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The extraction of wisdom teeth is one of the most common procedures carried out in the UK. Extraction may be required if a wisdom tooth is decayed, if there is not enough space in a person’s mouth to accommodate the tooth, if a wisdom tooth erupts in the wrong direction, or if a wisdom tooth becomes impacted.
Although wisdom teeth extractions are common procedures, they are not without significant risk. Unfortunately, nerve damage following the extraction of a wisdom tooth is not uncommon. It is therefore essential, before undertaking the surgery, for a dentist to take x-rays. These will show the position of the roots of the wisdom teeth in relation to the inferior dental nerve.
Sometimes damage can also occur to the lingual nerve, which affects the tongue, so it is important that these x-rays are always taken.
Sophie Angwin recovered £6,000 for a Claimant for the failure to diagnose decay at his LL7 and his LL8 (wisdom tooth).
The Claimant had been a member of the same practice since 2007 and had attended regularly during that time. In November 2007, fillings were placed at his lower right second and third molars (LR7 and LR8) by the Defendant dentist.
In January 2015, the Claimant attended with the Defendant complaining that he had been in pain over the Christmas period. It was noted that there was deep decay at both teeth, which had not been previously treatment and had worsened as a result. Both teeth subsequently required extraction.
Ben Lees acted for H in a claim against her dentist for extracting her wisdom tooth and causing an ora-antral fistula without obtaining informed consent.
H attended her dentist in February 2012, complaining of symptoms of pain and discomfort from the upper right side of her mouth. H was advised that her upper right wisdom tooth (UR8) needed to be extracted, but she was not warned of the risks of the procedure beforehand. The dentist failed to guard against an ora-antral fistula and did not take a pre-operative radiograph.
H later suffered with symptoms of water leaking from her nose, a decayed/metallic taste in her mouth and the feeling of constantly blocked sinuses. H returned to the practice and she was advised that the extraction has caused an ora-antral fistula (which is a cavity between her mouth and sinus). Despite numerous return visits to the practice, H was prescribed antibiotics but not referred to an Oral Maxillofacial Department to receive treatment to seal the cavity. H was eventually advised after 12 months that the cavity had resolved. However, whenever she suffered with a cold, the symptoms returned.
H received an out of Court settlement of £7,500 to reflect her pain and suffering.
Samantha Swaby recovered £10,000 for the substandard extraction of a Claimant’s lower left third molar (LL8).
The Claimant’s LL8 was decayed and she was referred to her local hospital for an extraction. Following the extraction, the Claimant experienced severe swelling and reduced jaw opening. She returned to hospital, and was advised that there were foreign bodies present in the extraction site. She required a further operation under general anaesthetic to explore the wound and drain an abscess. As a result, the Claimant was left with an indented scar on her neck which she was very self-conscious of.
If you have had a wisdom tooth extracted negligently, you may have experienced some of the following issues. Find out more by clicking on the problem you have experienced.
You suffered nerve damage after a wisdom tooth was removed. Is this negligent?
Nerve damage is a recognised complication following the extraction of a wisdom tooth, so generally nerve damage does not indicate substandard treatment.
However, sometimes nerve damage can be attributed to negligent dental treatment. For example, when:
What is informed consent and why is it important?
Prior to the extraction of a wisdom tooth, 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 needs their wisdom tooth extracted, so they attend their dentist. Prior to extracting the tooth, the dentist fails to advise the patient that they may suffer nerve damage as a result of the treatment. After the extraction, 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.
You suffered an infection after the wisdom tooth was removed. Is this negligent?
An infection following a wisdom tooth extraction is a ‘recognised risk’, and therefore does not generally indicate substandard care.
It is not necessarily negligent for a dentist to not prescribe antibiotics after an extraction. However, a patient may have a dental negligence claim if:
The dentist failed to recognise that wisdom teeth were impacted. Is this negligent?
If you have been returning to your dentist complaining of pain from your back teeth, and were later advised that your wisdom teeth are impacted (stuck in the gum and unable to come through), yes you may have a successful dental negligence claim. Please contact us if you have found yourself in this circumstance.
You suffered a fractured mandible following a wisdom tooth extraction. Is this negligent?
A fractured mandible (jaw) is an unfortunate, yet recognised, risk associated with wisdom tooth extractions.
However, a patient who has suffered a fractured mandible may have a dental negligence claim if:
A dentist failed to diagnose decay in your wisdom teeth. Is this negligent?
If your dentist fails to diagnose decay in one of your wisdom teeth and the decay worsens as a result, this is likely negligent. If you have been affected by this, please contact us to discuss this further.
As a general rule, cases should come to a conclusion between 12-18 months after the first time you contact us. However, each case is different and this may vary dependent on the facts.
The compensation you may receive will vary depending on what injury you sustain. For example, if you sustain permanent nerve damage as a result of a wisdom tooth extraction, you will receive more than if you suffer a period of pain as a result of a substandard extraction.
Compensation received following a successful claim for dental negligence will be comprised of:
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.