I have no idea what happened


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I'm in the UK and have always had a brilliant NHS dentist. A car accident decades ago required me to have my two front teeth pin crowned - no problems, no issues - regular check ups, two fillings and an occasional lecture.

A week ago I bit into something unexpectantly hard and one of the crowns fell out. I went to my NHS dentist but, as I was not in pain, I would have to wait three weeks for an appointment - three weeks with a yawning gap in my front teeth !!! ... so I went to a private dentist

First thing I was greeted with was a bill for £70, for making the appointment it seems, I hadn't even seen a dentist at this time. they sat me down in the plush waiting room and had me filling in a medical questionnaire - I had started to declare my type 1 diabetes, my heart attack and my warfarin treatment but was ushered in to a dentist chair and the incomplete questionnaire lifted out of my hands

The dentist told me I needed an X-ray (£20), so I had one. She then said she needed to redo the X-ray so I had another one (another £20) which was exactly the same as the first. She explained an infection may have pushed the crown out, I explained I had bitten into something hard. Undeterred she said that the X-rays didn't show any infection but it could be hidden, so she needed to do a root canal treatment requiring four return visits before the crown could be reattached - total cost £1,000

I looked at the X-rays, I could see the original root canal 'post' in place; the X-ray (to my untrained eye) seemed no different to the attached crown right beside it, I couldn't see any infection or anything else. She ignored this and told me that she would have to drill out the original root canal but there was a risk she would destroy the remaining tooth root, then requiring an implant at £3000

I told her I could not afford this and could she simply not glue the crown back on, I could then go to my NHS dentist for any follow up treatment. This only paused her "You're registered with another dentist ?", before she told me I required at least three visits to the private hygienist, a complete check up, two further X rays all with her private practise - only £400

She was probing around in mouth constantly, while doing what I realised was a sales pitch. I recall her paying particular attention to one of my lower teeth, I thought she had found a problem

Eventually she simply glued the crown back on, charged me a further £300 for this and gave me a recommended treatment plan. My mouth was constantly bleeding, I told her I was taking warfarin, her reaction was "Oh" but nothing else. She offered me a private prescription for antibiotics, I asked her if there was an infection and she quickly said "its precautionary" - in hindsight I should have asked her what the proposed root canal was for if infection-control was 'precautionary'

I paid and fled, the 40 minute ordeal had cost me £410

I went to my NHS dentist who confirmed that the crown had been reattached really well, he said he would have done it between patients at a maximum of £62.10 if I had known I was in the waiting room … I mentioned the requirement of a root canal, his reply was "Why?", I mentioned the requirement of three visits to a hygienist, his reply was "that's always wise, but why three?" … X-rays "Why?"

Two days later I started to suffer quite bad pain from one of my lower teeth, the one the private dentist had shown so much interest in. Scared her suspicions of a problem were correct, and in pain, I got an appointment with my NHS dentist (£22.70) - after a cursory glance, he asked if I had done anything to rock the tooth in its socket - I replied that I had not, but well aware that the private dentist definitely had - he said to give it a few days to settle down and sure enough, two days later, the pain that would have had me scurrying off to the private dentist had gone away

I can understand the sales pitch, I really can, but it appears that she was willing to destroy a perfectly good crown to justify an implant and to sabotage a tooth to force a return visit …. anyone got any opinions, similar experience ?
 
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MattKW

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Sounds like you got a bit of a poor deal, sorry to hear that. There are good and bad people in all walks of life and at all levels. There are probably quite a few bad NHS dentists too, but it sounds like you have a good one that you're very happy with, so take it as a learning experience and have a stiff drink!
 
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Paul I am sorry you had such a bad experience with an unscrupulous dentist. You should make a formal complaint to the private surgery and it's worth paying your NHS dentist for a written report so that you can get some of the money you paid back from the other surgery. You should complain to the general dental council if you make no progress. I hope you feel much better and that you will take the advice of having regular hygiene appointments.
 
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Thank you both. Things have progressed ...

I had three unsolicited phone calls, one from the surgery, two from the dentist herself ... key phrases were "that temporary repair, it might last a week, maybe a year, I really need to get back to it", "You will have to cut up all your food really small and put it directly to your back teeth to be able to eat" and "You will have to eat soft food only until I have completed my treatment"

I said that another dentist had told me that the reattachment of the crown was very good, un-phased she simply replied that it was just a temporary measure - she could not reply when I said that I thought all crowns were surely simply glued on

A little on the offensive I said I was considering a formal complaint to the surgery, that got me a curt laugh and a "see where that will get you"; I gather she is the owner of the surgery. I said that I had taken advice of offering a type 1 diabetic a tooth implant; she said it made little difference

I phoned the General Dental Council this morning and filed my complaint, my NHS dentist said he would happily provide any report I needed (free !)
 
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MattKW

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  1. You can ask that they no longer contact you. This is going beyond "duty of care" follow-up, and is straying into unsolicited marketing for which there must be some laws in the UK if they persist. Perhaps a Consumer Advise body could assist you.
  2. If you ask for copies of the records, then it might show thta the health questionnaire was incomplete or ignored.
  3. Implants are fine in Type 1 diabetic patients as long as you have good control.
 

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