Dental Negligence FAQs

If you’ve experienced substandard treatment in the dentist’s chair but need more information before making a claim, the FAQs below address any queries and concerns you might have about your eligibility.

We’ve answered the questions we’re asked most regularly about cases of insufficient care and treatment at the dentist, helping you to understand the type of claim, the assessment process and how we can help you to secure the compensation you’re entitled to.

What is dental negligence?

Dental negligence refers to pain, injury or trauma suffered as a result of substandard treatment. The most severe cases can have a dramatic impact on a person’s health, leading to the onset of permanent nerve damage, lifelong pain or the progression of mouth cancer.

To prove dental negligence, claimants must be able to show evidence that they have suffered injury, damage or unnecessary pain and suffering as a result of poor treatment. It may not be possible to make a claim unless you can adequately prove that damage or injury was incurred by your dentist.

If you’ve experienced any of the following, you could be entitled to dental injury compensation.

  • Misdiagnosis — A false diagnosis or misdiagnosis occurs when a problem is misjudged, leading to worsening symptoms and unnecessary treatment.
  • Delayed diagnosis — If your dentist takes too long to diagnose a problem with your oral health, to the point where avoidable complications occur, this is delayed diagnosis.
  • Substandard treatment — A dentist’s work is deemed inadequate or substandard when they fail to carry out treatment to a reasonable standard.
  • Poor longterm care — You may be entitled to compensation if your dentist has provided inadequate care over a long period of time, resulting in the onset of serious issues with your mouth. We’ll review your medical records to assess the likelihood of long-term failures and poor treatment.

What are the different types of dental negligence?

Every case of negligent dental treatment has its own unique circumstances that need to be considered. Generally speaking, cases can be categorised as follows:
Delayed diagnosis
If your dentist takes too long to diagnose a problem with your oral health, to the point where further complications occur that could have been avoidable, this is a delayed diagnosis. Examples of this may include your dentist failing to:

  • Treat decay or act upon signs of gum disease
  • Diagnose serious conditions like abscesses, periodontal disease and oral cancer


A false diagnosis or misdiagnosis occurs when a problem is misjudged, leading to worsening symptoms and unnecessary treatment. This could include:

  • Removal of a healthy tooth due to error or misdiagnosis
  • Incorrect drugs administered due to misdiagnosis

Substandard dental work

A dentist’s work is deemed substandard or inadequate when they fail to carry out treatment to a reasonable standard. Examples of substandard work include:

  • Inadequate fillings, crowns, or root canal treatment
  • Incorrect fitting of implants
  • Failed implants
  • Poor standards of hygiene e.g. Not using clean and sterile equipment
  • Improper use of anaesthesia
  • Nerve damage or failure to offer suitable alternative treatment such as root canal treatment prior to extraction

Long-term failings in treatment and care

Often, patients can continue visiting the same dentist for many years without realising that poor treatment is impacting on their long-term health. Prolonged inadequate treatment can have significant consequences, increasing the risk of serious health problems like premature tooth decay and periodontal disease.

How will my claim be assessed?

If we accept your claim, our experienced team will work closely with you to establish the circumstances of your case. Dental claims differ greatly, so we’ll assess the following to build our case and decide on an appropriate settlement sum:

  • Your medical history — We’ll look at your prior history of health problems to assess whether this is a one-off incident exacerbated by your dentist, or an ongoing health issue.
  • Type of injury — The severity of the injury will affect the settlement sum, with more serious problems attracting greater compensation.
  • Severity of pain — If you’re in persistent and severe pain, your claim is likely to fetch a higher settlement.
  • Remedial expenses — One of the key factors in assessing your claim is the cost of ongoing remedial work. Any compensation you receive will help to pay for expensive medical bills and appointments.
  • Prognosis — We’ll assess the long and short term consequences of your injury. Naturally, life-changing damage and health problems will attract higher compensation.

Can I make a dental negligence claim?

If you believe you can show appropriate evidence that your dentist has caused injury, damage or unnecessary pain and suffering, you could be eligible to claim compensation. We’ll closely assess any evidence you provide, as well as the points listed above, to decide if you’re entitled to make a claim.

What can I claim for?

Dental negligence can cause unwanted pain and suffering, impacting your quality of life. It also brings financial implications, with patients forced to pay out thousands for remedial care whilst coping with a direct loss of earnings.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of negligent dental care, you may be able to claim compensation for the following:

  • General damages ­— For any pain and suffering you have experienced
  • Expenses —Any expenses you’ve incurred as part of your claim. This may include further treatment, transport or prescriptions
  • Loss of earnings Due to time off work
  • Remedial costs —For any treatment to repair the damage done by negligent treatment

What does the Law say?

Guidance from the General Dental Council states that all dental practitioners in the UK should be insured against instances of negligence – but there is no law to enforce it.

This lack of firm legislation means that many dentists practising in the UK are not insured, placing a large responsibility on patients to do their research before receiving treatment.

There are plans to bring in legislation which will make insurance a legal requirement, but it is not clear when this is set to come into effect.

Thankfully, most cases are resolved out of court with a settlement, and your solicitor will ensure all settlement offers are given the correct consideration.

What can compensation pay for?

Compensation can help with the cost of rectifying your dentist’s mistakes to get your life back on track. A settlement achieved in a case of substandard dental treatment isn’t for financial gain, but to help cover the cost of ongoing treatment and care, and any loss of earnings which you may have incurred by taking time away from work to attend additional appointments.

How can Hudgell Solicitors help?

With our expert medical negligence team and no win no fee commitment, Hudgell Solicitors can help you overcome the pain and suffering of substandard dental work. Led by Vince Shore, our team will:

  • Obtain independent evidence — Qualified experts will review the evidence of your claim to advise on the treatment provided, and ascertain whether it amounts to negligence.
  • Collect information on your financial losses —Including the cost of multiple treatments, travel expenses, loss of earnings or anything else that has left you out of pocket.
  • Support you throughout the process — The claims process can be complicated, so our knowledgeable team are always available for your questions and queries.

To start your dental negligence claim today or to get free and impartial advice about your situation, call our team now.

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Our experts

Vince Shore

Senior Solicitor and Joint Head of Clinical Negligence

Sam Thompson

Chartered Legal Executive, Clinical Negligence