With her wedding just months away, Faye Walters was horrified by the thought of possibly walking down the aisle with grey teeth.
Having been bullied in childhood due to mineral imbalances which made them lose their white appearance, she had hoped a new set of veneers would put the days of feeling self-concious behind her.
However, with her wedding just around the corner, Faye began having serious problems with the set of six veneers she had hoped would give her a long-lasting, healthy smile.
Not only had they become discloured, but twice veneers cracked when she was eating, with the second time requiring emergency treatment from an on-call dentist.
It was only then that Faye discovered her teeth and gums were badly damaged as a result of the poor work of her own dentist, and that it would cost her more than £7,000 – and five months of treatment – to put right.
Now, Faye is sharing her story as research, carried out by Neil Hudgell Solicitors, has revealed two in every five Brits would be willing to have cosmetic surgery to keep their other half happy.
Over a third of young people (aged 18-34), would consider a surgical procedure to keep their Valentine happy, with denistry being the area of work most people in the UK would be most likely to consider (19 per cent).
Despite 75 per cent of people being concerned about a lack of information around cosmetic surgery, close to half say they would still go through with a procedure, despite the industry being loosely regulated should anything go wrong.
“It was only when my second veneer cracked and I went to see a new dentist that I discovered the full extent of the problem,” said Faye, 29.
“I bit into a bagel and it shattered completely. It was disgusting. I could see my tooth was black. It was something I was so conscious of because of the bullying I’d suffered at school. For it to start going wrong so horrifically again was awful.”
Faye had never realised that her dentist, who she had seen from being a child, had no extra qualifications or training for fitting veneers – a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of the tooth.
In what is a very loosely regulated industry, dentists need no such qualifications to carry out the work, although many do have evidence of training courses and can point to previous successful procedures.
“I had lost faith in my old dentist, so I went online to do some research to try and understand what sort of qualifications people should have to fit them,” said Faye.
“I discovered there were courses for dentists to make sure they have all the information they need to fit veneers properly, and that my original dentist didn’t have those. I found one who did and when he saw my teeth he was horrified and said it was the worst case of its kind he had seen in his 25-year career.
“The new dentist told me the veneers had not been fitted correctly and there was a gap between my gums and the veneers, which meant bacteria was getting in and eating away at the bond which holds everything together,” said the senior marketing specialist.
All six of Faye’s veneers needed replacing and she also had to undergo painful treatment of her gums, as well as ongoing treatment to tackle the gum disease she was left with.
The treatment cost £7,366.20 and had to be carried out over a five-month period, but was thankfully complete before her wedding to fiance Matthew, 35, in September 2014.
“I was planning my wedding and all I could think about was how grey my teeth would look in the photographs, or the possibility of having a veneer falling out,” said Faye, who now lives in Buckinghamshire.
Having taken legal action, through Neil Hudgell Solicitors, against the Hertfordshire-based dentist who had fitted her six veneers so poorly at a cost of close to £2,000 in July 2010, Faye was eventually paid £10,000 in compensation, covering the cost of her new set, and also helping to compensate for her pain and suffering.
Now, with her teeth fully repaired, her gums healed, and a nice set of wedding pictures including plenty of smiles, Faye says she will never forget her ordeal and is calling for much tighter regulation across the dental profession.
“I don’t think dentists should be allowed to perform cosmetic dental procedures without having gone through additional training,” she said.
“My first dentist had lots of certificates in his waiting room and I always felt as though I could trust him as he was a professional. I didn’t know there was anything drastically wrong and because I trusted him I never questioned it. He had been my dentist since I was a little girl and I had known him all my life.
“Thankfully my new dentist, from Senova dental studios in Watford, Hertfordshire, cleaned my teeth and managed to save them before fitting my new veneers. They are great now and everything has healed.”
Sarah Smith, litigation assistant at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, represented Faye in her compensation claim, and says her case is a good example of the need for greater regulation of industries such as cosmetic surgery and dentistry.
She said: “All too often we represent clients who have suffered as a result of dental or cosmetic surgery negligence and, as in this case, patients can suffer both financially and emotionally.
“Any form of cosmetic surgery or dental procedures should be very carefully considered and researched. Is the person you are trusting the right doctor or dentist to carry out the work? Are they trained? Do they have a good track record and are they insured. These are all questions patients need to ask.
“Both industries need much greater regulation. Patients currently have very little to support and guide them in making the right choice and, when things go wrong, often there is not enough regulation of the industries or options to hold those responsible accountable. That must change.
“Having veneers fitted is a very costly procedure and we were very pleased to have secured a positive outcome for Faye. However, we hope her case sends out a clear message to others that cosmetic dentistry, and any form of cosmetic surgery, is not something people should rush into.”