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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.
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.
Mr B first instructed us complaining that his dentist had extracted a tooth, which then created problems with his sinus. After thorough investigation, Steve Wake obtained expert evidence that suggested Mr B’s dentist had extracted his upper right first molar (UR6) unnecessarily. The sinus problems were caused by an ora-antral fistula (which is essentially a hole between your gum and sinus). Ora-antral fistulas are a recognised complication of tooth extractions. However, in Mr B’s case the tooth was extracted unnecessarily, so the creation of the fistula was negligent.
Expert evidence suggested that Mr B would require future maxillofacial treatment, as well as an implant and crown to fill the gap left by his UR6. He suffered nearly three years of pain and discomfort unnecessarily and would have to undergo further procedures as a result of the Defendant’s negligence.
Steve Wake achieved an out-of-court settlement of £20,000.
Samantha Swaby acted for a client who received £3,000 following the unnecessary extraction of her lower left second molar (LL7). The Claimant attended her dentist complaining of toothache and sensitivity, and the dentist extracted her tooth that day. A couple of days later, the Claimant was still experiencing pain and sensitivity. The dentist restored another of the Claimant’s teeth, and her symptoms resolved. The Claimant then became aware that the tooth that was extracted was not the source of her pain and should not have been removed.
Katie Parr recovered £5,250 for a Claimant whose lower left first molar (LL6) was accidentally extracted instead of her lower left second molar (LL7).
The Claimant attended an appointment with the Defendant dentist with swelling around her LL6. The Defendant advised the Claimant that it would require extraction.
The Claimant returned five days later for the extraction. At the end of the appointment, she realised that the Defendant had mistakenly extracted her LL7, which was healthy. The LL6, which was unhealthy and causing significant pain, later required extraction and replacement with an implant.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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 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:
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.