Should I get legal recourse for dental treatments I am unhappy with?
Q. Dear Dr Caplan, About 18 months ago I had two lower molars filled with Cerec inlays. One has been absolutely fine, but the other snapped in half after 7 months. My dentist replaced this with a second inlay, which snapped after 5 months. I suspected at that time that it indicated a problem with the inlay treatment, but rather than removing the inlay altogether and arranging a crown or onlay, my dentist chose to leave the greater portion of the inlay in situ and build a layered filling in the remaining cavity, free of charge. Shortly after this, I began to experience acute pain when the tooth came into contact with liquids, even of room temperature. I reported this to my dentist on an ongoing basis over 18 months, but he was unable to locate any obvious cause, even under x-ray, and attributed the pain to general sensitivity stemming from gum recession. I queried the integrity of the restorations repeatedly, and even other members of his practice hinted that if I was having such problems the restorations needed examination, but my dentist was unwilling to consider this option. In September, the tooth became extremely painful and infected and I was told I needed root canal treatment. The specialist I was referred to thought it better to try to clean and save the tooth, but that treatment appears to have been ineffective. Having paid £350 for the initial inlay, and a further £275 for the specialist’s “investigations”, I’m now facing root canal treatment at £600 and the cost of the subsequent crown. I’m really unhappy with the situation because I believe that with different treatment at an earlier stage, the death of the nerve could have been avoided. My dentist knows that I’m not convinced that this tooth has been treated correctly, but is suggesting that teeth can just die….. Should the dentist’s opinion always outweigh the patient’s opinion? How can I approach my dentist to secure treatment on a basis which we both consider fair? Should I simply change my dentist and have the work completed elsewhere? And finally, should I consider legal recourse to reclaim these costs if I can’t reach a compromise with my current dentist? It’s so difficult to challenge members of the medical profession, I really need some advice.,
A. Teeth that require restoration can have issues following treatment despite the best efforts of the dentist. In medicine in general there are no perfect treatments and there is always a chance of failure. If the dentist follows standard protocols the death of a nerve is an unfortunate possibility – one of the teeth has been fine despite the same procedure carried out. It sounds as though your dentist has been treating you well but unfortunately , despite their best efforts, your tooth has died. Dentistry can be very frustrating and costly when things do not go to plan but I would not resort to a legal route as this will not solve any of your dental problems. If you have lost confidence in your dentist changing to another dentist would seem a good option