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Mrs Walker was 43 years old when she woke up with severe toothache. It was a Saturday and her usual dental surgery was closed, so she arranged an emergency appointment at a well-known dental surgery chain in the West Midlands.
At the appointment, she was given the option of either root canal treatment or extracting a molar tooth. Mrs Walker had a history of difficult tooth extractions and was very anxious. However, she was given the impression that it would be easier to have the tooth pulled out and that this would eliminate the pain.
She therefore agreed to have the tooth extracted. After some difficulty, the tooth was removed. However, adequate dental x-rays had not been taken and Mrs Walker had not been warned of the risks of extracting the tooth.
When she got home, Mrs Walker rinsed her mouth with water and was shocked to find the water escaping through her nose. She subsequently found out that this was due to an oroantral communication (OAC), which is an abnormal communication between the maxillary sinus and oral cavity. If left untreated an OAC can lead to the more serious oroantral fistula as well as chronic sinusitis.
Mrs Walker contacted the dental surgery and was given an appointment to see the same dentist a few days later. The dentist attempted to surgically repair the OAC with stitches to prevent water escaping through her nose. Unfortunately the repair was unsuccessful and she was eventually referred to hospital.
At hospital Mrs Walker had to undergo two separate oral surgical procedures, both of which were unsuccessful due to the earlier failures of the dentist in attempting to close the OAC too soon and causing a larger defect.
As a result she continued to suffer from her symptoms and became increasingly anxious about seeing a dentist.
Mrs Walker sought legal advice and instructed Sumit Morjaria, a specialist solicitor in medical negligence law, at Shoosmiths to pursue a claim against the dentist for the failures in both causing and treating the oroantral communication.
Supportive evidence was obtained from medical experts in dentistry, oral and maxillary-facial surgery and psychiatry.
The case was settled out of Court for a substantial sum, which included the private hospital costs of oral surgery and dental treatment to close the persistent oroantral communication.
Note: Our client name has been changed for anonymity purposes.