A Northamptonshire woman has won £10,000 from her dentists in an out-of-court settlement with the help of specialist dental negligence solicitors.
Christine Heap, from Northampton, contacted the Dental Law Partnership after her dentists' consistent failure to spot and treat decay which left her in pain and requiring extensive corrective treatment.
She will also lose a tooth at some point in the future.
Between 2011 and 2015, 54-year-old Mrs Heap visited Dr Sylvia Bentley and Dr Andrew McSweeney of Long Buckby Dental in Daventry District.
"I'd been a patient there for a few years and thought everything was fine," explained Mrs Heap.
But problems started to become apparent in 2014 when Mrs Heap saw Dr McSweeney because one of her teeth had broken.
At this point, the tooth was repaired by way of a new filling which later required replacement.
Mrs Heap said: “It was rather concerning. I didn’t understand why a filling I’d only just had already needed to be replaced. I started to wonder whether I also had decay at my other teeth and asked Dr McSweeney if I should see the hygienist.
"But he said it wasn’t necessary. In 2015, I also saw Dr Bentley, who I’d seen on numerous occasions before, for a check-up. She told me my teeth were in good health as well."
But remaining concerned about the treatment she was receiving at Long Buckby Dental, Mrs Heap saw a new dentist. He was shocked to discover extensive decay at three of Mrs Heap’s teeth, including underneath a crowned tooth, said the Dental Law Partnership. The new dentist also said Dr McSweeney had not done Mrs Heap’s filling properly.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Mrs Heap recalls. “Both Dr Bentley and Dr McSweeney had led me to believe my teeth were in good health. And by this point my teeth had started to become painful and sensitive.
"To hear the filling wasn’t even fitted properly was very frustrating. It was a complete waste of time and money.”
Mrs Heap contacted the Dental Law Partnership whose analysis of her dental records revealed that both dentists had failed to spot decay when she first attended the practice - although the dental practice itself could not confirm this due to patient confidentiality.
But the dentist did not notice it until 2014. One of Mrs Heap’s teeth was so badly decayed it was beyond saving and will be extracted. A crown also needs to be fitted.
“To think that this is all down to the dentists’ lack of treatment makes me so angry,” said Mrs Heap.
“I trusted them, but they just let the decay get worse and worse. I’m going to lose my tooth because of them, and will spend yet more time at the dentist having the damage they have caused fixed.”
Tyla Westhead of the Dental Law Partnership said: “What our client went through is completely unnecessary. If the dentists had undertaken the proper treatment in the first place her dental problems could have been avoided.
"We hope the compensation she receives goes some way towards paying for the corrective treatment required.”
The Dental Law Partnership took on Mrs Heap’s case in December 2015. The case was successfully settled in April 2017 when the dentists paid £10,000 in an out-of-court settlement. The dentists did not admit liability.
Dr McSweeney and Dr Bentley said in a joint statement: “While we do not accept the accuracy of the facts conveyed by The Dental Law Partnership, we are limited in what we can say because of patient confidentiality.
“We always aim to provide the best possible care to all our patients.”