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Implants are often the treatment of choice to replace the loss of a tooth, but they are an expensive option, sometimes costing more than £2,500 (plus future maintenance costs).
An implant is an artificial titanium root placed into the bone, around which crown or bridgework can then be constructed. Sometimes there are insufficient bone levels to place an implant, so bone augmentation is required before an implant can be placed.
If you have had a failed implant procedure, it could have been caused by negligence if you have experienced any of the following issues. Find out more by clicking on the problem you have experienced.
A dentist placed an implant without treating periodontal disease. Is this negligent treatment?
It is very important that your dentist treats any periodontal (gum) disease prior to placing an implant. If a dentist fails to do so, this can cause peri-implantitis. This is an infectious disease that causes inflammation of the surrounding gum and bone of the implant, which can lead to loss of the surrounding bone and the eventual loss of the implant.
If you suffer from periodontal disease, even if this is now under control, your dentist should ensure that there is sufficient bone to hold your implant in place. If not, you may notice your implant does not feel secure, and may even fall out. Your dentist should check this by taking a Cone-Beam CT scan, which is very important in assessing the potential longevity of an implant.
If you have suffered consequences resulting from either of the above situations, you should contact us to discuss this further.
Nerve damage has occurred after an implant was placed. Is this negligent?
Not necessarily, as nerve damage is a recognised risk of having implants fitted. This means that it will not constitute dental negligence if your dentist has fully informed you of this risk, i.e. obtained your “informed consent”.
Informed consent is a principle by which a dentist must describe all available treatment options (including the cost of each treatment option), and explain the risks and benefits associated with each of them.
If a dentist fails to advise their patient of a particular risk and discuss it, a patient may have a claim for dental negligence if that risk becomes a reality.
To give an example, let’s say a patient wants to have an implant and implant retained crown placed, so attends their dentist. Prior to placing the implant, the dentist fails to advise the patient that they may suffer nerve damage as a result of the treatment. After the implant has been fitted, the patient finds that they have been left with nerve damage. The patient may have a claim for dental negligence in this circumstance, if they can prove that they would not have gone ahead with the procedure had they been aware of this risk.
A second opinion from another dentist suggested that implants were never a suitable option. Is this negligent dentistry?
For a variety of reasons, some patients are simply unsuitable for implant treatment, and in this circumstance dentists should not attempt to place them.
If you have been advised that your implant should have never been placed, please contact us to discuss this further.
Can an implant fail for any other reason?
Dental implants are a complicated area of dentistry and therefore not without their problems. In addition to the above, an implant may fail if it was not fitted correctly.
We often see cases in which an implant was placed too close to the neighbouring tooth, meaning it required removal and replacement with a new implant. This can be particularly frustrating considering implants are generally not available on the NHS, which means that patients can be left with significant dentistry bills through no fault of their own.
If you have been advised that your implant was placed incorrectly, you should contact us to discuss this further.
There are many reasons why an implant may fail, some negligent. However, there are also several non-negligent reasons why you may experience problems with your implant.
Two of the most common reasons for implant failure are poor oral hygiene levels and smoking. Assuming that your dentist provides relevant and detailed oral hygiene and smoking cessation advice, you will not have a claim for dental negligence in this circumstance.
As a general rule, cases concerning substandard implants should conclude between 18-24 months after the first time you contact us. However, each case is different and this may vary dependent on the facts.
Any compensation received will depend on the injury you sustained. For example, if you require replacement implants you will receive more compensation than if you suffer a period of pain as a result of negligence.
Compensation received following a successful claim for dental negligence will be comprised of:
Sophie Angwin recovered £7,000 for a Claimant who received substandard implant treatment at her upper left central incisor (UL1). The Defendant failed to take x-rays prior to implant treatment to assess the Claimant’s bone levels and to assess the health of the Claimant’s gums. The Defendant therefore failed to properly assess whether the Claimant was a suitable candidate for a dental implant.
As a result of the failure to do this, the dental implant failed within a few months (whereas a dental implant should last in excess of 30 years). When the implant fell out the Claimant was left without a front tooth. She had to undergo a further dental procedure to fit another implant.
Katie Parr acted for a woman who received £20,000 for the repeated infections she suffered following a bone graft.
The Claimant required a bone graft prior to implant placement as her natural bone levels were low. However, the Claimant was not a suitable candidate for the procedure as she had a longstanding history of sinus problems. In addition, the bone graft was negligently performed. The Claimant underwent three procedure in an attempt to eliminate the infection, and was unable to have an implant placed as the bone graft failed.
Sophie Angwin recovered £5,000 for a Claimant who underwent a substandard implant placement procedure.
The Claimant had attended with the Defendant dentist for the implant procedure in August 2015. The implant was fitted, but was drilled too deeply in the Claimant’s jaw as the setting on the drill had not been changed to one that was suitable for placing implants.
The Defendant attempted to remove the implant by cutting around the surrounding gum. This was unsuccessful, so the Claimant was then referred to his local dental hospital where a procedure was undertaken to reposition the implant.
You can sue a retired dentist, as long as your claim is not statute barred.
By law, all dentists must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC), and must have appropriate indemnity and insurance arrangements in place; this allows patients to seek any compensation they may be entitled to.
Therefore, even after a dentist retires they will still be responsible for the treatment which was carried out when they were practising as a dentist.
You have three years to bring a claim of dental negligence, from the date of negligence or knowledge of it, under the laws concerning ‘limitation’ in England and Wales. These laws state that a Claimant must issue court proceedings within this time period, or else their claim would be statute barred.
Generally, we would advise you to contact us at least 6 months before the limitation period in your case is due to end. However, this can be reviewed on a case by case basis; if you believe that your limitation period may expire soon, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.
Our specialist team of dental negligence solicitors have been winning cases for clients for over a decade.