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What is dental negligence?

Dental negligence occurs when a healthcare professional has failed to provide adequate care for you. This can include any instances involving incorrect, delayed or poor treatment that has led to further injury or suffering. Unfortunately, dental negligence can affect not only your physical health, but also your financial and mental wellbeing.

In the last year, there have been nearly 16,000 cases of clinical negligence registered with the Compensation Recovery Unit alone. If you're wondering what is classed as dental negligence or dental malpractice in the UK, take a look at some of our examples below. You may be able to make a compensation claim if you experienced any of the following:

  • Delayed diagnosis: it's important for your dentist to identify problems as quickly as possible. If they haven't, this can delay treatment and make the problem worse.
  • Incorrect or careless treatment: for example, if the wrong tooth was removed or the use of excessive force caused injury.
  • Misdiagnosis: if your dental problem is misdiagnosed, this can lead to unnecessary treatment and more complications.
  • Poor standard of treatment: if your dentist or orthodontist has carried out the treatment poorly, causing further injury.

If your experience isn't listed above, then don't worry - our legally-trained advisors will talk through your individual circumstances with you and see if we can help. Call us confidentially on  to find out.

What is considered malpractice for a dentist?

Even though your dentist often carries out most of your dental work, injuries or accidents can happen when being treated by orthodontists, hygienists, dental nurses and dental therapists - or anyone else who gives you dental treatment or advice. We can help in any of these cases.

If you're wondering what is considered malpractice for a dentist, we've outlined some typical examples below.

Negligent root canal treatment

Root canal treatment is very common and is usually carried out to treat tooth decay, a leaky filling, or an infection caused by damaged teeth.

In the vast majority of cases, the procedure goes off without any problems at all. But dental negligence can cause complications such as fractured teeth, dental instrument residue and failing to remove all the infected bacteria before attaching the crown. If your dental practitioner provided a poor standard of treatment leading to any of these complications, you may be able to make a dental claim.

Oral cancer misdiagnosis

According to the NHS, oral cancer (otherwise known as mouth cancer) is the sixth most common cancer in the world. It presents symptoms including mouth ulcers, lumps in the mouth or neck, loose teeth, numbness and red or white patches. The condition must be caught and treated quickly to avoid further complications. If you visited your dental practitioner with these symptoms and they failed to diagnose you or delayed your treatment, you may be entitled to make a dental claim.

Incorrect fitting of a crown or bridges

Crowns cover a damaged tooth to provide extra strength and protection. Bridges are tooth-shaped structures that fill gaps where teeth are missing. If these aren't fitted properly, they can cause discomfort or not last as long as they should. If your crown or bridge was inserted incorrectly and you have suffered as a result, you should contact us about making a dental claim.

Mistakes during oral surgery

When you have oral surgery, all the risks should be clearly explained to you beforehand so that you can decide whether you'd like to go ahead with the treatment.

If you were injured during surgery and were not warned about the risk, you may be able to make a compensation claim. You may also be able to claim if your dentist made a mistake during your oral surgery.

Why make a dental negligence claim?

When you seek dental advice or treatment, the professional treating you is in a position of trust. If they betray that trust and your symptoms are made worse through inaction or by mistake, then you may have grounds for a dental negligence claim.

Dental negligence causes pain. And it can leave you unable to carry on with your everyday life - in some cases, your injuries may even be life-changing. All dental professionals have a legal ‘duty of care' to keep you safe. This is their obligation to you - to make sure they take reasonable care to avoid causing you harm.

Making a dental negligence claim can seem daunting, but we've seen how much of a difference claiming compensation can make to people's lives. It can give you the financial support you need during your recovery and help get you the simple apology you deserve.

Has your mental health been impacted by dental negligence?

Medical negligence not only impacts you physically - it can have a huge effect on your mental health too. Our Make It Right campaign did a recent study of 1,000 people and found that 72% suffered from a mental health issue as a direct result of their injury. The most common were anxiety and stress - with over half saying they were worried about the financial implications of their injury.

Exposing the real impact of injuries on #mentalhealth

Exposing the real impact of injuries on #mentalhealth | National Accident Helpline #MakeItRight

Exposing the real impact of injuries on #mentalhealth

To get a better understanding of the real impact accidental injuries have on mental health, we spoke to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Claire Freeman. 

When we see people directly after an accident, often there's a physical injury - and where there's injury there's usually pain. Pain is very highly associated with low mood and depression that can show itself quite differently between different people. They don't need to suffer this extra burden in silence - advice and help are available.

Dr Claire Freeman

Clinical Psychologist

If your mental health has taken a dip due to your injury, we're here to offer you the support you need. Get in touch with our friendly team today on  and we'll talk through your situation.

Dental Negligence Claims FAQs

How do I make a dental negligence claim?

We know that you may be going through a difficult time, which is why we aim to make your first step towards compensation simple. Whether you're ready to start a claim or just need advice about what to do next, get in touch with us on  for free.

When you call us, we'll talk through your situation and the treatment you received, so our team can get a better idea of what happened. This will allow us to establish if we think you have grounds for a claim. If you do, there is absolutely no pressure to go ahead - we're here to offer advice and support.

However if you do decide you want to make a dental claim, our friendly advisors will introduce you to a specialist dental medical negligence solicitor. They will also chat to you for free about your situation, letting you know how the process will work and what you should expect. Your solicitor will then get in touch with the other party's legal team to get the process started.

How much compensation could I receive?

The amount of compensation you receive through your dental negligence pay-out depends on the severity and complexity of your individual case - so there is no specific amount you can expect. When putting together your dental negligence claim, your solicitor will make sure they understand the effects your injury has had on you and those around you. This is so they can make sure you get all the compensation you need and to which you're entitled.

How much compensation will I receive for my personal injury claim?

How much compensation will I receive for my personal injury claim? | National Accident Helpline

How much compensation will I receive for my personal injury claim?

The pain and complications caused by dental negligence may have caused you to take time off work with reduced pay. You may have been unable to pay bills as a result, especially if you've had to pay for dental treatment to put your injuries right. Your dental solicitor will take this into account when working on your case.

Your dental solicitor will also consider the wider effects your injury has had on your family. For example, the compensation could cover their travel and accommodation costs and the time they've given to provide you with care.

We know that spending time at home recovering can also be lonely and depressing, and it can feel like you'll never get your independence back. Compensation can't take your injury away, but it can help you take the first steps to getting things back to how they were before - or as close as possible. Give us a call on today to see if you could receive compensation.

Try our dental negligence claim calculator

If for any reason you're not ready to give us a call just yet, you could first look at using our dental negligence claim calculator below. Our dental negligence calculator can give you an approximate indication of what to expect in terms of your dental negligence pay-out.

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Can I claim against an NHS dentist?

Yes, you can claim against an NHS dentist for NHS dental negligence. In fact, any medical professional - NHS or private - can be held accountable for dental malpractice. If they are found to have breached their duty of care to you that resulted in harm or the aggravation of a pre-existing condition, then you have grounds for a dental negligence claim.

Making a claim against an NHS dentist works slightly differently to private dentists. This is because all dental claims against the NHS are handled by a specialist insurance company called NHS Resolution. They were set up by the government to resolve all disputes and have a pot of money separate from the NHS budget to do so.

Can I make a claim against a private dental practice?

If you've received negligent treatment from a private dental practice, then of course you can make a claim. As stated by The General Medical Council, all private healthcare providers must take out their own liability insurance to cover any claims made against them.

During your case, your solicitor will liaise with your dentist's insurer to obtain the compensation you are entitled to. Due to the nature of private dental claims, they can take a little longer to resolve, but your solicitor will be able to give you more information on how long your case will take to settle.

Will I need to have a medical assessment if I make a dental claim?

Yes. Independent medical opinion is a key part of making dental negligence claims. The medical negligence solicitor we select for you will arrange the assessment as part of building the evidence for your claim.

How long do dental negligence claims take?

All dental negligence claims are different so it's hard to give a reliable average duration for the claim. It depends on two things:

  • The severity and/or complexity of the negligence injury.
  • Whether or not the dental professional admitted liability.

The timescale of your case may also depend on whether your claim is going through NHS Resolution or a private healthcare provider's insurer. Dental negligence solicitors will usually advise that it could range from a matter of months to a couple of years. Come and talk to us on  and we can help.

Can I make a dental claim for someone else?

If a loved one has suffered due to dental malpractice, we understand that you want to help them make it right. While we can't take away the pain they may be experiencing, we can help them to get both compensation and an apology for what they've gone through.

If you're calling on behalf of someone else, it's helpful if we can speak to the injured person to confirm you have their consent to seek compensation for them. Having said that, we understand that in certain circumstances this is not possible. For example, if the person is unable to speak or understand that you're claiming for them, you may be able to make a claim on their behalf.

You can also make a dental claim for your child if they have suffered negligent treatment and are under the age of 18. Receiving compensation may offer the financial help they need to aid their recovery and support themselves in the future.

Are there time limits for making dental negligence claims?

Generally speaking, the time limit for making dental negligence claims is three years from the moment you realised that you may have been treated negligently. There are some exceptions - for example:

  • If you're making a claim for a child, there's no time limit up to their 18th birthday. After they turn 18 years old, they have three years as a legal adult until their 21st birthday to make the claim.
  • There's no upper time limit if you're claiming for someone who, for whatever reason, lacks the mental ability to make a dental negligence claim. As stated in the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that they lack capacity. If you're unsure, please don't hesitate to give us a call and we can help.

Our dental lawyers have an official admin procedure to follow when registering your dental claim, so if you're very close to your three-year dental negligence time limit deadline, it's important to act fast. If you have 12 weeks or less until your expiry deadline, give us a call on while we still have time to help.

Can I make a dental negligence claim using no win no fee?

Yes, we can usually offer no win no fee arrangements in our dental negligence cases. When you first speak to your dedicated no win no fee dental solicitor, you will agree this over the phone.

What is “No win no fee”?

What is "No win no fee"?

What is “No win no fee”?

No win no fee is a great way to submit dental claims without worrying about potential financial risks. This is because there are no upfront costs, no hidden charges and if you lose your case, you pay nothing to your solicitor.

If your case is successful, the legal fees are paid to your dental malpractice lawyer from the compensation you receive. This is usually a fixed percentage of your award - this is agreed when your claim begins.

In a small amount of cases, our dental negligence solicitors may not be able to handle your claim on a no win no fee basis, but this will be discussed with you before you proceed.

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