If a dental negligence injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward

Dental negligence can lead to pain, suffering, emotional distress, and the need for expensive corrective treatment. A compensation claim can go some way towards compensating you as well as addressing botched procedures, delayed diagnosis, or improper use of dental tools.

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by dental negligence, we can help.

If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a dentist, orthodontist, dental nurse or other dental medical professional, you may be entitled to No Win, No Fee compensation for remedial dental work, associated trauma, and any impact on the quality of your life.

With around 2,000 ombudsman complaints against dentists last year, you are not alone

Dental negligence is broad in scope, covering issues like improper diagnosis, inadequate treatment, surgical errors, and failure to diagnose, manage or treat complications appropriately.

Estimating the prevalence of dental negligence is difficult, as many incidents may go unreported or are resolved outside of formal legal processes. Complaints made to the Ombudsman offer some insight into the extent of dental negligence.

The number of complaints to the Ombudsman about dentists increased by 66% from 1,193 in 2017/18 to 1,982 in 2022/23 (ombudsman.org.uk).

If you need information on dental treatments, visit: dental treatments (nhs.uk).

Am I eligible to make a dental negligence claim?

As a basic rule, you can make an injury claim if you were injured:

  • within the last 3 years, and;
  • your dentist, orthodontist, or healthcare provider failed in their duty of care.

How much compensation can I claim for a dental negligence?

The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:

  • the severity of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.

Dental negligence compensation calculator

Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.

Updated July 2024 Compensation Calculator v3.04

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College (judiciary.uk) and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?

Special damages

Special damages are awarded to compensate you for any costs or losses you've incurred or might incur as a result of your accident. These costs might include loss of earnings, including lost overtime, holiday pay, benefits and pension contributions, or any other out of pocket expenses.

Special damages may also be awarded for medical treatments or procedures that you might need to treat your dental injury, including corrective treatment, pain medication and psychological support.

Read more:

A complete list of recoverable losses in a personal injury claim

Duty of care

All healthcare providers, including dentists, owe a legal duty of care to their patients.

Dental negligence occurs when there has been a breach of this duty of care on the part of a dentist, orthodontist, or other dental healthcare professional.

A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.

If the breach of duty causes an injury (physical or psychological), or worsens a pre-existing condition, it may be possible to claim financial compensation.

Dental negligence claims and orthodontist negligence claims generally fall into 3 main categories:

Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis

Misdiagnosis and delays in referral can lead to serious complications, such as tooth infection or the progression of oral cancer.

If a dentist fails to correctly diagnose a condition it may lead to the wrong treatment being administered, or no treatment at all. The dental condition may worsen, causing further oral damage. The inappropriate treatment may, itself, cause unnecessary injury and pain.

If undiagnosed gum disease such as gingivitis is not treated, for example, it may develop into a dental abscess. loose teeth or periodontal disease.

There are several types of periodontal disease; all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated correctly, the teeth may eventually fall out.

Regular x-rays to identify problem areas and regular hygienist appointments should help your dentist monitor gum disease, although patients would be responsible for their own daily cleaning routine.

If you have been attending regular dental appointments with a dentist who failed to identify or properly treat the early stages of periodontal disease, and your health has worsened as a result, you may be able to make a claim.

For symptom and treatment information, visit:

Gum disease (nhs.uk)

Poor or inadequate dental technique

Dental procedures to improve or restore damaged teeth include bridges, crowns, veneers and implants, as well as tooth-coloured fillings.

Performed correctly, dental treatments will last many years, but if a dentist does not use the correct techniques, the dental work might deteriorate.

Before treatment, you should be fully assessed by your dentist to examine the extent of any problems, and to establish suitability for any procedure. You should be advised of any risks as well as the benefits.

When restorative dental procedures fail, it can be traumatic and painful. Where procedures must be repeated there may be financial and emotional cost to the patient.

You can claim for these losses and additional treatment costs as part of a dental negligence claim.

Careless treatment

A dentist may be careless and remove a healthy tooth by mistake, or damage teeth adjacent to the one being extracted. It is also not uncommon for too many teeth to be extracted.

In some cases, teeth are only partially extracted leaving some of the root sections within the jaw, leading to later complications.

Where a dentist fails to remove the whole root, or to fill the canal properly after removal in root canal treatment, a patient may be left with persistent toothache or more seriously, severe jaw infections.

A failure to consider less severe or invasive procedures could also be considered negligent.

Typical injuries caused by dental negligence

As dental technology advances, the number of dental treatments and procedures continues to increase.

The following is a breakdown of some of the more common injuries leading to a negligence claim:

Gum disease

Failure to diagnose gum disease leading to:

  • loose teeth
  • dental abscesses
  • periodontal disease
  • receding gums

Root canals

  • failure to properly clean the root canal leading to infection and pain
  • incorrect or defective materials used in the procedure
  • nerve damage to the surrounding teeth and jaw

Dental extractions

  • wrong tooth extraction
  • failure to identify and recommend less severe treatments
  • failure to obtain consent for an extraction
  • damage to adjacent teeth

Dental bridges and crowns

  • damage or decay to adjacent teeth
  • fitting a bridge to weak teeth that don't offer enough support
  • poorly fitted bridge leading to the bridge loosening or falling out

Dental crowns

  • damage or decay to adjacent teeth
  • fitting a crown to a poorly supportive post
  • using the wrong cement
  • cosmetically poor crown
  • poorly fitted bridge leading to the bridge loosening or falling out

Dental implants

  • post-operative infection
  • damage to tissue and jawbone structure
  • failure to identify weak jaw structure incapable of retaining an implant
  • incorrectly positioned implants leading to sinus or nerve damage

Dental veneers

  • cosmetically poor veneers
  • damage to tooth enamel causing sensitive and painful teeth
  • decay caused by poorly fitted veneer

How do I claim for dental negligence?

While dentists owe a duty of care to their patients, not all instances of unsuccessful dental treatment or pain automatically qualify for a claim. To prove that there was dental negligence, your solicitor must show that the treatment directly caused the pain or injury.

Your solicitor will start by asking you what happened, and they will collect evidence to support your negligence claim. An independent medical exam will seek to establish that the dentist or orthodontist's negligence was the cause of your injuries.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle most negligence claims out of court.

Fewer than 2% of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.

Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.

Is the claim procedure the same for NHS and private dentists?

Yes, NHS and private dentists are held to the same professional standards. However, the claim process may differ.

When claiming against an NHS dentist, your solicitor will deal with NHS Resolution, arm’s-length body of the Department of Health and Social Care that handles compensation claims on behalf of the NHS.

When claiming against a private practice dentist, the solicitor will deal with the dentist's professional indemnity insurance provider.

No win, no fee dental negligence compensation claims

With no win, no fee, you can claim dental negligence compensation without financial risk. If your claim isn't successful, you pay nothing. If you win, you only pay a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation.

Find out more about how no win, no fee claims work

Get expert advice now

Interested in talking to a medical negligence specialist about your claim?

  • Calls are FREE
  • Confidential consultation
  • No obligation to claim

Call 0800 376 1001

Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9:30am-5pm

or arrange a callback
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Author:
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher