Hudgell Solicitors has secured £55,000 damages for an ‘exemplary’ dental patient who never missed an appointment in over 30 years but was forced to have 15 teeth removed as abscesses in her gums rotted the bone away.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, attended 50 routine appointments with her dentist spanning three decades and in that time she was facing the widespread loss of teeth due to bone loss and poor dental care.
As part of a legal case against her dentist through Hudgell Solicitors, it was alleged that between 1982 and 2014, despite carrying out root-fillings, extractions and crowns, dentist Dr Ashley Lupin, of Chatham, Kent, failed to provide the expected level of care.
Part of the allegations were that he kept re-cementing loose fillings and prescribed antibiotics for infections without investigating the cause of recurrent infections.
The patient, 64, from Kent, has since been forced to undergo widespread and expensive restorative treatment costing more than £8,000, having to take out a bank loan to pay for it.
She has now settled a medical negligence claim against Dr Lupin after turning for legal support through Hudgell Solicitors.
The patient said: “I used to go every six months. I didn’t think there was a problem and I wasn’t led to believe there was anything wrong.
“I developed a lump under my nose and the dentist said it was a boil and just kept giving me antibiotics. Sometimes I could pop it myself and other times it would be very hard. This went on for years.
“Also, a crown on my front tooth kept coming loose and he just kept re-cementing it. Then in May 2014 it fell out so I rang him up but he said he was too busy to see me, so I booked in with a dentist whose surgery was near my house.”
New dentist alerted patient to major problems with teeth
The patient visited the alternative practice on May 5, 2014, after making an urgent appointment for the missing crown.
During that appointment she was informed that several of her teeth were beyond being saved, and she was referred to an implant clinic where further x-rays were taken.
She added: “They said to me at the clinic that there was a lot going on in my mouth, and the detailed x-ray results came back showing I had a serious problem. The dentist told me I had an abscess under the front crown which had eaten the bone away.
“I was told my gums needed to be cut open and that I was going to need implants on six top teeth and four or five lower teeth.
“I was really upset, I had kept telling him about the top crowns and he just kept giving me antibiotics. I had no idea it was an abscess. Why didn’t he x-ray it or look at it in more detail? This had gone on for years and that’s why it had eaten the bone away.
“It was really gratifying when they eventually pulled the abscess out, it came out whole. And there was a big hole left. It could have been very dangerous, I could have got blood poisoning from it.”
By this time she had already lost six teeth, and she had to endure the loss of another nine due to the severity of her gum disease, making 15 lost teeth in total. She has since had costly new implants fitted in her top gums.
She was horrified to discover that she had been having sub-standard care for more than 30 years.
She said: “Mr Lupin either carried out very poor treatment, or he didn’t do any treatment at all, and I feel very let down. You put your trust in your dentist and you don’t question them.
“It has affected my life, in particular what I eat. I have false teeth in my lower jaw until I have the new implants and it’s difficult with eating. My top implants are wonderful and I can’t wait to get the bottom set done now that the settlement has been reached and I can finally afford it.”
The supermarket shift worker added: “It has been a traumatic time as I have had to have my gums cut open and bone put in, I have been put to sleep on three separate occasions to have the bone and implants fitted.
“It has also affected my work, as I have had to do eight consecutive night shifts, in order to get six days off for my dental surgery each time, to give myself enough time to recover. To anyone who feels that they might be getting second rate treatment, I would say get a second opinion.
“I just wish he had done his job properly as I had put my trust in him. Now that the money has come through I have already booked to see my dentist for a consultation on getting the lower implants, and I can’t wait, it will be a New Year present to myself.”
Legal case highlighted ‘shocking’ dental negligence
Hudgell Solicitors brought a claim on the patient’s behalf against Dr Lupin of medical negligence and they settled the claim.
Solicitor Sue Jackson said: “This was a shocking case of neglectful treatment of a patient who had diligently attended at her dentist for appointments over three decades.
“This patient has been badly let down by the dentist as she was clearly committed to doing all she could to ensure her dental care was in hand. At no time, over 30 years, was she given any indication of any serious problems, so to then discover that she was losing 15 teeth was devastating. She was not even given any advice on prevention with diet and good brushing, as would have been vital to restore and maintain her oral health’.
“The circumstances of this case makes it one of the worst I have seen. Our client had to take out a bank loan to pay for the cost of replacing her upper teeth, and she couldn’t afford to have the bottom teeth done until the settlement had been paid.
“Oral health is as important as physical health, and the two are related. It affects you psychologically as people don’t want to smile, or go out, and it affects what food you can eat. It has a big impact on your quality of life.”