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Undiagnosed tooth decay in children

  • The importance of ensuring children are correctly examined by dental practitioners.

    By Samantha Swaby

I recently came across an article in the Telegraph, which reported statistics that tooth decay is the most common cause of young people aged between five and nine being admitted into hospital [1]. In some cases dentists had no choice but to extract all 20 baby teeth from their young patients, due to the severity of decay.

It was also discussed that some dentists were reluctant to carry out fillings on children, as they were unsure of their effectiveness.

Tooth decay

Tooth decay is as a result of bacteria that enters a person’s mouth and makes acid, which leads to a hole in the tooth, known as a cavity. The Telegraph article, and other articles that considered the matter, suggested that severe tooth decay in children actually amounted to a case of child neglect.

Whilst parents have a responsibility to ensure that they monitor their children’s eating habits to try and control tooth decay, there are also occasions when there are cases of undiagnosed tooth decay in children where the child’s dentist has failed to detect the decay.

Preventing tooth decay

In order to prevent tooth decay, parents should ensure that their children brush their teeth regularly and have a healthy diet, It is also important that parents take their children to the dentist when their first teeth come through, rather than waiting until the child starts to experience pain and problems with these teeth.

When a child is taken to the dentist, the dentist should do some of the following:

– Examine the teeth, gums and mouth.
– Ask about any problems the child has had with your mouth, teeth or gums since their last visit.
– Give advice on oral health

Problems as a result of tooth decay

If tooth decay is undiagnosed in children or adults, then this can lead to the following problems:

– Toothache.
– Swelling in the gums near a painful tooth.
– Abscesses.
– Bad breath.
– Extraction of teeth.

The extraction of teeth can be a daunting experience and for a child to require a number of teeth extracted this can cause anxiety, pain and suffering and in some cases a fear of attending the dentist in later life.

Our Experience

As Dental Negligence Solicitors, we see a number of cases where a dentist has failed to diagnose decay when a patient has been a regular attender. As a result of the missed decay, this has led to patients losing teeth, which could have been prevented if the decay had been identified and diagnosed earlier. This can often lead to patients having unsightly gaps in their mouths and the requirement for expensive remedial treatment to replace the teeth they have lost.

If you are concerned that you may have suffered from undiagnosed tooth decay and this has led you to suffer loss and damage, please contact the Dental Negligence Team who will be happy to assist you and advise on whether you can pursue a dental negligence claim for compensation.

[1] Statistics reported obtained from the Health and Social Care Information Centre


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