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Thursday, 19 March 2015 08:13

Dental Negligence Claim – Unnecessary Extraction of Wisdom Teeth

If problematic wisdom teeth are not extracted, complications such as impaction, infections and crowding of the remaining teeth can occur. However, the procedure is itself not without risks and poor dental practice increases the risk of problems following extraction. One of the most common complaints against dentists following extraction of wisdom teeth is nerve damage, which, as shown in this dental negligence case study, can lead to lasting symptoms that can have a significant impact on someone's life.

Unnecessary extraction of wisdom teeth – case study

In this case, the client was advised to have all of her wisdom teeth extracted. This in itself was an unusual suggestion, as the four teeth had not caused her any problems since they appeared a number of years previously. The lady attended her usual dental practice to have her wisdom teeth extracted while she was under sedation, though the procedure lasted longer than it usually would and when she regained consciousness she was in significant pain.

The first signs of nerve damage

The following week the patient returned for the removal of stitches from her jaw. At this appointment she alerted the dental staff to numbness around the right edge of her tongue. After two months there was no improvement and she also developed a tingling sensation. As a result, the lady was referred to a dental hospital to determine whether she had sustained damage to the nerves of her tongue.

Based on the findings she was advised that exploratory surgery to find the nerve endings may not be successful and that she most likely would not regain normal sensation in her mouth, particularly if any further surgery was attempted. As a result, the lady decided against the exploratory procedure.

Loss of taste, speech and an unquenchable thirst

As predicted her symptoms didn't improve and actually worsened in the three years following the extraction, losing complete sensation along the right side of her mouth. The lady's tongue felt permanently swollen and she always felt thirsty. Her speech also suffered as a result of the dental malpractice, now finding it troublesome to pronounce some words; unsurprisingly she felt self-conscious and less confident, making her reluctant to speak.

Additionally, the sensation of taste was greatly reduced, so the majority of food and drink items now seem as if they have no flavour and she can only taste spicy foods.

A dental negligence claim is made

The lady investigated the dental complaints procedure at her practice. However, as a result of these lasting effects and the impact they had on her life, she decided to pursue a dental malpractice claim. Seeking the advice of a dental negligence team, they reviewed her dental records and were confident that there was sufficient evidence to support a successful claim. They instructed an independent dental expert to compile a report detailing the substandard care she had received and how this directly led to the nerve damage she sustained.
After compiling this information, a letter was sent to the dentist and practice in question to provide details of the allegations of dental negligence and the claim. This was sent before starting legal proceedings to allow the dental surgery time to investigate the occurrence and inform the clinical negligence solicitors whether they would settle the claim or provide their own evidence to contest the case.

Receipt of £19,000 compensation

After the dental practice was informed of the details surrounding the claim, the lady was referred for an independent assessment of the damage she sustained following removal of her wisdom teeth and the long-term impact of this. The examination didn't just consider the physical impacts suffered by the lady, but the wider consequences on her working and social life.

This detailed report provided the information needed to make an assessment of the level of dental negligence compensation available to her. Once this payment was decided, the dentist was invited to offer compensation. After admitting liability and taking part in negotiations, dental compensation of £19,000 was secured for the lady.

Although it was possible to settle this dental negligence claim out of court, not all claimants receive their compensation so easily. When the dental staff will not admit liability or the compensation they offer is not considered satisfactory, court proceedings are necessary, sometimes taking two to three years in all to reach a satisfactory settlement in more complex cases.

At Dental Accident Helpline we want to make sure you have maximum support in taking your claim to court. For advice now about your claim ring 0330 223 2697 or fill in our online compensation form.

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