Can I make a claim for a wrong tooth removal by a dentist to recover the cost of a dental bridge?
The extraction of a healthy tooth by a dentist would be considered a case of medical negligence if it were to be proven. In addition to having the wrong tooth removed, it is likely that you will have to undergo a further procedure to have the intended tooth removed – resulting in further pain.
The extraction of a healthy tooth is a mistake that should never occur. Before a dentist advises a patient to have a tooth extracted, there must be sufficient evidence to suggest this is the best course of treatment. That decision can only be made after x-rays of the affected tooth have been taken and examined.
From the x-ray it should be perfectly clear which tooth needs to be extracted and it is difficult to imagine a scenario where there are mitigating circumstances that would prevent a claim for a wrong tooth removal by a dentist from being possible. It is therefore highly unlikely that your dentist – or his or her insurance company – will be able to defend against a claim for a wrong tooth removal by a dentist
If your dentist accepts liability for the error, you may be offered bridgework free of charge. While this may appear to be a good alternative to making a claim against your dentist, there are a number of issues that should be considered before accepting such an offer. The major concern will be if you trust your dentist to perform further treatments after a serious mistake has already been made.
You should also bear in mind that a second tooth may need removal and a dental bridge is only one cost that will have to be covered due to the dentist’s mistake. Dental bridges typically last for 10-15 years, and it is not reasonable to expect you to have to pay for future dental treatment that may not have been necessary if a mistake had not been made.
If you successfully claim for a wrong tooth extraction, you should be able to recover the cost of a dental bridge and you will not be obliged to use the same dentist again. You should also be able to claim for the cost of replacing the bridge in the future, as well as being able to recoup any other costs and expenses incurred.
A wrong tooth taken out by a dentist should ideally be recorded in your dentist’s accident book, although if you did not do this at the time you should write a letter of complaint. You are advised to seek assistance from a solicitor for the calculation of a settlement, as the Injuries Board will not assess personal injury (*) claims involving alleged dentist or medical negligence.
If you receive an offer of settlement from your dentist’s insurance company, it should not be accepted until it has been assessed by a solicitor. Even if it appears favourable, offers of settlement are usually much lower than the full value of a claim, and it is usually advisable to reject the offer and to pursue a more reasonable settlement by negotiation.