A young woman has told how her decision to have her front two teeth straightened led to a ‘nightmare’ three years as negligent dental treatment left them loose and needing to be taken out.
The patient, who was 21 at the time, was advised to undergo Invisalign treatment – a procedure in which a transparent ‘invisible’ brace is used to straighten teeth over a long period of time.
However, this treatment was advised and carried out despite the specialist orthodontist having noted the breakdown of the roots of one of the teeth in x-rays.
Within weeks of the treatment starting the patient became worried as her teeth felt ‘wobbly’, a problem she says she repeatedly highlighted in check-ups every six to eight weeks, only to be assured all was fine.
However, just four months after having the braces fitted, she went to see an emergency dentist having heard her teeth ‘click’ – and was horrified by his prognosis.
Such was the scale of her problem she had to have her front two teeth removed, and for cosmetic reasons also had the teeth at either side taken out to have a four-tooth bridge fitted, at a personal cost of £6,000, which she funded through taking a bank loan.
Now, after successfully taking legal action against the orthodontist, that money has been recovered as she has received a £17,500 out of court damages settlement to compensate for her losses, pain and suffering, after taking legal action through Hudgell Solicitors.
Patient had to wear dentures before having crown fitted
“It was a horrendous three years, and looking back now I would never have had the treatment to straighten my teeth knowing what I would go through,” said the woman.
“When the x-rays were taken he said that there was quite a lot of root resorption, but when I asked if that was a problem he assured me not and said it wasn’t an issue. You trust the specialists so I agreed to go ahead.
“It was only a matter of weeks though before I began to worry because they felt more wobbly. When I raised this with him at my regular reviews he said that was perfectly normal because the teeth do move as part of the process.
“I was really conscious of how wobbly and loose they felt, so much so that I wouldn’t bite into an apple or anything hard, and I remember I was having a cup of tea when I had a sip and heard a crack. It was like the roots had melted so I went straight to an emergency dentist as I had visions of them just dropping out.
“I couldn’t believe it when I was told how bad the situation was. I lost the two teeth front teeth because they could not be saved, and opted to also replace the two teeth either side so that I could have a four-tooth bridge.
“That meant that I had to wear dentures for three or four months first though, and as a woman in her early 20s that was very difficult.
“I was obviously very self-conscious and although my partner was very supportive it did put a strain on our relationship. I’d never brush my teeth when he was around and I’d make him leave the bathroom.
“Even nights out became a worry. I remember getting ready to go out and feeling so upset that I needed to use denture adhesive to make sure they didn’t fall out during the night.
“It was always on my mind. I worked in recruitment and when I wore my dentures I had a lisp, which again was embarrassing, as was having to explain to my colleagues and managers at work why I needed so much time off.
“It was all so avoidable, and I had I been told losing my teeth was a risk I would never have opted to have them straightened. I felt so let down.”
Solicitor says patient should have been advised of significant risk
Solicitor Sarah Scully, of Hudgell Solicitors, represented the woman in a legal case against the orthodontist, claiming negligent care had led to the avoidable loss of her front two teeth. She said the patient should have been advised of the risk of going ahead with the treatment.
“We have a case here where alarm bells should have been ringing when the initial radiographs were taken as it was clear our client was very much susceptible to further root resorption,” she said.
“It should have been made very clear that this was the situation, and that by going ahead with the procedure she risked losing these two teeth. That was not done and our client was not given the opportunity to make an informed decision.
“Also, the treatment plan should have been kept to a short duration, with all movement carefully documented and monitored. This was not the case.
“As our client has said, had she been given that information she would not have chosen to go ahead with the procedure and she would have been spared what has been a very difficult time physically, emotionally and financially.”
Legal process secured £17,500 damages
Now happy with how her teeth look, the patient says she will be forever grateful for the help and support provided by Hugdell Solicitors, and in particular Mrs Scully, who secured the £17,500 damages settlement, despite representatives of the orthodontist initially offering a settlement of £12,500.
“I can’t thank Sarah enough for what she did for me and I’d not hesitate to recommend her to anybody else who was in a similar situation.
“I chose Hudgell Solicitors because I looked at a number of firms who handled dental claims and the testimonials for the clients, and results, were very good. I have seen why with Sarah. From the start it was very clear that she was completely on top of the case and pushing for the best result.
“Even when the offer came in to settle at £12,500 she said to me that she believed the case warranted a higher settlement, which we achieved. The advice and support I had was excellent.”