What is a Dental Injury and Types of Common Dental Injuries
A dental injury involves trauma to the mouth, including teeth, lips, gums, tongue and jawbones.
Dental injuries include
- chipped teeth
- teeth fractures
- a tooth knocked loose or knocked out
- a tooth jammed into the socket and fractures of the tooth socket wall
- a jaw fracture and lacerations of the lips and gums
What Constitutes Dental Negligence?
Dental negligence occurs when a medical professional has failed to provide a reasonable standard of care to you when you have suffered a dental injury or have attended for dental treatment. Examples include incorrect, delayed or poor dental treatment that has led you to experience further injury or suffering.
- Whom Can I Claim Against?
You can claim against the dentist or orthodontist personally if they are not covered by the Clinical Indemnity Scheme.
Dental Negligence Claims
If you have suffered an injury or further suffering because of the negligence of a dentist, you could be entitled to claim for dental negligence.
The Medical Practitioners Act 2007 includes dentists as legally recognised medical practitioners in Ireland. They are required to practice dentistry to the highest medical standard. Because dentists are considered medical practitioners, you will have to pursue your claim through a solicitor, as it will not be possible to lodge a dental negligence claim with the Injuries Board.
Dental negligence claims arise when a person’s teeth or mouth are injured because of dental treatment or their appearance has been affected due to dental malpractice.
Types of Dental Negligence Claims
Cosmetic Dentistry Claims
Reasons for cosmetic dentistry claims can include:
- Damage or poor appearance following cosmetic dental treatment
- Incorrect use of whitening treatments
Reasons for non-cosmetic dentistry claims include:
- Nerve damage
- Failure to properly diagnose a dental condition
- Delay in diagnosis of a dental condition
- Misdiagnosis of a dental condition
- Extraction of the wrong tooth
- Inadequate root canal treatment, fillings or crowns
- Inadequate orthodontic treatment
- Failure to manage tooth decay or gum disease
- Failure to treat a dental condition at all
Nerve Damage Claims
Nerve damage is one of the injuries that can occur through dental negligence. This damage can be long-lasting. You may be able to claim for compensation if you believe your nerve damage occurred through your dentist’s failure to provide necessary dental care, failure to diagnose an illness or condition, incorrect dental work, or substandard work.
Oral Cancer Claims
Undiagnosed mouth cancer can lead to serious illness or death. Your dentist is more likely than your doctor to diagnose mouth cancer, so they should look for signs of mouth cancer at every check-up. If your dental practitioner fails to diagnose mouth cancer or ignores symptoms of mouth cancer, you may be able to make a dental negligence claim.
Periodontal Disease Claims
Gum disease appears as an inflammation of the gums and is caused by plaque building up on the teeth. Gums may bleed during teeth-brushing, and bad breath (halitosis) may occur. Without timely treatment, gum disease can damage the bone fastening the teeth to the jaw. This is known as periodontal disease.
Teeth may loosen and fall out, and the patient can suffer severe pain and discomfort. If you attend regular dental checkups and your dentist fails to diagnose gum disease or periodontal disease, you may be able to make a periodontal disease claim.
Restorative dentistry claims
Restorative dentistry involves repairing teeth that have been damaged or decayed using the likes of fillings, crowns, and bridges. Many restorative dentistry procedures are necessary because a dental practitioner failed to diagnose tooth decay in the first instance. Any of the following cases could lead to a valid restorative dentistry claim:
- Poorly executed fillings that leave decay in the treated tooth
- Improper cleaning of the cavity before filling
- Untreated decay
- Filling the wrong tooth
- Extracting a tooth unnecessarily
What Is the Time Limit for Dental Negligence Claims?
The time limit for dental negligence claims is generally two years from the time of the alleged negligence. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Read on to find out more about the statute of limitations in respect of dental negligence claims.
Exceptions for Dental Negligence Legal Time Limits In Ireland
A victim may not be aware on the date of the alleged dental negligence that any negligence occurred. The person then arguably has two years less one day from the date of discovery of the alleged negligence. This could, for example, occur at a follow-up appointment when the patient discovers information about the origin of the negligence. Or indeed, it may not occur until the patient is in possession of a copy of his or her medical records. It is important to note that the date of discovery is the date the victim has constructive knowledge of the alleged medical negligence, in other words, when the victim should have known about it.
How to Make a Dental Negligence Claim?
If you are unhappy with the treatment that you have received from your dentist, you may wish to contact a solicitor who is an expert in the field of medical negligence to investigate your case.
It can be a daunting task for a victim of medical negligence to consult with a solicitor to review the issues that they have had with their care.
1. Consulting a Solicitor
The first step in any case is for the solicitor to take up a copy of your medical records from the relevant dentist.
The solicitor will review your records and instruct an independent expert to carry out a report to consider whether the treatment that you have received is below the standard of care that should normally be applied.
2. Establishing Negligence
Dentist negligence means that the dental treatment that you received is below the standard of care that one would ordinarily expect to see that a patient should receive from a dentist.
3. Establishing Causation
It must then be considered that due to the negligent dental treatment that you have received your recovery has been delayed or you have suffered further injury and sustained a loss.
4. Gathering Proof/Medical Care
In order for a solicitor to issue proceedings in a medical negligence action, we must have a positive independent expert report before proceedings can be issued. We would not proceed with a case on your behalf unless we had a positive report from the medical expert and that we were confident of a successful conclusion of your case.
If you or your loved one has suffered from dental negligence, get in touch with us.
With over 50 years of expert legal experience advising patients, we are here to provide expert advice when you need it most.
Call us today on 1800 207 207 or contact us online.