Cosmetic Dentistry Expert tells BBC: We Must Open Eyes to Pitfalls of Perfect Smile
The public must be informed of the dangers of cosmetic dentistry, as more and more people risk their dental health for the perfect smile.
Five years ago, the Dental Law Partnership were dealing with 250 cosmetic claims per year, now that figure is more than 430.
That is the verdict from Behind the Smile, an advisory group launched to provide impartial advice on cosmetic dental treatments and the potential pitfalls.
Behind the Smile recently launched a new website, www.cosmeticdentaladvice.com, which provides potential cosmetic dental patients with all of the information they need to make an educated decision on whether or not to pursue treatment.
In an interview with Peter White, host of the BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs show You & Yours, a representative of Behind the Smile spoke about the growing number of dental negligence cases resulting from purely cosmetic dental work.
David Corless-Smith, a former dentist turned dental law solicitor, is Director of the Dental Law Partnership and a founding member of Behind the Smile. He told White that the dental community had a responsibility to the public to provide enough information before encouraging patients to agree to cosmetic dental work. But he also acknowledged that the public needed to open their eyes to the pitfalls of unnecessary treatment.
From teeth whitening to full dental implants, cosmetic dentistry has grown and grown in popularity but so have negligence cases. Five years ago, the Dental Law Partnership were dealing with 250 cosmetic claims per year, now that figure is more than 430.
Corless-Smith explained that cosmetic dentistry is booming business. He said: “Dentists are running out of diseased teeth to treat so they’re selling bright white smiles. Cosmetic Dentistry is not inexpensive and when it goes wrong it costs even more to put it right" White asked what emphasis is on the dentist to provide information before the client receives cosmetic dental work. Corless-Smith’s answer was succinct. Corless-Smith added, “Dentists have a professional duty to advise patients on the nature of the treatment that they’re recommending, and all other available treatment options that might satisfy the patient’s complaint. Unfortunately, dentists selling cosmetic dentistry are a little shy about explaining the limitation of these treatments.”
Of the range of treatments considered cosmetic dentistry, and UK dentists’ refusal to endorse less invasive treatments, he agreed that only certain procedures were regularly suggested. “There is a hierarchy of cosmetic dentistry and they have an ascending level of damage that they cause to the teeth. There are treatments which do not cause much damage [such as] bleaching, cosmetic bonding, but a lot of dentists simply recommend veneers and crowns which can be extremely damaging to the teeth.”
If the Behind the Smile group succeed in educating the public, there is a chance that less victims of dental negligence will come to the Dental Law Partnership. White asked the Dental Law Partnership director if the aim was to put himself out of business? The answer was no. “We act for dental patients where treatment has gone wrong and every single patient says ‘we wish we weren’t in this position’ so it is part of the remit of a claimant solicitor to try and minimise the number of accidents and mishaps in the dental surgery.” The message to the public is to ask a lot of questions before agreeing to the surgery and getting a potentially harmful treatment. “Go into it with your eyes open. Cosmetic dentistry is not necessary on clinical grounds. It’s only being done to improve the appearance of your teeth, so make sure you understand what can go wrong. It’s not a one-time, fit-and-forget treatment.”
For more information on cosmetic dentistry, the potential dangers and alternative treatments, visit www.cosmeticdentaladvice.com.
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