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Making a Complaint Against a Dentist

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 27 Mar 2015 | comments*Discuss
Complaint Complain Dentist Dental

While most dentists in the UK are well trained and provide an excellent service, there may still be occasions where a dentist doesn't provide the standard of care that you expect and deserve. In these instances, you may want to consider making a complaint against your dentist.

But, how do you go about making the complaint? It will depend, in part, on whether you are under a private dentist or an NHS dentist. Also, the nature of the complaint itself will be relevant to what route you take when you lodge a complaint.

NHS Dentistry and Complaints

If you have a complaint and you want to take a relatively formal route, you should usually make the complaint within approximately six months of the event. Typically, the first part will be a localised resolution where you complain directly to the dentist who treated you.

The idea is to raise concerns directly with the source, which is generally preferable to bringing in a third party if it can be resolved directly with the dentist. This can save a lot of time and stress if it's resolved at the local level rather than going to the next stage. If you're not happy with how your complaint is handled, you can then contact the Healthcare Commission to obtain an independent review of your issue.

If you still remain unhappy with how the Healthcare Commission handles your complaint, you then have the option to contact the Health Service Ombudsman. As mentioned though, it's ideal to try to resolve the issue with your dentist locally first.

Private Dentistry and Complaints

If you want to complain about an incident relating to a private dental practice, then you should ideally still try to resolve the issue with the source – the dentist or staff where it occurred.

However, if that isn't satisfactory, you can complain to the General Dental Council (GDC), which is a regulatory body that governs dentists in Britain. Through the dental complaints route, you can formally complain about a dentist in private practice.

A resolution might involve an apology from the dentist and practice, refund of costs you paid or some sort of additional service or payment to remedy the situation. The aim is to resolve the complaint as transparently and efficiently as possible.

More Complaints Happening in Britain

There are more complaints than ever against dentists in Britain, which is thought to be related, in part, to the rising dentist fees. The most common complaints are poorly done treatment, fraud or excessive fees. Other complaints relate to badly done root canals or broken crowns and bridges. In fact, there are twice as many claims on British dentists as there are on British doctors.

The Best Standards of Care

If you feel you haven't received the best standards of care from your dentist, then it's important to take action, first with the dental practice itself and then formally if this isn't satisfactory.

The only way that a dental practice can improve its service is through honest feedback and if they are not performing to the best standard, it's important for members of the public to complain appropriately. In turn, we can all benefit from better standards of dental care.

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@Fingal - We could not comment as to whether your dentist's actions were right or wrong. As specified in the article, if you feel unhappy with the way you have been treated, then you should in the first instance raise concerns directly with the dental practice and take it from there.
SafeDentistry - 27-Mar-15 @ 10:49 AM
Hi I was wondering if a dentist mid way through treatment of root canal can then cancel my appointment as he will not be available on that day, to be given another appointment by a different dentist whom I've never had treatment from to perform further root canal treatment. This is the second time they have cancelled my appointment for no apparent reason. The reason I am receiving root treatment is because the dentist in question drilled into this tooth as stated it was decayed although I had no pain what so ever. Once treatment had finished he proceeded to inform me that there was no removal of decay as to close to the nerves. I then proceeded to develop gum, bone and tooth infection and was off work for the week in horrendous pain. Surely this is classed as substandard care and ethically wrong to swap dentists. This is not conducive to best practice and not within their standard of care guideline.
Fingal - 27-Mar-15 @ 1:40 AM
I..Had to have a tooth removed when I had the substantive a said I could still feel some pain but the dentist still carried on pull the tooth said it was in my head when I started screaming in pain she got her nurse to hold me in the chair the dentist refuse to stop. I thought the medical methods had stoped what should I do the dentist that do it owns the partist
amm - 25-Sep-14 @ 8:22 PM
I live in Derby. My dentist charged me £650 for his service which includes clean and polish and 2 white filling. he never made it clear how much are the total charges.
raj - 31-Mar-14 @ 10:12 AM
Hi in 2005 I had a bridge done on the NHS shortly after that I felt next thoot to the bridge cracked so I said I can leave with it same year I had to relocate with my husband abroad but I was always having trundle with it as lost bits from it and started having food stuck in it and last year I went to the same dentist she said I have to change everything but it will be expensive but she can fixe it for short time so I did it lasted one year and now I had to have it fixe again only this time it last only one week . And now every time I go I have to pay for it . Do you think it's fair? Please advise me what to do ? Thank you .
Zahra - 7-Oct-13 @ 12:05 PM
I've just taken my son to the dentist and it was just meant to be a normal 6 month check up but he had a loose milk tooth and it was causing him pain so the dentist told him he could help him take it out or let it come out on its own with my son being in pain he said he wanted it out so the dentist number it and told my son it wouldn't cause him pain just some pulling so he agreed yeah ok so it came to pulling out the loose tooth he pulled out the tooth next to the wobbly one and told me that the tooth was fused with the larger one when the dentist pulled it out he was in a lot of pain and was crying out until he finally pulled it out in sorry but it doesn't seem right to me please could anyone put my mind at rest thanks.
vicci - 9-Sep-13 @ 3:35 PM
8. THURSDAY MORNING, AGAIN THEY HAD EXPLAINED THAT I WAS GOING TO HAVE THAT TOOTH PULLED WITH A LIVE INFECTION (WITH NO MEDICATIONS BEFORE HAND) AND NOW REMOVING THAT TOOTH THUS CAUSING BLEEDING AND THE RISK OF SPREADING THAT INFECTION... 9. TODAY, 25TH OF JUNE 2013, I HAD TO SEE MY GP AS THE PAIN CONTINUED AND ACTUALLY SPREAD FROM NOW AN OPEN SPACE TO THE OTHER TEETH.. I HAVE EXPLAINED MY SITUATION TO MY GP SO HE COULD UNDERSTAND AND PROVDE ME WITH THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION.. MY GP ADVISED ME THAT FIRSTLY THAT DENTIST - TO THE ORAL DEPARTMENT SHOULD HAVE PROVIDED MEDICATIONS TO COMBAT THE INFECTION(S) I HAD DURING THAT TIME FRAME TO PREVENT FURTHER PROBLEMS.. THE GP CONTINUED, REMOVING AN INFECTED TOOTH IS NOT THE BEST PRACTICE IN FIGHTING ORAL INFECTIONS ESPECIALY BEFORE SUCH TEETH EXTRACTIONS ARE TO BE CARRIED OUT (AS I HAD MR. MOSS'S TEAM DO IN MY MOUTH) WITH NO BEFORE MEDS AND ABSOLUTELY NO AFTER TREATMENT MEDS TO COMBAT TGIS OR ALL INFECTIONS IN MY MOUTH... 10. YES, I DO HAVE THAT INFECTION STILL IN MY MOUTH AND YES IT HAS BECOME WORSE OFF AS I HAVE NOT HAD ANY MEDICATIONS OFFERED - NOR DID I KNOW I HAD AN EFFECTION IN THE FIRST PLACE, THE ONLY THING THAT THE DENTIST AND THE TEAM AT THE ORAL DEPARTMENT STATE IS THAT I HAVE A REMARKABLE ORAL HYGENE... Now, with this new information and the current state, and the deep pains I am under at this time. I strongly demand this email be added to my list of complaints on this subject.. Moreover, I request that a full investigation be conducted in order to find out what had happened, why this gross form of medicalmalpractice has taken place, and why NO PREVENTITIVES were in place before and after treatment which involves dental infections and extractions.. Yes, I have forward this email onto the CQC as a matter of importance as I want answers to why I was treated in such a disgusting manner, especially after I requested a 2nd opinion in order to get the best treatment.. Clearly, I was right, as the treatment I did get overall was extremely poor and those involved are not worth having as a member of the NHS Trust... There is enough problems within the NHS Services to have these so-called professional members of staff amongst the NHS Pay-roll and overseen to continue to treat their trusting patients in this horrific manner.... Regards - and still in pain.. Lord Kenneth T. Montgomery-Moore 07746681037 of Peterborough, Cambs UK
Lord Kenneth - 26-Jun-13 @ 11:52 AM
I would like to submit this complaint on the grounds of the following, regarding to my treatment of medical care by 1A Dentist and the Oral Maxillofacial Department at Peterborough City Hospital - from the 16th of May 2013 to the current date 26th of June 2013.. (I welcome you to call me on 07746681037 at your earliest convenience)... I have gained more information regarding my "then condition" and "What SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE DURING THAT TIME.. 1. I had made an appointment on the 16th of May 2013 to see my Dentist at 1A Dentist, Millfield regarding the sheer pains I have been dealing with shortly after my Nasal Operation.. 2. 1A Dentist stated "only 12 days after my first visit - they had sent a referral to the Oral Maxillofacial Department at PCH - When I called The Oral Maxillofacial Department - they informed me that they have NOT RECIEVED a referral from 1A Dentist - to call them back and request them to send a copy back to the Oral department, of which I did straight away as I was in serious pains by this time and the problem was getting much worse due to the collapse of my lower FULL BRIDGE.. 3. Finally and only AFTER I RAISED A FORMAL COMPLAINT, I was granted an appointment to see one of Mr. Moss's team members.. Only to be pushed back with nonsense and No reassurance to the care, treatment and result... I was actually left in a place to shutup and put up with what they WANTED TO DO instead of resolving the problem FULL STOP.. 4. Some 2 weeks had past before I received a letter from the Oral Maxillofacial Department offering me an appointment as late as September 2013... I explained to the consultant that I was in serious pains and needed treatment - however, with the treatment he offered at that time was no good enough nor "A matter of being professional and responsible, I asked for a second opinion ASAP - the consultant then stated that I would have to seek this 2nd opinion from a Dental Collage (where, I have no idea) but I needed treatment NOW as the pains were beyond reasonable.. 5. I received a call from the Oral Department offering me the option to have the first initial treatment to be done on Thursday the20th of June 2013 - by which time I threw myself at their mercy as I was doing everything to calm the pains - to the point of drowning the pains with Clove Oil... 6. I had my pre-op meeting at 3pm at PCH Oral Department on the Wednesday the 19th of June 2013.. By which time they told me that I had an infection in the bottom tooth they were taking out, hints why I needed to have a full anaesthetics... 7. NOW, IF THEY KNEW I HAD TGIS INFECTION FROM THE FIRST TIME I HAD MY X-RAYS DONE AT THE ORAL CLINIC AND TOLD TO WAIT UNTIL SEPTEMBER FOR THEM TO DO ANY TREATMENT - WITHOUT ANY ANTIBIOTICS OFFERED TO COMBAT THE INCREASING PAINS, RISK OF SPREADING, AND USING THAT TIME OF FINDING THAT INFECTION TO THE TIME I WAS CALLED IN TO HAVE IT FINALLY REMOVED - I DID NOT GET ANY ANTIBIOTICS AT ALL... 8. THURSDAY
Lord Kenneth - 26-Jun-13 @ 11:42 AM
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