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Dental nerve injury compensation

Nerve injury can occur due to negligent dental treatment when the trigeminal nerve is disturbed.

The trigeminal nerve is the main nerve responsible for sensation in the face and motor functions such as biting and chewing.

There are three branches of the trigeminal nerve: the ophthalmic, maxillary, and mandibular. Given the proximity of the maxillary and mandibular nerve branches to the jaw and mouth, nerve injury can occur following dental treatment. Damage can also occur to the lingual nerve, the branch of the mandibular nerve that provides sensation to the tongue.

You may not be immediately aware that you have sustained an injury to a nerve and this can sometimes take a while to diagnose.

There are common symptoms that can occur following a nerve injury though, such as:

  • anesthesia (complete numbness)
  • paraesthesia (tingling)
  • dysesthesia (pain and burning)

These symptoms can be fairly worrying and intrusive and can affect your ability to eat and even speak. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms then you may have sustained a nerve injury and should seek medical advice.

How do you know a nerve injury occurred because of dental treatment and when is it a result of negligence?

Nerve injury can occur because of normal dental treatment, so may not always arise due to negligent care. Nerve damage can be classified as a recognised complication. Examples of how nerve damage can arise are as follows:

Tooth extraction: nerve injuries can commonly occur after the extraction of a wisdom tooth. Although this is often seen as a recognised complication it is still important that you have been informed of the risk that nerve damage can occur as a result of the extraction.

Additionally, it is also important that your dentist has considered the proximity of the tooth to the surrounding nerves. This assessment would require a radiograph and will help the dentist explain the risks of the extraction to you. Sometimes nerve injuries can occur in other tooth extractions and once again can be negligent when the dentist has not considered the position of the surrounding nerves.

Implant treatment: nerve injuries following a dental implant can be caused in two ways. Either when a dentist mistakenly drills too far through the jaw canal, or when the implant itself is too long and asserts pressure onto the nerve.

Root canal treatment: Endodontic treatment is a dental procedure used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. This procedure is invasive and involves the  dental practitioner removing  the nerve and pulp from the tooth and thereafter cleaning and sealing the tooth.

Many complications can occur during this procedure and some complications (at their worst) can result in nerve damage. For example, sometimes the irrigant used to clean the canal (sodium hypochlorite) is negligently injected into the surrounding tissues of the mouth. This results in nerve damage or damage to the surrounding jaw by the mechanism of opening the root canal and negligently damaging the surrounding nerves.

What is the long-term prognosis for a nerve injury?

The symptoms of nerve injury can persist temporarily and resolve themselves over time. Unfortunately, in some cases a nerve injury may be permanent. It can sometimes be hard to get any detailed advice through your NHS dentist on how your nerve injury is likely to recover.

If you have grounds for a dental negligence claim, part of the investigation will most likely involve an examination with a specialist practitioner that will be able to give you a firm view on exactly what nerve you have damaged and whether your nerve injury is likely to be permanent. In some serious cases, you may need ongoing treatment to deal with your symptoms which will affect how your compensation award is calculated.


FAQs

HOW LONG WILL A CLAIM TAKE?

As a general rule, cases 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.

HOW MUCH COMPENSATION MIGHT YOU RECEIVE?

Any compensation you receive will vary depending on what injury you sustain.

Compensation received following a successful claim for dental negligence will be comprised of:

  • an award for pain and suffering – this will compensate you for any pain you have endured, and also things like inconvenience, social effects (such as embarrassment) and any changes in your eating or sleeping habits
  • an award for future treatment costs – for example, if you require an implant and an implant retained crown, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as a result of a psychiatric injury sustained due to negligence. We will also take into account the future maintenance costs for any treatment you may require, including future specialist appointments.
  • past loss – this may include past prescription costs, travel or dental treatment. For instance, if you had to repeatedly to travel to a specialist appointment as a result of dental negligence, the cost of this will likely be recoverable.

WHAT IF THE DENTIST HAS RETIRED?

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.

HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE A CLAIM?

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.

Talk to us in confidence on

0800 923 2079 or request a call back

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