According to the results of numerous surveys in recent years, the thing most people look at first when judging the appearance of others is their teeth.
Seven in 10 people said they looked for a nice smile in their ideal partner in one recent survey, while only 40 per cent said they looked for a good physique.
In the same survey, more than half of men said they notice a woman’s teeth first, and that a nice white smile was key to finding someone attractive.
Without doubt, a happy, healthy smile makes a world of difference, not only in how people are judged by others, but also how they feel in themselves.
So, with all this in mind, it is perhaps surprising that many people are so apathetic when it comes to selecting their dentist. The only criteria many people consider is the distance and convenience to travel to and from the surgery from where they live.
However, as experts in handling cases of sub-standard dentistry, our teams at Hudgell Solicitors strongly advise taking much greater care and interest in the dentist you choose, as if you don’t, you could pay a heavy price.
A look back over our work, over just the past 12 months, shows a clear need to be careful and considered.
Between October 2014 and October 2015, close to 60 cases relating to sub-standard dentistry care led to patients being compensated. In total, the money paid out was in excess of £540,000.
Cases have ranged from dentists simply failing to identify and treat gum disease (often despite patients having many regular check-ups) to poorly fitting crowns and painful abscesses caused by errors in treatment.
One dentist took out seven teeth without the patient’s consent, whilst another patient had to have 10 teeth taken out and dentures fitted because their dentist had failed to treat and manage gum disease over a period of years.
These may all read like horror stories, but they are real-life cases handled by our dental negligence specialists this year.
Of course, it is important to stress that there are many excellent, conscientious, talented and committed dentists who provide superb treatment to all of their patients.
However, there are also many whose standard of work is clearly falling below that expected, and due to lapse controls and regulations over the industry, there are extra risks to patients.
Although dentists have to register with the General Dental Council, lax rules make it is easy for many to operate without indemnity, meaning many patients will unknowingly be at risk of having to pay out thousands of pounds for repair work, or live with the consequences of any errors made.
For the majority of people we have represented, personally paying for the repair work would not have been an option, and they would certainly have been left feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable with their appearance.
Given the number of cases we have handled over the past 12 months – and that a large percentage of the £540,000 compensation secured has been to cover the cost of remedial work – it serves to underline the importance of knowing and trusting the dentist you choose.
Patients can use the General Dental Council website to check dentist registrations and actions taken against dentists following patient complaints.