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Cosmetic dentistry – when might negligence have caused your injury?

Whilst many dental practitioners in the UK provide outstanding treatment, there are instances where patients are left spending sums trying to remedy injuries, or poor results, caused by these practitioners.

Here, we go through some types of cosmetic dentistry treatment and examples of when a patient may suffer negligent treatment.

Implants

You may have had an implant placed due to the loss of one or more of your teeth. Whatever the case, if it has failed you will want to know whether the treatment you have received was negligent.

Negligence may have occurred if:

1. The practitioner did not have the necessary training to carry out the procedure. It is important that, before undertaking implant treatment, a dentist has developed competence in procedures involved in the clinical assessment, treatment planning and the placement and restoration of implants. This can be developed through training. Before treatment, you should ask your dentist whether or not he/she has undertaken the necessary training to place implants.

2. The implant fails and you require further treatment including removal and replacement. This may be because x-rays and impressions of your mouth may not have been properly taken during the pre-operative assessment stage or if there was a failure to advise you to have minor grafting to help hold the implant in place.

3. Lack of informed consent. The treatment options must be fully communicated with you to ensure you understand any contraindications and/or material risks in the recommended treatment plan. You must be told the advantages and disadvantages of implant treatment and give consent at every stage of implant placement and restoration. There is a risk that implants may not fuse properly with the bone in your mouth and this risk is higher in those who smoke, so you should be advised to quit before treatment. You should be advised if the risk of failure is higher than normal in your case which will enable you to make an informed decision concerning your treatment.

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Veneers

Veneers are supposed to ensure that you have a bright and consistent smile, often covering stains or chips to your teeth. So, if they go wrong, it can be a real blow to your self-esteem.

Negligence may have occurred if:

1. The veneers are poorly fitted and you require further treatment to fix it. A ‘Trial Smile’ should be advised where possible as this allows you to “try out” your new smile before you have the final veneers fitted. Essentially it is a temporary smile fitted over your teeth for a few days which allows you to inform your dental practitioner whether or not you are happy with the proposed treatment and whether any adjustments need to be made before the final veneers are fitted.

2. Over preparing your teeth for veneers which results in veneer fracture, and/or veneers being broken beyond repair. If your teeth are over-prepared for veneers this can make the bonds weaker and unsuitable for treatment. As a result, you may have to get your dentist to repeatedly bond the veneer back on when it falls off but within another few months, it falls off again. Another example is when too much tooth substance is removed so that dentine is exposed or removed. If you have increased sensitivity in the area and the gums feel tender to touch then you should get this checked out by your dentist and/or a second opinion to identify whether too much tooth tissue was removed.

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Crowns

Crowns are an ideal way to repair teeth that have chipped, broken or have been weakened by tooth decay or a very large filling.

You may have experienced negligence if:

1. Poorly fitting crowns causing decay and infection of the underlying tooth.

2. Failure to treat decay before placing a crown. Your dentist should take a radiograph before you are advised to have a crown. If decay is present, it is important that you are made aware and that you get this treated before a crown is placed, as it could cause infection and affect the prognosis of your tooth.

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Teeth whitening

Teeth whitening can’t make your teeth brilliant white, but it can lighten the existing colour by several shades. If you have sought treatment from a trained professional, as only trained professional dentists and hygienists are permitted to use products with higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, it can be upsetting when injury has occurred as a result.

Tooth whitening, if performed negligently, can result in:

1. Burning and blistering of the gums and lips

2. Permanent tooth and gum damage

3. Ingestion of hydrogen peroxide, which is a toxic chemical and can be extremely dangerous. You may have found yourself being severely ill if you have swallowed some, and so a dental practitioner should take steps to prevent this which includes placing a properly fitting mouth-guard.

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Making a claim for dental negligence

If you have read the above and think you have a claim for dental negligence, you can find out more about the process of making a claim right here.

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