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Claim for undiagnosed gum disease

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The earliest stage of periodontal disease is referred to as gingivitis with symptoms often being swollen, bleeding gums. If left untreated, this can develop into chronic adult periodontitis, characterised by a breakdown of the tooth’s attachment to the gum and bone. It leads to loss of bone, mobility of the teeth, and ultimately loss of teeth entirely.

Unfortunately, one of the most common types of claim we see is undiagnosed periodontal disease. We understand the impact such a painful and chronic disease has on a patient, and know it can be especially frustrating if it has been undiagnosed over a long period and allowed to progress unchecked.

How long will it take to make a claim?

As a general rule, cases concerning undiagnosed periodontal disease should conclude between 18-30 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 you lose several teeth as a result of undiagnosed periodontal disease, you will receive more compensation than if you only require periodontal treatment and scaling.

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 to replace a tooth lost as a result of undiagnosed periodontal disease. 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 travel to a specialist appointment as a result of dental negligence, the cost of this will likely be recoverable.

A dentist failed to diagnose periodontal disease, but they have 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.

“Having recently been successful in my Dental Negligence Claim, I can’t speak highly enough of the team at Royds Withy King. I was kept well informed throughout and was provided with excellent advice. If you are considering pursuing a claim I would definitely recommend contacting them”

Lisa Ashworth on TrustPilot

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.

How should a dentist monitor the health of your gums?

Dentists should carry out regular monitoring of the health of their patients’ gums, both by taking a history from the patient, and also by “pocket testing” – a basic periodontal examination (BPE).

With BPE scoring, a small probe is gently used to measure the depth of the gum line and to identify any gum loss (recession) on each and every tooth. Special attention should also be paid to whether the probing causes any bleeding as this can indicate the extent of inflammation in the gums. If your dentist fails to do these tests, they may well be treating you negligently.

Some people will have increased susceptibility to periodontal disease, particularly those with poor oral hygiene, diabetes and those who smoke. So, if you are at high risk of contracting the disease, it is particularly important that your dentist monitors the health of your gums regularly.


“My dental negligence claim was dealt with in a very professional matter. I was kept informed and advised all the way through the proceedings to its successful conclusion. I had my doubts about pursuing the claim at first but I’m very glad I did. I can say it was stress free. Would highly recommend.”

David Wrigley on TrustPilot

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