Gum disease is a periodontal condition caused by the buildup of plaque around the teeth.
It is a relatively common condition that originally manifests as inflammation of the gums or ‘gingervitis’. The inflammation is caused by plaque, a thin film of bacteria, which begins to produce toxins that irritate the teeth and gums.
When caught early, gum disease is relatively simple to treat. Reasonable dental care will see the removal of plaque and a return to healthy teeth and gums. However, if left untreated, the gingervitis can morph into full blow periodontitis, which will cause shrinkage of the gums, infection of the bone, loosening and eventual loss of the teeth.
Adequate dental care is critical for the prevention of gum disease and is a joint effort between a patient and their dentist. A patient must regularly brush their teeth, floss and go to checkups. A dentist is their to monitor teeth. If there are any signs of gum disease, such as bleeding or inflammation, a reasonable dentist should be able to diagnose gum disease and put in place an appropriate dental plan. This may include:
- Carrying out X-rays
Probing for inflammation and bleeding
Making adequate notes
Reviews every 12-18 months
Advice on home care
Referral to a specialist for more progressed cases
Failure to treat gum disease early is a clear breach of a dentist’s duty. There are often enough warning signs to indicate to a reasonably qualified dentist that gum disease is present. Failure to diagnose or treat the warning signs, especially if left over a number of years, can cause significant losses for patients in terms of pain, suffering and the cost of corrective treatment.
At the Specter Partnership Solicitors, we have seen an increasing number of medical negligence claims against dentists who have failed to treat gum disease.
For more information on the gum disease, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/Gum-disease
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