A woman has received a £35,000 damages settlement after making a legal claim against her dentist for failing to properly care for her – causing her years of excruciating pain and the loss of a number of teeth.
Mother-of-two Georgie Feder, 43, only discovered she had 50 per cent bone loss due to gum disease after switching her dentists.
The poor care has led to her since having six of her back teeth removed, and facing prolonged remedial treatment to tackle gum disease and ensure permanent new implants can be fitted successfully, following bone graft and sinus lift procedures.
Ashleigh Dance, a specialist in handling dental claims at Hudgell Solicitors, represented Mrs Feder in a legal case against dentist Robert Riley, who she saw at Stirchley Dental Practice in Telford, Shropshire.
She said it was a case of a patient suffering because of a dentist ‘rushing patients in and out and not being thorough at check-ups’, as she called for tighter regulations of the profession.
Patient alerted when told she may lose teeth by a different dentist
Mrs Feder had first complained of pain and recurring abscesses in 2012, but despite numerous visits to see Mr Riley, she says her problems worsened.
When Mr Riley was absent for one check-up, she was told by another dentist that she may need three teeth removing, causing her to question her care and start doing her own research, leading to her worrying that she may have a major infection.
Having then sought further opinion from a nearby private practice in July 2015, she was informed of the full extent of her dental problems.
“They told me I had gum disease that was eating away at my jaw bone,” she said.
“I was disgusted by what had been allowed to happen to my teeth. I had been a patient at the practice since 2004 and had what I thought was a good rapport with my dentist.”
Legal claim alleged string of failures in care and treatment of gum disease
As part of the legal case against Mr Riley it was alleged he had failed to diagnose, treat or monitor Mrs Feder’s gum disease, or refer her for specialist advice.
He also faced allegations of failing to exercise reasonable skill and care in root canal treatment, crown replacement, tooth restoration, the diagnosis or treatment of tooth decay or cavities, and failed to diagnose, monitor and provide the appropriate treatment for gum disease.
This included failing to diagnose bone loss, failing to inform Mrs Feder of the extent of her problems, and failing to explain to her how gum disease could cause tooth loss if left untreated.
Although no formal admissions were made, Mr Riley’s indemnity providers agreed to a £35,000 damages settlement.
Mrs Feder, who lives in Telford, says she remains angry over the pain she suffered, believing she had been in good hands.
She said: “I remember that I kept getting abscesses when I was pregnant and he just kept giving me antibiotics rather than actual treatment. It never got any better. Once my son had been born, I’d had enough and I was in tears. The abscesses crippled me.
“I stayed with the practice for another week to see Mr Riley after seeing the other dentist at the practice in his absence. I felt so deflated. I asked why I had bone loss and all he said was some people have it and some don’t.
“He sent me away, and I still didn’t have a follow-up call. It was then that I googled it and read that I must have an infection, so that’s when I went to the private dentist for the second opinion. I got an appointment the following week and I was in tears.
“The really annoying and upsetting thing is that I have been told there was a simple fix to the problems and that it was all completely preventable. You trust these people when they tell you things and you come away believing what they say.”
Mrs Feder now remains under the care of the private practice which informed her of the extent of the treatment she required, having had treatment to prevent further bone loss. She is now awaiting implants having had six back teeth removed.
She said years of dental problems had a huge impact on her life and confidence.
“I had years of going backwards and forwards to the dentist and I believe the infection started back in about 2009,” she said.
“I had so much going on with my teeth and I would have gone private if I’d known sooner. I missed so much of my son growing up because I was in agony.
“The whole thing has had a massive impact on my confidence and had an impact on every aspect of my life. I don’t feel able to smile any more as when I smile fully you can see the gaps at the sides of my mouth.
Compensation has helped cover the cost of dental repairs
Mrs Feder added: “A lot of the compensation I have received is going on the continued dental repair work I need to have, such as root canals, implants and bridges. My new dentist has been my second home and it’s still ongoing, but I’m hoping this will be a better year.”
Mrs Dance, a specialist in handling cases of dental negligence at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This is a classic case of someone who has seen the same dentist for a number of years, had quick check-ups and that’s it.
“It has taken for her to go elsewhere to discover the true extent of the problem and she could still lose more teeth.
“It’s awful, she is still only young and certainly should not have faced these sorts of problems at her age. She has lost a lot of teeth already and needs invasive and further treatment in the future. If it had been picked up in the first place, she would still have all of those teeth.
“I don’t believe there is enough regulation in the dental industry. Dentists need to be more thorough and not rush patients in and out.”
Mrs Feder said she was delighted with the support and guidance from Ashleigh and Hudgell Solicitors.
“She was amazing, so sympathetic and understanding,” she said.
“She listened to me when I was down and was really caring. I can’t speak highly enough of Hudgell Solicitors and the help they gave me. The compensation has been crucial in paying for the work I have needed.”