Unhappy with dentist's work - what to do?

Discussion in 'Consumer Issues and Rights' started by Ash, May 17, 2007.

  1. Ash

    Ash Frequent Poster

    I am fuming.

    Today as I private patient I went to a dentist (Irish) I hadn't been to before. The dentist came highly recommended.
    I went to have a simple filling and also cleaning and polishing. Both these went fine. That's all I was there for.
    While doing the initial exam of my teeth, the dentist noticed a crown was loose. The dentist pulled and pulled with their fingers until the crown came out.
    After all the other work was done, the dentist re-cememted the crown. When in place the tooth was set too high i.e. too near the other set of teeth. To counter this, the dentist smoothed the crown so that the teeth wouldn't bang each other in the bite.
    On the way out at the desk, while paying for the treatment, I was taken aback when I was charged for recementing the crown - even though the dentist had actually removed it without permission.
    At the time, I said nothing as I figured the crown would be out soon enough afterwards on its own and I would have had to have it replaced before much longer.
    But worst of all was when I got home and could look at my teeth again for the first time. As the freeze began to wear off, the new bite at the site of the crown feels uncomfortably high. There was no problem with the bite before hand.
    Also, to my horror, there's a huge area in the crown where the dentist smoothed it to correct the bite where all the white part is gone and it is showing the metal underneath! It now looks like a huge decaying hole in the tooth. The tooth is towards the side of my mouth but quite visible when I eat, speak or smile.
    Where do I stand on this? The dentist really shouldn't have removed the crown in the first place and then to botch up the job in resetting it.
    My bite is very awkward, my teeth now dont sit naturally together. The crown is unsightly and is probably useless now.

    I'm very unhappy about this - especially as the dentist was highly recommended by numerous acquaintances. I haven't contacted the practice yet as I'm so mad I don't trust myself not to fly off the handle.
    Surely it is folly to anger a dentist who has the power of pain at the end of their fingertips.
    Please, any constructive advice.
  2. ClubMan

    ClubMan Frequent Poster

    Go back and tell him that you are not happy.
  3. lightswitch

    lightswitch Guest

    Definitley go back and get him to fix it for you. He should not have removed it without your permission in the first place. If he damaged it then it should be up to him to fix it for you. Good Luck. LS
  4. Megan

    Megan Frequent Poster

    You should go back and tell him that you are not happy with the job that he did on your teeth. My sister's dentist crowned a tooth for her even though six months earlier when he filled the same tooth he told her it wouldnt be suitable for a crown. The crown fell off two days after it was crowned. He wanted to cement it back but she refused and had the tooth taken and a bridge fitted instead which she refused to pay for as she had allready paid for a crown. So don't be afraid to go back and complain because dentist just like doctors do make mistakes and when they do - they should be made to correct them if it is possible to do so.
  5. Ash

    Ash Frequent Poster

    I appreciate the sympathetic comments above. Thank you both.

    I returned to the surgery today. I told the receptionist I had some problems about the treatment the previous day and needed to see the dentist. It turns out the dentist shares the practice with a colleague and was not on duty today. The next suitable time to go back is next Wednesday.

    What should I do in the meantime?

    I didn't think it served any point to tell the receptionist any more. Or to try to be seen by the other dentist? Was I wrong? Should I have stated my case anyway? To at least have it on record that I came back as soon as I could after the initial treatment?

    Would it serve any purpose to write a letter to the dentist which they would have before next week's appointment?
    Meanwhile, the uncovered metal on the crown looks like a big decaying cavity. It also has new sharp edges and I'm biting the inside of my mouth all the time.

    It is not going to be a pleasant few days. :(
  6. gnubbit

    gnubbit Frequent Poster

    Hi Ash,
    Sorry to hear about your bad experience. The Irish Dental Association gives advice on how to deal with complaints and suggests reporting the problem to the Irish Dental Council as a last resort.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Ash

    Ash Frequent Poster

    Went back and told the dentist I wasn't happy with the way the work turned out. The dentist was quite dismissive; didn't make any effort to rectify the situation - in fact they barely even looked at the problem.

    When pressed about particular aspects of the work, the reply I was given was: "No comment". I was invited to sue. And when I asked how much a new crown cost, I was told to mind my own business. I consider this the height of ignorance.

    I intend taking this further.
    Does anyone have direct experience of engaging a dentist in a dispute over work carried out? I would be very interested in hearing how things went and what I might expect.

    By the way, I would strongly recommend taking someone with you as a witness if anyone ever finds themselves in a similiar situation.
  8. ubiquitous

    ubiquitous Frequent Poster

    I can't help thinking that an alternative approach might have served you better in this case. Dentistry can by its very nature be something of an inexact science and you would not be the first person ever to have to return to a dentist for supplementary work following a procedure. From what you say, the dentist does not appear to have a superb approach to customer service, but in my view, he was well within his rights to plead "no comment" and refuse to do any further work for you (if only for his own professional protection) if you have threatened to sue him (note the word "if") as implied above.

    In general, although I'm not an expert on dentistry practice, I reckon that you will have an uphill battle trying to prove that he has been professionally negligent in the work he did for you, unless you have conclusive evidence that he failed to observe the duty of care he had towards you while working on your teeth. There is a big difference between making a mistake and being negligent.
  9. BlueSpud

    BlueSpud Frequent Poster

    Wonder if thats not a bit like the Medical Council and their response to Michael Neary, before they got blown out of the water. I dont know anything personally about them or their procedures, but these organisations are small & full of old boys clubs.

    If your dentist bahaved badly, dont feel shy about having a go at him. People tend not to question their health providers cos they feel vulnerable, testing the professional will lead to a better service overall.
  10. Ash

    Ash Frequent Poster

    Hi Ubiquitous.
    I did not threaten to sue. I never even brought it up. It was the dentist who mentioned it and invited such an action. The response of "no comment" was selectively used, not a blanket refusal to discuss.
    I did not go in with all guns blazing. Although upset, I was calm and reasonable and expressed my dissatisfaction firmly. There is no excuse for being told by any professional to "mind my own business"

    Hi BlueSpud,
    I would have the same concerns about the IDA & IDC as you've expressed. But apparently this is the complaints procedure in dental cases and that's the route that I must follow. I do appreciate your supportive views.

    None of this changes the plain and obvious fact that I now have a visible tooth which, to all appearances, looks to have a massive area of decay on the front and visible area of it. I am very conscious of it.
    Am I to explain to every customer, shop assistant, bus driver, bar tender and casual acquaintance that I meet that, despite appearances, my front tooth does not have obvious and neglected decay but in fact is the result of work by a dentist?
    Perhaps I should - word of "mouth" can be a powerful thing.
  11. BlueSpud

    BlueSpud Frequent Poster

    Why dont you follow the IDA / IDC route and see where it leads. Who knows, there may be a stack of other complaints against that dentist.
  12. ubiquitous

    ubiquitous Frequent Poster

    Hi Ash

    Thanks for clarifying your story. This dentist's approach seems bizarre. I think you should contact the dentist's practice again & try to speak to someone else there apart from the guy who treated you recently. Ask for a consultation with his colleague/partner on the basis that you're extremely dissatisfied with the previous work and don't have much confidence in the first guy's willingness or ability to resolve the problem. When you finally meet the second dentist, tell them what has gone on previously. I would reckon they will jump at the opportunity to correct your problem and re-do your teeth as required, as an alternative to having a formal complaint filed against their practice. I would be surprised if you were asked to pay for this second consultation. If asked, I would be unwilling to pay, if I were in your position.
  13. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

    Can you go back to the dentist that put the crown in the first time? He/She might not be happy that someone else screwed up their work. At the very least you should ask them for your records and point out that you don't want anyone thinking that they had done this to your teeth. They may be willing to help you with your complaint and might have a photo of the original job. You will probably need another dentist on your side no matter what happens.
  14. Ash

    Ash Frequent Poster

    Thank you all for your comments. Useful advice I will take on board.

    I contacted the Dental Council by email 36 hours ago but they have not replied yet.

    On the Dental Council website I found this. http://www.dentalcouncil.ie/g_dentalethics.php
    With my recent experience in mind, it made for interesting reading. :rolleyes: