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Tooth Extraction Negligence

One of the most common enquiries we receive is for wrongful extractions. If you need an extraction, and the dentist removes the wrong tooth or damages another tooth in the process, then you may have a claim for compensation.

extractions

A claim, if successful, will compensate you for any pain and discomfort caused (you will still need to have the correct tooth extracted and therefore will have had an unnecessary and avoidable painful procedure), as well as the cost of a replacement tooth, which will most likely be in the form of an implant and crown or a bridge.

In addition to this, there may be a claim for repeat treatments over the course of your life. An implant may last a lifetime, but the implant retained crown is likely to need replacing approximately  every 15 years and must be considered when assessing the claim.

It is below the standard of a reasonably competent dental professional to extract or damage a neighbouring tooth during an extraction.

It is also worth remembering any advice you were given when your dentist suggested extraction.

Occasionally we have heard that patients have been pushed down the route towards extraction, when a root canal treatment may have saved the tooth in the short or medium term. This is because a root treatment is usually completed over two appointments and an extraction over one. Under the NHS fees system it is more profitable to extract a tooth than it is to undertake root canal treatment.

Recent cases

 

Common issues following tooth extraction

If you have had a tooth extracted, and are experiencing issues, it could have been caused by negligence. Find out more by clicking on the problem you have experienced.

ROOTS LEFT IN GUM

The dentist left some roots in the gum. Is this negligent?

Not necessarily, in some cases it is necessary. Some roots are close to the nerves in your jaw and removal of the roots with the tooth may cause permanent nerve damage. Because of this, some dentists will elect to leave the roots of a tooth present in the gum following an extraction.

However, prior to following this course of treatment, the dentist must discuss this with you and advise you of the risks and benefits.

In other cases, a dentist may unintentionally leave behind some of the roots of a tooth following an extraction. However, this too is not necessarily negligent. This would only be negligent if the dentist fails to advise you of this and discuss your treatment options with you (which would most likely be referral to a dental hospital for the removal of the retained roots).

If you go back to your dentist complaining of pain at an extraction site and your dentist fails to diagnose a retained root, you should contact us as you may have a claim for dental negligence.

WRONG TOOTH EXTRACTED

The dentist extracted the wrong tooth, is there a possible claim for dental negligence?

If your dentist mistakenly extracted a healthy tooth instead of the one that was planned for extraction, you most certainly will have a claim for dental negligence.

However, a difficulty arises if the tooth that was mistakenly extracted was unhealthy or if there was some confusion as to which tooth should have been extracted. This is because you need to prove “causation” to successfully claim for dental negligence, which provides that you must have suffered harm as a result of the negligence that you would not have suffered otherwise.

To provide an example, a patient attends their dentist for an extraction as their tooth is decayed. However, the patient’s dentist mistakenly extracts the neighbouring tooth, which is also badly decayed.

If it is clinically proven that the extraction of the neighbouring tooth would have most likely been necessary in any event due to the decay, the patient would not have a claim for dental negligence.

INFECTION FOLLOWING AN EXTRACTION

An infection occurred after the tooth was extracted. Is this negligent?

The contraction of an infection after an extraction is a recognised risk, and therefore does not generally indicate substandard care. It is not necessarily negligent for a dentist not to prescribe antibiotics after an extraction.

However, a patient may have a dental negligence claim when:

  • the patient returns to the practice with pain, limited mouth opening, pus from the socket and feverish symptoms yet the dentist still doesn’t prescribe antibiotics
  • the patient returns to the practice with the above symptoms, yet the practitioner does not refer them for further treatment
  • the patient is at high risk of an infection following an extraction (for instance, if they smoke, are diabetic, have poor oral hygiene) and the practitioner did not provide antibiotics at the first instance
  • the dentist did not advise the patient of the risk of an infection prior to the extraction, i.e. if the dentist did not obtain informed consent for the procedure. Informed consent is a principle by which prior to an extraction, the dentist must describe all available treatment options (including the cost of each treatment options), and also explain the risks and benefits associated with each course of treatment. If a dentist fails to advise their patient of a particular risk and discuss it with them, a patient may have a claim for dental negligence if that risk subsequently becomes a reality.

A FRACTURED JAW

You suffered a fractured mandible after the tooth was extracted. Is this negligent?

A fractured mandible is an unfortunate, yet recognised, risk associated with tooth extractions (particularly those on the lower jaw).

However, a patient who has suffered a fractured mandible may have a dental negligence claim if the following apply:

  • The patient has a confirmed diagnosis of fractured mandible (this will be diagnosed after at least two separate x-rays have been taken by an Oral Maxillofacial Specialist or an Oral Surgeon, generally in hospital), and the initial extraction was particularly difficult. This will generally occur in situations in which the teeth were impacted or had not fully erupted, and when the patient should have been referred to a hospital for the extraction.
  • The patient has a confirmed diagnosis of fractured mandible (in the circumstance detailed above) and the dentist failed to warn them of this risk prior to the procedure, i.e. the dentist failed to obtain the patient’s informed consent (as discussed above).

The dentist tells you that an extraction is required, but there is no longer any pain. Can this be right?

Yes, the pain may get better over time. The infection or decay may not have gone but your body is dealing with the pain differently. Lack of pain, or reduced pain, does not necessarily mean that the tooth is recovering.

Your dentist should monitor a tooth using x-rays and examinations and they should discuss all the options with you. In addition, they should tell you the risks and benefits associated with each course of treatment.


How long will it take to make a claim?

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.

How much compensation might you receive? How is it calculated?

The compensation you may receive will vary depending on what injury you sustain. For example, if a dentist negligently damages a healthy tooth during an extraction, you will receive more compensation 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:

  • 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.

The substandard extraction was done by a dentist who has since retired. Can you sue a retired dentist?

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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