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Dentists putting profits before patients, an investigation by The Times

Press Release: October 19, 2016

The Times published two articles in 7 days at the start of August criticising the Dental Profession and its treatment of patients.

The first dealt with the issue of NHS Dentists putting profits before patients following an investigation by The Times, which found thousands of patients are losing teeth needlessly because it is more lucrative to take them out than to try to save them.

The report noted NHS dentists get paid the same for an extraction, which can be undertaken in one appointment, as for root canal treatment, which usually takes 3 times longer.

Bryony Steele, Medical Negligence Solicitor at NewLaw said, “I have seen this problem in practice and have several clients who were persuaded by their dentist to have teeth extracted rather than try root canal treatment.”

Depending on the damage to the tooth, root canal treatment has a success rate of up to 80% however several clients have been advised the success rate is more like 50%.

The result is that patients are losing natural teeth unnecessarily or prematurely. This often results in costly restorations.

On the subject of tooth restorations, the second investigation by The Times dealt with the rise in so called ‘cosmetic dentists’. It found there has been an 80% increase in claims relating to treatment of a purely cosmetic nature in the last 5 years.

Patients seeking a cosmetic improvement in the form of teeth whitening are persuaded to undergo extensive treatment to get the perfect Hollywood smile. Often the treatment plan is unrealistic in the desired time frame and there has been an increase in the number of corrective surgeries required to fix cosmetic dental treatment which has gone wrong.

The problem with this type of dentistry is the lack of regulation. There is no requirement to undergo specialist training for a Dentist to call themselves a ‘Cosmetic Dentist’ and the demand for a perfect smile has tempted many general dental practitioners into this lucrative field.

The article by The Times noted the General Dental Council had been accused of putting patients at risk by ignoring repeated reports of concerns about the same offenders.

Steele who specialises in dental negligence cases, discussed this subject with journalist Katie Gibbons of The Times. Bryony Steele commented, “The lack of accountability for dentists meant those with a history of harming patients could continue working without sanctions. Neither a complaint to the practice or clinical negligence claim result in any professional disciplinary action.”

If you have concerns about dental treatment you have received it is important to obtain legal advice from a qualified medical negligence solicitor.

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