Health commissioner faults dentist over $5000 dental treatment

By Martin Johnston

As well as the root-canal filling, the man had four crowns, tooth-whitening, adhesive restoration of several teeth and a veneer for a single-tooth denture. Photo / 123RF
As well as the root-canal filling, the man had four crowns, tooth-whitening, adhesive restoration of several teeth and a veneer for a single-tooth denture. Photo / 123RF

A man who was dissatisfied with tooth treatment that cost more than $5000, including a root filling later found by a specialist to be faulty, has had his complaint upheld.

As well as the root-canal filling, the man had four crowns, tooth-whitening, adhesive restoration of several teeth and a veneer for a single-tooth denture.

The man, "Mr A", was unhappy with the results, according to a report on the case made public today by a deputy health and disability commissioner, Meenal Duggal.

"Mr A said that the result of the bleaching was far from desired with noticeable mismatch of shades between crowns and the rest of [his] teeth. The denture looked very obviously stained," Duggal said.

"The composite - veneer - placed on Mr A's denture was described by Mr A as appearing bulky and unnatural. Dr B [the dentist] said that he used the best professional bleach available to bleach Mr A's teeth and, in his view, the results were acceptably good.

"In relation to the composite - veneer - on the denture, Dr B stated that this was a temporary situation until the implant was completed."

The dentist said he had warned the man that if he did the root canal, a replacement of existing dental work, it might not be as good as if it was done by a specialist. He tried to refer the man to a specialist, but that would have meant a delay and the man was in a hurry to have the treatment before an overseas trip.

The man disputed the dentist's evidence on this warning, but Duggal on balance preferred the dentist's evidence.

A specialist who saw the man 15 months after the root canal was replaced found problems with it. She removed it and found dead tissue "along with a necrotic smell".

But Duggal said she was unable to make a finding on whether the dentist's root canal re-treatment was inadequate because her dental adviser, Dr Susan Gorrie, had felt unable to comment on the matter.

Duggal listed failings of the dentist in not taking x-rays of all the teeth to be crowned, not using a "dam", a thin piece of rubber used to isolate the tooth being treated, when doing the root canal, and in writing too few notes on matters such as the treatment options discussed.

The deputy commissioner also made "adverse comment" on the dentist for several matters, including not performing a full-mouth x-ray; not obtaining better quality images; and not delaying crowning the front teeth until the implant was ready for restoration.

Duggal told him to write an apology to the patient and do further training.

- NZ Herald

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