A Change In The Face of Dentistry

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13 October, 2018

Over the last 10 years there has been a huge change in cosmetic dentistry with a move away from the use of crowns or veneers, towards techniques to orthodontically align and whiten the front teeth.

There has been a large increase in the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment for cosmetic purposes. In turn this has led to an increase in the number of claims. The demand for an "LA smile" has grown, as it has become more accessible and more affordable. This may be achieved by crowns, veneers, braces, teeth whitening and gum procedures, or a combination of these.

Occasionally things don't always go as planned. Here we will look at the different options and the risks associated with treatments and what you can potentially claim for.

Why choose one treatment over another?

This depends on individual preference, and your clinician should explore this with you. The less invasive techniques cause less potential damage to the natural teeth. Fixed braces can be painful, cause damage to tooth enamel, and can reveal discolouration when removed. It is sometimes difficult to eat and they can cause painful mouth ulcers.

Crowns are favoured by older patients for broken teeth. Veneers provide a quicker solution than orthodontic treatment. Both are more invasive and tend to cause more damage to natural teeth.

Ultimately, it depends on; what you are trying to achieve, previous treatment, age, suitability and timeframe for achieving your desired result. A stepped approach may be best.

What should I expect from my clinician?

A case plan, which demonstrates the end result. It should detail the treatment process, cost, timeframe, lifespan of the proposed work, risks and probabilities of them occurring and knowledge of the options.

This is an essential part of the 'consent' process. It is likely that the patient will sign a consent form, or where the procedure is complex a more detailed case specific letter.

What should I look for when choosing my clinician?

Experience, qualification, recommendation, competency and a willingness to refer to orthodontic specialist when required. They should know their limits, manage expectations and refer accordingly.

What are some of the risks associated with procedures?


Fracture of the tooth and repeat de-bonding of veneers causing discomfort

Staining around the veneer over time or cracked veneers reducing the cosmetic appearance.

The application of veneers is a delicate process and substandard work can lead to sensitivity, decay and extraction


Badly fitted crowns may cause significant damage to underlying teeth which can lead to decay and infection
Teeth whitening

Using chemical treatments or lasers to whiten teeth can weaken enamel and lead to decay

Gum procedures

Where the gum is drawn back too far when attempting to make the teeth appear straighter.

What sort of things do you look for on assessing whether there is a claim?

  • Substandard (negligent) treatment
  • Dental misdiagnosis, such as failure to recognise an underlying condition
  • Were all the options given, including the least destructive?
  • Opportunity to see the expected cosmetic outcome?
  • Was the patient adequately informed of all the risks?
  • Were all the necessary compromises to the ideal outcome explained?
  • Satisfactory case planning recorded in the notes with pre-operative photographs and x-rays.

What can be claimed for?

This depends on what can be proved. It could include a claim for the pain and suffering associated with the procedure. This might also include a mental element. There might be a claim for the cost of corrective treatment and any losses that flow, such as time off work.

If you have suffered due to dental negligence we can help you assess whether you have a claim and advise you on the best course of action regarding obtaining compensation. We handle everything on a no win, no fee basis and will do everything we can to help you get your smile back. Please contact Leonie Millard by email Leonie Millard or call 01254 872111.

Learn more about our Clinical Negligence department here

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