists and kept in at hospital.

Janette wasn’t sleeping and was unable to eat properly. Tragically, Janette committed suicide after approximately 16 months of suffering even though a number of prescription anti-inflammatories, pain killers and anti-depressants were tried out over this period.

Her husband has spoken out about her treatment and he considers that not enough was done to help his wife. Mr Warburton considers that his wife’s treatment seemed to consist of merely monitoring her until she could be discharged. Upon leaving the hospital, she was to attend a dental appointment on 29th March 2014 as the suspected cause of her pain was a cracked filling.

The management of tooth pain is important

Whatever the cause of pain, the management of tooth pain is vital when a patient is suffering from severe discomfort. It can impact on their ability to eat, sleep, communicate and work.

As a Dental Negligence lawyer, I understand the impact of severe tooth pain and it should not be under-estimated.

If you feel that you have suffered with severe pain after dental treatment for a prolonged period over and above the recovery time or that your dentition has been causing you prolonged pain and your dentist has not provided treatment for a suspected abscess or infection, then I would urge you to seek a second opinion from a General Dental Practitioner or specialist.

If you require legal advice on the treatment you have received and you wish to make a dental negligence claim, particularly to pay for any expensive future remedial treatment you need, please contact our Dental Negligence Team.

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