How Do Dental Nerve Damage Claims Work?
By Cat Reeves. Last Updated 27th July 2023. Have you experienced nerve damage while having dental treatment? Was the injury you sustained caused by negligence on the part of the dentist? If so, you could be entitled to make a dental nerve damage claim.
You can do this by making a medical negligence claim. This guide will explain the circumstances that could entitle you to make a compensation claim. Throughout, we will also answer important questions like:
- What is classed as dental negligence?
- In what instances can I claim for damage to the inferior alveolar nerve (IAN)?
- What are the benefits of funding a lawyer with a No Win No Fee agreement?
Please read on for answers to these questions and more. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to speak to a member of our team, please use the details below.
Get In Touch With Our Team
Our advisors offer free legal advice 24/7 so, if you have any questions, such as wanting to know if you’re eligible to claim, please get in touch with us using the details below. You can:
- Call us using 020 3870 4868
- Contact us through our website using our “Claim Online” section
- Use our “Call back” feature to schedule a callback
- Please write to us by using our Live Chat feature
Services And Information
- Everything You Need To Know About Dental Nerve Damage
- What Is A Dental Nerve Damage Injury?
- What Duty Of Care Does Your Dentist Have?
- Did A Breach In This Duty Cause Your Injury?
- NHS Patients’ Rights
- Dental Nerve Damage Compensation Payouts
- Dental Nerve Damage Signs And Symptoms
- Causes Of Dental Nerve Damage Injuries
- Treating Dental Nerve Damage
- How Long After Dental Injuries Could You Claim?
- I Suffered Dental Nerve Damage, What Should I Do?
- Claim For A Dental Nerve Damage On A No Win No Fee Basis
- Dental Negligence Claim Resources
- FAQs About Your Dental Nerve Damage Claim
A damaged tooth nerve can be really painful and very difficult to live with. However, you will not be able to claim for every instance of nerve damage that occurs as the result of a dental procedure.
To make a successful dental nerve damage claim, you need to prove that the damage came from negligence. Therefore, the following three principles need to be accurate and provable in relation to your injury:
- The third-party needs to have had a duty of care towards you.
- Secondly, they need to have breached this duty of care.
- Lastly, the action that breached this needs to have caused your injury.
A dentist or dental worker has a duty of care to all patients. Their actions need to meet the required standards of their profession. If the care they provided fell below these standards, and you’ve been injured as a result, you may be able to claim compensation.
If you do begin claims proceedings, the dental worker’s actions will be assessed by a panel of their peers. This is called the Bolam Test.
They’ll confirm whether the level of care the dentist provided you was of an acceptable level. If they find that it wasn’t, this is an example of dental negligence.
If you’d like to speak to our experienced and knowledgeable team, please call us for free legal advice 24/7. You can do so using the contact information above.
There are a number of different nerves in the face that could be damaged. These are:
- The inferior alveolar nerve. This travels along the inside of the lower jaw
- The lingual nerve. This runs close to the inside of the jaw and gives half of the feeling to your tongue
- The buccal nerve. This runs close to the back teeth and gives sensation on the inside of the cheek
- The infra-orbital nerve. This runs along the upper jaw and gives sensation to the upper lip, part of the cheek and the nose.
If any of these nerves are damaged, it could give you a sensation of pins and needles in the affected area. In some cases, you might completely lose the sensation in this area.
Above is the estimated total number of selected adult courses of dental treatment performed through the NHS in 2019/20 compared to 2020/21. It’s important to note that a contributing factor to fewer procedures being performed in 2020/21 relates to COVID restrictions.
With that in mind, there were still 1,230 extractions within this timeframe and 183 root canal treatments performed. 156 procedures involved crowns being replaced. All of these treatments could lead to nerve damage as a result of dental negligence.
You might be wanting to know more information about a dentist or dental practitioner’s duty of care towards patients. The General Dental Council (GDC) is a UK-based statutory regulator for dental care. They’ve outlined that the dental practitioner’s duty of care needs to follow certain principles.
These principles are:
- Putting the patient’s safety first
- Communicating effectively with patients
- Obtaining valid consent
- Protecting and maintaining patients’ information
- Upholding an effective and implemented complaints procedure
- Working with colleagues for the needs of the patient
- Raising concerns if the patient is at risk
- Maintaining, working within and developing their knowledge and skills
- Making sure their behaviour maintains the professional standards required
The GDC states that you should be treated with these principles in mind every time you need professional dental work. This is regardless of whether you’re receiving a regular check-up or require surgery for a maxillofacial injury.
If you’re not sure whether or not the treatment you received constituted a breach of duty of care, don’t worry. We understand that this is a complex area of law, and we can help. What’s more, if you have a valid claim, we could connect you with a solicitor from our panel.
As previously stated, just because you have nerve damage due to a dental procedure doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to claim successfully. You need to be able to prove that the dental practitioner breached their duty of care.
It’s not necessary for you to go to great lengths to prove that you were owed a duty of care by a dentist. Purely by virtue of you being their patient, you are owed a duty of care.
Examples of procedures that could lead to nerve damage might include:
- Tooth extraction – You may need this procedure due to the removal of a wisdom tooth. While a damaged tooth nerve can be a common side effect of the procedure, it’s important that you’ve been made fully aware of all potential side effects. This is known as informed consent.
- Root canal surgery – This procedure is required when the root canal of your tooth has been damaged by a bacterial infection. The procedure would attempt to remove the bacteria; otherwise, the tooth could rot and die. While performing the procedure, the dentist’s hand could slip. This could cause damage to your inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) or, in rare instances, result in trigeminal neuralgia.
- Dental implant – Dental implants are an alternative to removable dentures. Titanium screws are drilled into the jaw bone, which could damage your nerves.
As described above, the Bolam Test will involve peers of the dental practitioner reviewing your treatment to see if the appropriate actions were taken and within the required duty of care.
If it’s found that your dentist’s negligence caused the injury that you sustained, you could be entitled to claim. Speak to our team today for more information.
Your rights, whether you’re having dental treatment through the NHS or via another healthcare provider such as BUPA, are outlined by The General Dental Council. They include things like knowing:
- Whether the NHS or another provider will perform the treatment.
- The likely cost of the procedure
- What the planned treatment involves. You could ask for a written plan if you’re still unsure how the procedure will be performed.
- Whether there are other treatment options available.
You should also check that you have all of the information required to make an informed decision. This is because not being fully informed of the nature of the procedure could be seen as negligence on behalf of medical professionals.
Speak to our advisors for answers to any queries about making a dental nerve damage claim that you might have. They offer free legal advice and can be contacted using the details at the top of this page.
In this section, we’ll discuss compensation when claiming against a dentist. Nerve damage can cause significant harm, and damage to your teeth can have a negative impact on your physical and mental well-being.
This harm is covered under general damages, the first of two heads of claim that could make up your final sum. General damages address both the physical and mental harm caused by the negligence you suffered, as well as the effect that this harm has on your day-to-day life.
When solicitors value this head of claim, they may use the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) for guidance. The JCG offers a list of guideline compensation brackets for different kinds of harm. Below, you can find some examples of these guidelines taken from the 16th edition of the JCG. Please note that these are included for illustrative purposes only.
|Area of Injury||Amount of Compensation||Description|
|Teeth||Up to £38,130||The injury in this bracket results in significant and chronic tooth pain (caused by, for instance, an untreated abscess), lasting for a number of years, causing significant general deterioration in the overall quality of the teeth.|
|Injuries in this bracket cause serious damage to or loss of several front teeth.|
|Injuries in this bracket result in loss of or serious damage to two front teeth.|
|The injury in this bracket causes serious damage to or loss of one front tooth.|
|This bracket is for injuries causing loss of or damage to back teeth. The compensation bracket is the amount you could receive per tooth.|
|The injury in this bracket is a simple jaw fracture which requires immobilisation where a complete recovery is made.|
Your dental negligence compensation may also include special damages. This head of claim addresses the financial damage caused by the harm you suffered. For example, you may need to have teeth extracted as a result of the nerve damage, and replaced with a crown or denture. The cost of the crown or denture and any other cosmetic work needed to restore your teeth to how they would have been before the negligence could be covered by special damages.
This head of claim could also cover the cost of:
- Further dental treatments to correct the harm done.
- Over-the-counter medications.
- Help with cooking or cleaning.
To learn about the evidence you may need to claim under this heading, or to start your dental nerve damage claim today, contact our team.
Common nerve damage symptoms in the mouth and jaw area include:
- Loss of sensation
- No control over saliva drooling
- Your jaw suffering from a burning sensation
- Pain in your cheek, forehead, eye or jaw
- Tingling sensation in the jaw/mouth
Rarer symptoms caused by procedures like having a wisdom tooth removed include a persistent and abnormal sensation in the inferior alveolar nerve or lingual nerves. You could also have trigeminal neuralgia due to dental negligence, which causes sudden, sharp and frequent pains in your jaw, teeth and gums.
Suffering from these symptoms due to dental negligence could result in you making a successful dental nerve damage claim. This could lead to you receiving thousands of pounds in compensation.
Other potential causes of dental nerve damage include:
- A dental procedure that is not performed correctly, such as a filling.
- Gum disease that leads to tooth loss. If you can show that your dentist spotted signs of gum disease but failed to inform you, this could be an example of negligence.
- Dental restorations, like the replacement of a crown. If not correctly performed, this can lead to trapped plaque, which can cause decay, bleeding gums and gum disease.
Call us 24/7 for free legal advice to see how you could prove negligence. Only through doing this can you show your duty of care was breached and therefore receive compensation.
In some cases, nerves can repair themselves after being damaged. The amount of time this takes to happen can vary.
In some patients, the sensation might return after a few days. In other circumstances, it can take up to a year or may even be permanent.
You might notice a tingling sensation as the nerve repairs. You may also feel it when you touch the area, but it might have less sensation than other, non-damaged parts of your skin.
Other potential treatments for nerve damage include:
- Nerve grafts
- Prescription drugs, like painkillers
- Nerve blocks to reduce pain.
For more information on how to make a dental nerve damage claim, speak with our team today. We can offer you free legal advice about making a claim.
The Limitation Act 1980 establishes the claims time limit. This is generally three years.
These three years either run from the date of the injury or the date you became aware that negligence led to your injury. There are, however, exceptions to this:
- If you suffer an injury as a child, you have three years from the date of your eighteenth birthday to claim for an injury. Someone else can claim on your behalf by becoming your litigation friend at any point until you turn 18.
- If an injury has happened to someone who doesn’t have the mental capacity to make a claim, a litigation friend can claim on behalf of them at any point. The three-year time limit is suspended for as long as they lack the mental capacity to claim.
To make a successful dental nerve damage claim, not only do you have to claim within the timeframes established above, but you also need to prove third party negligence. Speak with a member of our team today for more information on how you can do this.
You can prove third-party negligence by supplying evidence related to your injury. For example, medical reports can help a lawyer build your case.
Other pieces of evidence that could be relevant include:
- Keeping your own timeline of events, including the treatment that was provided
- A second opinion from a trusted medical professional
- Copies of scans, like X-rays.
- Things like payslips to show a loss of earnings
Using a specialist medical negligence lawyer could also help you. Certain lawyers or solicitors specialise in medical or dental negligence. Their expertise could help you get the compensation you deserve for the injuries or harm you have experienced.
You may be wondering, “what are the benefits of using a No Win No Fee solicitor to make a dental nerve damage claim?” They include:
- Not having to pay legal fees throughout the claims process or upfront
- Not having to pay legal fees if your claim is unsuccessful.
- Instead, your lawyer will take a small, legally capped percentage of your compensation as payment for this upon your claim being successful. This is called a success fee.
This means you can rest assured knowing that they won’t waste your time. They will only take your claim on a No Win No Fee basis if they think you have a reasonably good chance of success.
If you would like to be connected with a medical negligence solicitor from our panel, get in touch today. You could be offered representation on a No Win No Fee basis.
For more useful information, please use the links below.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) are an independent regulator of health and social care in England. Read this webpage to learn more about what you should expect from your dental practice.
To know more about dental trauma, view this NHS guidance.
If you’d like to know about the time limit to make a medical negligence claim in more detail, visit our relevant page.
You can learn more about dental negligence claims here.
Would you like to read a guide to medical negligence claims? If so, this guide could help.
Read this page if an operation has gone wrong and you want to see if you can claim.
For answers to frequently asked questions about making a dental nerve damage claim, view below.
Can you claim against NHS dentists?
If they’ve caused you an injury due to medical or dental negligence, you may be able to claim compensation.
Can you claim against private dentists?
Yes, as they still have a duty of care to you as their patient. If they have breached this duty and have injured you, you could receive compensation.
Should you make a complaint about negligent NHS dentistry?
If you’re unsure if you should make a dental nerve damage claim, you can call our advisors 24/7 for free legal advice.
How long after dental treatment can you sue?
Generally, you have three years to start a claim. There are some exceptions to this, however; speak to our team for more information.
How long does compensation take to come through?
The length of time it takes compensation to come through can vary depending on a number of factors, including how complex the claim is and whether liability is clear.
Thank you for reading our guide on making a dental nerve damage claim.
Written by XD
Checked by RO