For most people, a visit to the dentist is a nerve-wracking experience that is generally kept to a minimum. In fact, many people put it off for as long as they can, until it is deemed absolutely necessary due perhaps to persistent discomfort or toothache.
However, when they do muster up the courage to go, it can then be extremely upsetting to later discover they have been a victim of dental negligence – especially if your dentist took out the wrong tooth.
The total number of these incidents can be difficult to assess, as figures are not widely available, but of the 472 serious preventable incidents recorded by NHS England for April 2019-March 2020, 226 were categorised as ‘wrong-site surgery’ and wrong tooth extractions accounted for the second highest number of incidents in that category.
It should also be noted that many of the population now receive their regular and emergency dental treatment from a Private Dentist, rather than via the NHS. So, it would be reasonable to surmise that the true number of wrong tooth extraction incidents per year across the UK is considerably higher.
In support of this, we found that the General Dental Council received almost 2400 patient complaints against Dentists back in 2007, of which a large proportion specifically related to having had the wrong tooth taken out. These incidents are a serious breach of a Dentist’s duty of care to their patients and should not simply be dismissed as just ‘one of those things’.
We understand that the effect of such dental negligence may significantly affect the quality of someone’s life, causing unnecessary pain (both physically and mentally) and additional financial expense. So, if you are a victim of this type of negligence, this article offers a no-frills insight into helping you file a successful wrong tooth extraction claim.
What Is Wrong Tooth Extraction?
Usually, the process of tooth extraction is painless and proceeds without a hitch, but there are times when the dentist can make a mistake by removing the wrong tooth.
In some cases, the negligent dentist damages a neighbouring tooth while extracting a problem tooth. When these scenarios occur, the victim of dental negligence can be subjected to additional pain and suffering. If you have been a victim of a tooth extraction gone wrong, you can file a claim for compensation.
How Does A Wrong Tooth Extraction Occur?
The most common reasons this occurs include:
- The inability of dentists to get full consent regarding tooth extraction.
- Misreading of medical records, referral letters or charts by dentists.
- Opting for extraction in lieu of other preventive measures.
- Believing that a surrounding tooth is responsible for the problem.
What Are The Complications That Could Arise As A Result Of Wrong Tooth Extraction?
The most commonly reported complications include the following:
- Nerve damage
- Severe lacerations which could lead to scarring
- Prolonged bleeding
- Severe post-operative swelling
What Are The Effects Of A Wrong Tooth Extraction?
The sobering effects of this type of dental issue are given below.
1) Financial Losses
When a wrong tooth has been extracted, it must be corrected to avoid causing further damage to the patient’s teeth.
However, this correction is not carried out for free. The patient must still pay for any and all corrective surgeries that will follow. Someone should not be out-of-pocket due to a dentist’s negligence and these additional costs can form part of a claim for compensation.
2) Psychological Strain
Being a victim of dental negligence could amplify a person’s fear of dentists. The knowledge that there are still further visits to be made to rectify the error could be particularly distressing for someone who already has a fear of dentists and the whole experience could be a traumatic one.
3) Reduced Quality Of Life
In the event of a wrong tooth extraction, you may be left with a large gap in your teeth for between three to six months.
This timescale occurs because your gum must heal before a bridge can be fitted into the gap. In any case, you may have some trouble drinking or eating for some time.
In addition, if the gap is noticeable, it can deal a substantial blow to your self-confidence – particularly now that we live in the age of social media.
Of course, in certain circumstances, your job may even rely on your physical appearance (such as being a model, a media influencer or actor etc), so dental negligence of this type could greatly impact many aspects of a victim’s life.
If you wish to discuss your specific experience and talk through the claims process with an adviser who will work on your behalf, please click below.
What Should I Do When My Dentist Extracts A Wrong Tooth?
There are steps you can take if you have been a victim of wrong tooth extraction and they include:
1) Consult A Medical Practitioner
Your compensation amount will be mostly determined by the opinion of your GP and/or another Dental Practitioner. Therefore, it is important that you don’t ignore this task, even if you personally believe the injuries are minor.
During the course of restorative treatment, your doctor and your alternative choice of dentist will assess your injuries, advise on the long-term prognosis, and its effect on your overall well-being.
2) Collate All Injury-related Expenses
Apart from the cost of tooth extraction, there are other expenses that you may have incurred as a result of the injuries.
For example, in a bid to deal with the pain, you might have bought some pain-relievers. During a compensation settlement, these additional expenses are listed as special damages and you could have them reimbursed.
However, to qualify for this, you must keep a record of all related expenses. In other words, keep all your receipts or other similar documents in a safe place, so they are available when you make a claim.
3) Obtain Contact Details
Another thing you must do is to get the contact details of the dentist that worked on your teeth at the time of the wrong tooth extraction.
Also, it is important to write down the contact details of the healthcare facility where it happened and the owners details. Finally, if there was anyone else in the operating/procedure room with you and the dentist at the time, you could also get their first-hand account of the incident.
4) Find A Solicitor
Your solicitor will set the ball rolling in ensuring that you get your deserved compensation. So, ensure that he/she is certified to practice and is experienced in cases related to medical and dental negligence.
Also, your solicitor should readily accept a No Win, No Fee arrangement – which is an agreement that only requires payment if you win the case.
You can contact a claims adviser using the form on this page to arrange a free no-obligation call-back if you believe you have suffered a wrong tooth extraction or other dental/medical negligence injury in the last three years.
How Is The Compensation Calculated?
Your compensation amount will be determined by several factors and they are as follows:
1) Past Financial Loss
This factor deals with all the financial losses you accrued as a result of the wrong tooth extraction. It includes expenditures such as travel expenses or prescription costs.
2) Loss Of Earnings
If your dental issues required you to take time off work, you could be compensated for loss of earnings during that period.
3) Future Treatment Costs
The amount of money you will need (or needed) to correct the problem will also be included in the compensation settlement. There will be allowances for specialist appointments as well as maintenance costs in the future, should they apply.
4) Pain And Suffering
Compensation for any pain and trauma you suffered from the wrongful extraction is also considered when calculating the claim settlement. In addition, if the error detrimentally affected your sleeping or eating patterns, or caused you embarrassment etc, you may be compensated for those too.
How Much Compensation Should I Expect?
It is not possible to pinpoint the exact amount you will be awarded as compensation, but a claims adviser may be able to give you details of possible settlement figures for a claim such as yours.
As you would expect, the amount of financial compensation depends greatly on the severity of the damage and the time taken for a full recovery.
The amounts payable for such claims can range anywhere upwards of a few hundred pounds for the wrongful extraction of a back tooth to tens of thousands of pounds for someone left with chronic mouth pain and an untreatable abscess.
In any case, it is important to realise you can make a claim for these types of dental errors and speaking to a claims could be the first step to finding out if you have a valid claim and can obtain the compensation you deserve.
1) Severity Of Damage Compensation
This is the part of the claim that deals with the physical damage caused and considers what action is required to fix the damage. Compensation awarded for loss of teeth at the front will generally be higher than the pay-out for a back tooth, but all the individual details will be taken into account.
2) Time Taken For Full Recovery Compensation
Compensation can also be claimed based on the recovery time needed, so the longer the recover time, the higher the amount awarded.
How Do I Know If I Have Been A Victim Of Wrong Tooth Extraction?
For some people, it may be immediately obvious that a wrong tooth has been removed in error.
For example, assuming you were going in for a wisdom tooth extraction and one of your molars was removed instead, then it is easy to file for compensation. However, if your dentist carried out a tooth extraction that was entirely unnecessary, you would have a strong claim for compensation.
Sadly, this can be a common issue with tooth extraction, as some dentists appear to favour tooth extraction over alternative more conservative treatments when dealing with a dental issue. If you are in any doubt, to be on the safe side, consult a different dentist for a second opinion.
Is There A Time Limit For Filing A Claim?
Yes, there is. Filing for compensation in the UK should occur within a three-year time limit, beginning from the day the injury happened. However, if you discover you have been a victim of wrong tooth extraction after the three years has elapsed, your three-year period will start from the day you became aware of it.
As for how long the process will take, a typical dental negligence claim takes between 12 – 18 months to complete, dependant on the specific details and admission of negligence.
How Will Negligence By My Dentist Be Established?
The process begins when your solicitor contacts the dentist responsible for your extraction.
All of the relevant notes dealing with your dental issue will be presented to an independent dental expert. This expert, in turn, will review the notes to ascertain if due diligence was observed during your tooth extraction or not.
The expert will also try to determine if another dentist would have made the same mistake. Once the expert concludes the review and if he/she deems your extraction avoidable, you can ask your solicitor to proceed with filing for compensation.
The Dentist Responsible For My Wrong Tooth Extraction Has Retired – Can I Still Claim?
Providing you have not exceeded the time limit, you can still potentially make a claim. The law makes it compulsory for all dentists to be a member of the General Dentist Council (GDN) before they can practice. The same law also ensures all dentists have proper insurance and indemnity. This makes it easy for patients to seek compensation where necessary.
So even if a dentist is retired, he/she can still be made to pay for damages that happened during their practicing days.
My Dentist Took Out The Wrong Tooth Claims – To Sum Up
The wrongful extraction of any tooth is a serious matter that should not be dismissed as an unavoidable error or minor inconvenience. There have been instances where the severity of damage caused has left its victims unable to work, substantially reducing their quality of life.
If you have been the victim of wrong tooth extraction recently or in the past three years contacting a solicitor as soon as possible could help you file a successful claim and go some way towards compensating you for any time lost and your pain and suffering.