Easy Pickings – UK Dentistry And Dental Litigators

By Chris Tapper


Six years ago, I attended a two-day residential course. It was a CPD course I hasten to add, not the usual anger management or ‘appropriate behaviour in the workplace’ type of thing I used to have to attend before they found the right tablets for me.

Anyway, it was very interesting, although I freely admit I never put a single thing I learned into practice – mainly because the dental corporate I work for wouldn’t shell out for the equipment I needed unless I could produce a business plan that proved I could earn them at least a tenner for every quid they invested. But that is by the by.

On the evening of the first day (a Friday if I recall correctly), the ten participants plus the lecturer and two representatives of the sponsoring company, enjoyed a meal in the hotel where the course was being held. After a very pleasant starter and main course, I moved to where a gaggle of four youthful dentists were sitting and enquired as to where they were in terms of their careers. It transpired that all four had graduated from the same Northern dental school and had all been qualified roughly two years. They were all general dental practitioners and had all taken up associateships in NHS practices.

As the most experienced dentist on the course – actually, why mince words, the oldest – I was interested to see if the youngsters were enjoying their chosen profession so far. I think I was trying to vicariously re-establish myself with my early enthusiasm for dentistry.

I posed, what I felt, was a fairly innocuous question to the group:


"How’s it going?"


One female dentist confessed that she cried every night when she arrived home from work, and sometimes did it during surgery sessions. One of the males said he was so anxious about work that he threw up most mornings and that brushing the lingual aspects of his teeth was impossible, while the other female said she had trouble sleeping and had been put on antidepressants six months earlier.

Perhaps the most troubling response was from the other male, who confessed that he had on a number of occasions, thought of ‘ending it,’ having realised that he had made a dreadful mistake in going into dentistry, and couldn’t see any way out. My concern for him diminished a little when I saw that he had an incredibly healthy appetite, demolishing his own rhubarb crumble and a female colleague’s lemon sorbet in less than three minutes.

When I questioned them more closely, the reason for their universal despair was not down to the pursuit of ridiculous UDA targets or the student debts they were saddled with, but the fear of dental litigation.

All four were constantly worried that they would see their careers end either in a GDC meeting, or more likely, through the bad publicity and financial ruin brought about as a result of a civil action facilitated by a dental litigation firm. They felt that the chances of those events happening to them were high, since one of their fellow students had already found himself in the middle of litigation as a result of an NHS root-filling having not worked.

Now that was six years ago, and I would argue that since then, the UK dental profession has slipped into a febrile anxiety that I have never previously witnessed in the 30 years or so that I have been working in dentistry.

Never have I seen dental colleagues (and even strangers) so jaded and so preoccupied with fears of dental complaints and ‘the dreaded letter’ from a certain Northern dental litigation firm.

I will freely accept that I have no scientific evidence for my observations and that my views are based purely on the empirical, but I personally know of no dentist who has not recently entertained thoughts that a patient might ‘turn legal’ if the wind blows the wrong way.

Over the past 18 months, I have been offering support to a close young colleague, being pursued by an extremely aggressive young solicitor (she IS young, I looked her up) who is alleging ‘negligence’ after her client developed dry socket after a routine extraction of an upper first molar. Rightly or wrongly, my colleague decided she did not want to consult her defence organisation and so I have been (rightly or wrongly) equally aggressive in demanding expert witness or consultant reports in support of their absurd claim. So far, the solicitor has failed to provide any evidence of negligence or give any reason why an expert assessor’s report has not been provided. All I know is, it has been fun ‘having a go’ back, but it to me illustrates a sad fact – nobody in the UK-based dental profession is safe from opportunistic punts from patients who want to make a quick quid from the no-win-no-fee mob.

A few months ago, a solicitor I know told me that during a local meeting of his legal colleagues, a speaker said that a lucrative and growing new source of business was dental litigation and that it was “something to think about” since the clampdown on spurious ‘whiplash’ claims and ‘Benidorm Belly’ – where package holiday tourists claim compensation for stomach upsets caused by dubious calamari and fries - had resulted in less opportunity for successful claims.

Being a Dentist


Recent experience has taught me that dental litigators are a tenacious and avaricious species and are unlikely to give up easily on an area of medical law that they consider to be easy pickings. Certainly, according to my legal friend, lawyers see it as a much easier area to be successful in than medical litigation.

Soon, the cost of dental defence subscriptions will be prohibitive to viable practice, and the profession, once all our European colleagues go back home, will find itself unable to cope with patient demand. What is the answer? Your guess is as good as mine.

Until then, I am going to have a rhubarb crumble and some sorbet.




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4909 Hits

CPD The Easy Way

CPD The Easy Way

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10085 Hits

Building Highly Skilled Practice Teams of Tomorrow - Apprenticeship in Dental Nursing

Building Highly Skilled Practice Teams of Tomorrow - Apprenticeship in Dental Nursing

Introducing the new Apprenticeship in Dental Nursing – an exciting opportunity for modern dental practices to develop a highly skilled team – brought to you by Healthcare Learning and Barnet and Southgate College in London.


A leading supplier of dental education, Healthcare Learning will deliver high quality content and on-going support for all apprentices. Widely recognised learning platforms such as the Dental Nurse Education Zone (DNEZ) will also be made available to apprentices, offering them even more resources to complete their studies and maintain their skills in the long-term.


Barnet and Southgate College has extensive experience in successfully providing a wide range of high quality apprenticeship programmes across various different industries, and will be delivering first-rate classroom-based workshops for dental nurse apprentices as well as providing full quality assurance for the overall programme.


Benefits of getting involved


The first clear benefit for practices getting involved with the programme is that their apprentices will learn on the job, developing the hands-on skills and experience they need to excel in the role of a dental nurse. What’s more, the majority of the course is delivered through online webinars from Healthcare Learning, so apprentices will need to take little time away from the practice.


The programme reflects all the clinical responsibilities of modern dental nurses, equipping them with the knowledge, skills, behaviours and practical workplace experience they need to perform the role effectively. For the practice, this affords complete confidence in the capabilities of the apprentice upon completion of the course to fulfil the duties of a dental nurse effectively. Plus, team members working alongside apprentices have an opportunity to help mould them into highly accomplished professionals, who understand and align with the principles and values of the existing team and business.


For practices that meet the criteria, there is also extensive funding to subsidise the costs of training each apprenticeship. The government has pledged to boost apprenticeships by creating 3 million programmes by 2020 and the Dental Nursing programme is a key beneficiary of this initiative. Therefore, the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) will deliver £2 for every £1 the practice invests, up to the £6,000 core funding cap. For practices that qualify for all the additional government incentives, while they will initially invest £3,000 per apprentice, they are set to receive £3,600 in rebates once the course is completed and so will actually benefit by £600 per apprentice.


A bright future


The Apprenticeship in Dental Nursing provides students with a Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing, which is equivalent to two A-levels. Not only does this enable apprentices to register with the GDC and embark on a long and successful professional career in dentistry, but it also offers enormous potential for them to undertake further training in order to advance and move onto senior roles. All this continues to benefit the practice – highly motivated staff with the chance to progress can help expand the services available and drive the business forwards.


Intake for the apprenticeship programme begins every few months with the next start dates in early 2016. An eligibility criteria form is available to provide a quick assessment of candidates’ suitability for the course. Generally, candidates need a grade C or above in GCSE English and Maths.


The Apprenticeship in Dental Nursing provides a fantastic opportunity to develop a highly skilled and experienced workforce for the future success of every dental practice. Find out more today.



For more information or applications contact Healthcare Learning

 Tel: 020 7400 8989

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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3225 Hits

Pushing the Boundaries of Education and Training in Implant Dentistry

Pushing the Boundaries of Education and Training in Implant Dentistry

Clinical competency is the foundation for excellence in dentistry. Through high quality and on-going training and education, professionals acquire and develop the appropriate skills that enable them to deliver safe and effective dental treatment to their patients.


Particularly in such a fast-paced profession as dentistry, where techniques, materials and technologies are rapidly advancing and changing the way treatment is provided, remaining abreast of the latest innovations and ideas is vital. Not only does this ensure competency to treat patients in the most appropriate way, but it also allows practitioners to enhance the dental care and treatment they offer. 


What’s more, it’s important to develop knowledge and understanding in a broad range of areas. For example, if you wish to offer implant treatment to patients it is clear that you need to complete advanced training so that you have the skills necessary for the provision of safe and effective services. However, even as a GDP who doesn’t provide such treatment directly to patients, you still need sufficient knowledge that will enable you to assess the health of implant supported restorations that you may encounter.


Whether clinicians require education for the placement, restoration or maintenance of dental implants, it is paramount that any training completed is of the highest calibre.


Passionate about improving awareness of and access to first-class tuition in the field is Ken Nicholson. Ken is the founder of the British Society of Oral Implantology, a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and a member of the Faculty of Examiners at RCS Edinburgh, amongst many other accolades. He is also the founder of SmileTube.tv, a learning portal designed to ensure practitioners’ competency in implant treatment. He says:


“The widespread use and published success of dental implant supported restorations is encouraging more and more GDPs to become involved in this treatment modality. A visit to the dentist’s section of the Yellow Pages makes it difficult to ignore the fact that an increasing number of practitioners are using the label ‘Cosmetic and Implant Practice’. Ensuring the clinician has the appropriate knowledge and skills to undertake dental implant treatment is of paramount importance.


“The GDC’s required learning outcomes of undergraduate education for Dentists: The First Five Years states that dental students should ‘be familiar with dental implants as an option in replacing missing teeth’. UK-qualified dentists are not expected to practise implant dentistry without undertaking structured postgraduate training and assessment of competence.


“The first step towards treating a patient is case assessment, where attention to detail and identification of the salient features of the case are essential. Even if a general practitioner does not wish to provide implant treatment, it is almost certain that he or she will be caring for patients with implant-supported restorations. A component of that care will be assessment of the health of the implant restoration(s) for which an understanding of implant dentistry is essential.”


For those wishing to perform implant treatment themselves, it is crucial that any training undertaken is carefully designed to provide both the theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience clinicians need to ensure their clinical competency.


Through SmileTube.tv, practitioners have access to a structured, blended learning programme that is tailored to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skill to place and restore dental implants, in a safe environment. The course involves four online modules, which can be completed at a time and from a place of the delegate’s choosing for ultimate engagement and effectiveness of learning. Training concludes with eight clinical days where delegates can develop practical skills for placing and restoring implants, while under the supervision of leading implant practitioners across the country and with access to cutting-edge facilities.


“The SmileTube.tv ‘Ultimate Implant Year Course’ delivered in partnership with Nobel Biocare provides delegates with the core knowledge and competence in implant dentistry expected of a GDP, as described by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for the Diploma in Implant Dentistry at the College,” continues Ken. “The knowledge component of the course, and assessment of that knowledge, is delivered online through the purpose designed e-learning platform SmileTube.tv, and delegates are able to revisit any material as many times as they need for the duration of the course. The clinical skills component, and skills assessment, is delivered through one of a network of clinical training centres throughout the UK and Ireland.


“I believe Nobel Biocare to be a global leader in implant dentistry with a hugely impressive and well documented track record. It is a proactive, innovative and forward-thinking company keen to support education and training for the GDP, which arguably offers the most comprehensive range of services, products and materials in the industry. The latest implant design from Nobel Biocare, the NobelParallel® Conical Connection (CC) implant will be one of the implant designs used on the SmileTube.tv course and promises to be an excellent platform for the newcomer to implant dentistry.


“As Nobel Biocare has been innovative in its approach to implant dentistry, SmileTube.tv has been innovative in its approach to education and training in the field. We hope to develop a passionate, global learning community, pushing the boundaries of education and training in implant dentistry to provide a better experience for our learners and a safe and predictable outcome for their patients.”



For more details on the learning opportunities available, please visit www.smiletube.tv, email Janine our Learning Community Facilitator on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0289 252 8522.


For more information about the exciting innovations available from Nobel Biocare, please call 0208 756 3300 or visit www.nobelbiocare.com


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4123 Hits

TMJ: A Short Course

A Short Course on the TMJ

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6447 Hits

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