In July 2012, our client, Lynnette, attended her dental practice with loose upper teeth and active periodontal disease (gum disease). She was aged 56 at the time. It was decided that Lynette would benefit from removal of her upper teeth and receive four implants with a supported bridge.
Lynnette had the implant surgery and was fitted with the temporary bridge in September 2012. From the beginning of 2013, she was experiencing tenderness and pain in her gums around the implants and periodically visited the defendant. She reported tenderness, pain and small lumps around the implants which would disperse when pressed. The defendant was not alarmed by this and reassured Lynnette that everything was alright.
In October 2013, Lynnette was fitted with a new upper implant supported by a temporary bridge, after which she said that the implants felt as though they were moving.
Five years later, radiographs were taken and bone loss around her implants was detected. She was referred to a specialist in periodontology and implant dentistry who noted total and severe bone loss. The dentist advised that all four implants had failed and recommended removal of the implants and re-implantation with an overdenture (removable dental prosthesis).
This took place in August 2019, and her upper bridge and implants were removed under local anaesthetic. The dentist documented “massive infection and granulation tissue”. Lynnette’s platelet levels were high and had been creeping up over the previous years. Following the procedure, her platelet levels reduced following removal of the implants, and she was fitted with dentures.
Lynnette instructed Fletchers Group to support her claim and Sophie McGarry, a litigation executive, dealt with her case. It was alleged that there had been inadequate investigation, treatment and management of pre-existing periodontal disease and negligent ill-fitting bridgework, as well as failures to adequately review after implant surgery. It is believed this caused peri-implant disease (an inflammatory condition affecting the gums), chronic infection and bone loss.
This led to avoidable removal of four implant fixtures, that if adequately managed, were likely to have lasted for the remainder of her lifetime.
As a result of the negligence, Lynnette experienced pain, suffering and loss of amenity and now requires extensive remedial treatment. This will result in further pain and suffering which could have been avoided. The treatment will also involve bone grafting and an implant-supported maxillary overdenture.
Following the implant removal, she was fitted with a maxillary denture. Following this she found it very difficult to eat and the upper denture was prone to falling out, causing extreme social embarrassment. As a result of this, she resorted to avoiding family and friends and lost her confidence. This meant that she was unable to pursue her intention to seek full-time work due to her anxiety of interviews. Lynnette developed social phobia, for which she requires treatment in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy.
After issue and service proceedings, the defendant admitted liability. As a result, Lynnette was awarded £57,000 because of her injuries and suffering. The money awarded in compensation will be used by Lynnette to access restorative dental work that she requires following the negligence, and which she was unable to afford prior to compensation being awarded. This means that she will soon have her smile back.
Medical negligence expert, Sophie McGarry, reflected on the case: “This case has been a particularly difficult one to deal with due to many obstacles along the way, but that has made the successful outcome all the more rewarding. It has been a pleasure to deal with this case, and I had the assistance of two great experts, Counsel and my supervising senior solicitor, Darren.
“Lynnette has been a first-class client and I am delighted that we have achieved such a brilliant outcome for her. The compensation will help her to get her implants done again and will give this lovely lady her smile back – she definitely deserves it! I wish Lynnette and her family the very best for the future.”
Lynnette added: “A previous legal experience leads me to explain how refreshing it was when Sophie handled my claim. When I first contacted Fletchers, I didn’t really hold out much hope. Like a lot of people, I thought it was just luck of the draw thing, I’d be just a number, going from case handler to case handler.
“When I first spoke to Sophie, I felt that she was completely behind me 100%. The patience she showed me during every stage was wonderful. I always felt in safe hands, Sophie is highly knowledgeable and competent. She seemed to really care and was so approachable.
“This compensation has been a God send. It has really changed our lives. Sophie is one awesome young lady.
“I contacted Fletchers feeling helpless! I’d had four dental implants on a full denture fitted, only to discover that all four implants had become infected, and likely had been infected for some time. They had to be removed! I was fitted with a temporary set of dentures ‘to just answer the front door, as the dentist said.
“I didn’t receive any help from the dentist. So, I contacted Fletchers, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I did. Sophie gave me hope and restored my faith in fairness. She took my hand and guided me through what was a legal maze to me, with kindness, support and a wealth of knowledge. I always felt in safe hands and Sophie was so supportive and approachable, especially through the tougher times. I had regular updates on exactly what was happening throughout the claim. Sophie won the claim on my behalf, and I can’t thank her enough. Fletchers are truly outstanding in my opinion. Thank you all so much. It’s a true account of an exceptional young lady, in my opinion.”