Resolving problems

This section looks at what happens if you are not happy with an aspect of your treatment and how to make a complaint. In most cases, any problems can be resolved by discussing them with your dentist but in some situation, a formal complaint is the only option.

The main issue is often that of what to do if your dental treatment has not worked or has worsened the problem.

To start with, try to resolve the issue with the dentist. This is a good option and in many cases, solves the problem without it going any further. If it is a situation where an element of your treatment has failed such as a loose filling then he/she will be able to repair this.

Another option is to find another dentist to carry out this repair work. This is an option if you have lost confidence in your own dentist or if you feel that the relationship between the two of you has broken down.

The way the problem is dealt with depends upon whether you have an NHS or private dentist.

Problem with an NHS dentist

The first step is to try and resolve the problem by discussing it with your dentist. If you are still not satisfied then contact the General Dental Council for advice or the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

According to the General Dental Council there should be an in-house dental complaints procedure which is available to every patient. This should be displayed or accessible in some way at dental surgeries in the UK.

Only approach the Ombudsman if the in-house complaints procedure has not been successful or has failed to resolve your problem. If you decide to bypass this then you will be referred back to your dental practice by the Ombudsman.

Problem with a private dentist

Private dentists should also have an in-house complaints service. This will be set of procedures for making a complaint and must be made accessible to you.

If the issue cannot be resolved by speaking to the private dentist then another option is the ‘Dental Complaints Service’. This is only available to private dentists and only those within the UK.

The Dental Complaints Service is an independent body who oversee complaints.

This service has their own dedicated complaints procedure which is accessed via their website or their helpline.

If you choose to visit another dentist to have repair work done then you will have to pay for this work before trying to claim the cost back from the original dentist. This right to claim falls under the UK’s Supply of Goods and Services Act and the same rules apply to dentistry as they do with any other service.

Problem with your dentist and dental insurance

Many people have some form of dental insurance. If you have taken out insurance then your insurer will have a complaints procedure which you can access. Contact them and explain about the situation.

They will advise you to speak to your dentist to see if a solution can be found. If not then they will become involved in your complaint. They will also offer support and advice.

Making a complaint

If you have undergone a painful experience or have received treatment which you feel is substandard then write a letter of complaint to the dental practice.

This can be addressed to the practice manager or failing that, send it to your Primary Care Trust (if NHS).

If you are not satisfied with their response then the next step is either the Ombudsman (NHS) or the Dental Complaints Service (private).


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