Dentist to pay $58K for not removing patient's baby teeth

By Melissa Busch, DrBicuspid.com assistant editor

December 3, 2019 -- A dentist in the U.K. has agreed to pay 45,000 pounds (approximately $58,000 U.S.) for an out-of-court settlement with a former patient for failing to recognize that she never grew several adult teeth, according to news reports.

Dr. Richard Fox did not admit legal responsibility but did agree to pay the sum to Rhiannon Cooper. The 24-year-old claimed that Dr. Fox, her long-term childhood dentist, failed to recognize that she never lost several baby teeth and never indicated that the lack of adult teeth could pose a problem for her in the future.

Cooper was a patient of Dr. Fox, who operated Fox Dental Practice in Corsham until his retirement, between June 2000 and November 2012. Though she never lost several baby teeth during this period, she says Dr. Fox never indicated that the baby teeth were a problem or that they needed to be corrected until November 2012. She was 17.

Dr. Fox referred her to orthodontic specialists, telling her that he was concerned about her lack of adult teeth and that her adult teeth were crooked.

The orthodontists were shocked by the state of her teeth and told her that she should have been referred to specialists sooner, according to Cooper. The orthodontists said two of her front teeth lost their roots and needed to be removed, and she needed braces.

In June 2013, Cooper ended up having three baby teeth and two adult teeth extracted. After the procedure, she underwent orthodontic treatment to move her adult teeth into the places where her baby teeth had been located. In 2014, she was given a prosthetic tooth and a retainer. Also, she was told that she would need to pay privately for this complex dental work.

Cooper was told the best outcome would require her having her four remaining upper teeth removed and replaced with implants. She was told it would cost her 10,000 pounds (approximately $13,000 U.S.) to correct her smile, prompting her to seek damages from Dr. Fox.

Her legal team determined that Dr. Fox failed to recognize the absence of Cooper's adult teeth at a more appropriate age and didn't refer her to an orthodontist in a timely fashion. Furthermore, her lawyers said that Dr. Fox failed to use "affordable talent and care" when treating Cooper's teeth throughout her childhood, according to reports.

Cooper said the entire situation has left her self-conscious and embarrassed. Her lawyers claim that she likely would have avoided these complex procedures and her other troubles if Dr. Fox had treated her properly in the first place.


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