Sharon Dexter, a 51-year-old bookkeeper from Walton, Peterborough, has been awarded Â£12,500 in compensation from her two local dentists after their failure to appropriately treat a damaged tooth and identify decay on others led to Ms Dexter suffering from years of pain and numerous episodes of infection.
She is now likely to lose a tooth in the near future and will need to require ongoing corrective treatment for the rest of her life.
Between 1989 and 2015, Ms Dexter was a patient of Dr Michael Duddington and Dr Dipesh Shah of 1A Dental Surgery in Peterborough and had been attending the practice since she was a teenager.
“I’ve been going to 1A Dental since I was about 17,” Ms Dexter recalled. “Over the years that I was a patient there I never had any concerns about any of my dentists. Both Dr Duddington and Dr Shah were professional and caring. I always thought I was in safe hands.”
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Ms Dexter’s problems date back to 1989 when Dr Duddington performed root canal treatment at one of her front teeth where the nerve had died, causing the tooth to turn black. Over the years, Ms Dexter returned to the dentist on numerous occasions to have the crown replaced.
“I felt very self-conscious,” Ms Dexter said. “Even to this day, I’m nervous about eating hard foods like apples in case it falls out again.”
In 2003, Ms Dexter returned to Dr Duddington for a repeat root canal treatment on the tooth. Dr Duddington performed the same treatment on another tooth just a few years later.
“Apart from feeling conscious about my crown, I was not alarmed by the root canal treatment at all,” Ms Dexter explained. “When you get treated by a dentist, you expect them to know exactly what they’re doing.”
Ms Dexter then began seeing Dr Shah at 1A Dental Surgery in November 2011 and attended regular check-ups for over three years. It was not until June 2015 when Ms Dexter returned to the dentist for an emergency appointment after her crown had, once again, fallen out.
“I couldn’t believe it had happened again,” Ms Dexter commented. “I explained to the practice staff that it was an emergency but I still could not get an appointment for five days. I was so frustrated.”
Unfortunately for Ms Dexter, despite Dr Shah eventually refitting the crown, she attended A&E just three days later with severe swelling around her mouth.
“I was getting really worried,” Ms Dexter recalled. “I had a huge abscess in my mouth and it was so painful and uncomfortable. I had to go to A&E because I just couldn’t risk waiting days for an appointment at the dentist.”
After being prescribed antibiotics, Ms Dexter left A&E only to end up back with Dr Shah just one day later as the abscess had burst. Dr Shah informed Ms Dexter that the best option would be to remove the tooth.
“The whole experience was just exhausting,” Ms Dexter said. “It seemed like Dr Shah simply didn’t care about what I had gone through. The abscess was so painful that I had to take a week off work. I don’t get sick leave either, so I lost a week’s worth of pay.”
Fed-up with the dental treatment she had been receiving; Ms Dexter began seeing a new dentist and contacted the Dental Law Partnership. Analysis of her dental records revealed that infection and decay at numerous teeth had gone untreated by Dr Dunnington and Dr Shah for years, some for almost a decade. This has resulted in Ms Dexter having treatment for teeth she did not even know were damaged.
“I knew my front tooth was not in a good way but I had absolutely no idea that anything else was wrong,” Ms Dexter explained. “I now have to have crown replacements done for the rest of my life, all because my dentists could not do their job properly.”
Robert Pettitt of the Dental Law Partnership commented: “What our client went through was completely unnecessary. If the dentists had undertaken the appropriate treatment in the first place all the suffering she experienced could have been avoided. We hope the compensation she receives goes some way towards paying for any additional treatment required.”
The Dental Law Partnership took on Ms Dexter’s case in 2015. The case was successfully settled in January 2018 when the dentists paid Â£12,500 in an out of court settlement. Neither dentist admitted liability.