Dental claims and dental negligence law is a very specialist area. Our experienced dental negligence lawyers understand the anxieties, concerns and frustration that may be caused by negligent dental care and treatment. We also fully understand the practical problems and social embarrassments that may be caused by unwanted or unexpected changes in our appearance or the ability to eat, feel, taste or swallow.
We have helped many people make successful claims and receive compensation for their injuries as well as for any corrective treatment. We are true professionals with both legal and dental knowledge and expertise to help you get the right compensation and any corrective treatment that you may require.
Prevention v treatment
As with many things, prevention is better than cure!
Looking after our teeth and gums is as important as looking after our general health and well-being. As well as needing healthy teeth and gums so as we can eat a balanced diet in comfort, if we are embarrassed by the appearance of our teeth and gums, this can affect every aspect of our lives.
Although we must take responsibility for the day-to-day cleaning and care of our teeth and gums, we all rely on a dentist to regularly check that everything is healthy, to let us know when we need dental treatment or even better, to help and tell us how we can prevent tooth decay, gum disease or any other problems that may affect our mouth.
Frequency of check-ups
There is no single guideline that specifies how often we should go to a dentist for a routine check-up and in fact, this will vary according to our individual dental needs based on how much tooth decay (caries) and/or gum disease we have experienced and any specific dental or oral issues or causes for concern. However, a regular check-up gives an opportunity for us to have not only our teeth checked, but also our gums for gum disease and our mouths for mouth cancer.
Prevention of tooth decay
Although we know that we should clean our teeth and that the sugars and acids in food and drink will weaken our teeth, until we are specifically told that we need to pay more attention to our teeth, we tend to think that we’re doing everything we need to do.
In order to prevent tooth decay, the balance between good oral hygiene with the use of a strengthening fluoride toothpaste must be greater than the frequency of attack by acids, bacteria and sugar, which all weaken the tooth structure.
Every time we put acid or sugar in our mouth, it takes the saliva around 40 minutes to clear the acids and sugars from our mouth. In other words, if we have a habit of drinking an acidic or sugary drink every 30 minutes, our teeth will be under constant attack throughout the day and far more likely to be developing new areas of weakness and tooth decay.
Such simple information can help us care for our teeth and prevent tooth decay. However, this is only if we are told that we are at greater risk of needing more fillings and we are asked about our lifestyle and habits so that our level of risk can be managed and reduced.
Prevention of periodontal (gum) disease
As with tooth decay, we generally tend to believe that our daily tooth brushing is sufficient to look after our gums. However, if we do have periodontal disease, it is important that we are told this and given professional help to improve our daily oral hygiene and prevent further deterioration.
Although we know that we should clean our teeth and look after our gums, from time to time we may need a nudge to remind us to spend longer with our toothbrush, or perhaps to make sure we don’t miss a specific area.
Gingivitis can so easily be cured and prevented just by a little professional help to improve our daily oral hygiene.
Prevention of wisdom teeth problems
When wisdom teeth get stuck half in-half out of the gum, they may cause recurrent infections in the surrounding gum and bone due to bacteria getting underneath the flap of gum.
Sometimes, it may be possible to remove the gum flap in order to make it easier to keep the gum around the wisdom tooth clean and healthy.
By this simple recognition of a contributing cause to the recurrent infections and a little professional preventive care and/or advice, the risk of recurrent pain and infections may be considerably reduced
Prevention of implant failure
It is important that any hygiene issues that caused and/or contributed to the periodontal disease and tooth loss should be addressed in order to prevent the costly and frustrating loss of implant supported teeth.
Although the success rate of dental implants is around 100%, in a smoker’s mouth this falls to about 50% – which basically means that dental implants should not be placed in a patient who smokes.
Smokers should be advised to give up smoking before they consider dental implant procedures in order to give the implants the best chance of succeeding.
Smoking generally slows the healing process after any surgery and it most certainly reduces the chances of any graft being successful. Again, simple advice to stop smoking may have a significant effect on the outcome and success of graft surgery.
Prevention of mouth cancer
Smoking is the biggest cause of mouth cancer. After all, if smoking causes lung cancer, it can also cause cancer in the mouth, nose and/or throat.
If you smoke and regularly drink quantities of alcohol, your risk of developing mouth cancer increases after the age of 40.
Although smoking is also the most common cause of two precancerous conditions (erythroplakia and leukoplakia), they may also be caused by chewing tobacco and poorly fitting dentures or badly shaped fillings, which continually rub the oral mucosa.
If you stop smoking/chewing tobacco, get a better fitting denture or have the filling smoothed (recontoured) or replaced these precancerous conditions often just disappear. However, they will come back if you start smoking again.
Although we all know that smoking and regularly drinking alcohol are part of an unhealthy lifestyle, our dental appointments give dentists an opportunity to let us know if there is any additional and more pressing reason why we need to stop these bad habits.
However, we rely on the dental professionals to recognise, diagnose and tell us about any abnormalities that are present in our mouth.
Dental negligence claims arising from the delay or failure to give preventive care and/or advice
The most common claims involving the delay or failure to give preventive care and/or advice include the following:
- Delay or failure to investigate the cause of reported tooth sensitivity
- Delay or failure to diagnose and/or treat tooth decay
- Repeated need for new fillings without any referral for review of dietary risk factors or advice about oral hygiene measures
- Tooth decay occurring around new fillings
- Delay or failure to recognize the visual signs of gingivitis
- Delay or failure to explain the cause of gingivitis or give preventive care and/or advice
- Delay or failure to diagnose and/or treat periodontal (gum) disease
- Delay or failure to explain the cause of periodontal disease or give preventive care and/or advice
- Unnecessary progression of periodontal disease with associated tooth loss
- Delay or failure to investigate any reported symptoms of periodontal disease
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