/ Health

Rotten advice from my dentist didn’t fill me with confidence

Sad tooth cartoon

I recently needed an emergency appointment with a dentist; any dentist I could see. But the advice I received shocked me more than the problem itself, especially after learning that I had probably been misinformed.

I’ve got to admit, I don’t go to the dentist as much as I probably should, or take the best care of my teeth. But no matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you are with your pearly whites, you should always be given the right treatment and advice, filling you with confidence that you can trust your dentist and what they’re saying.

But sadly my confidence was vastly diminished by a rushed appointment with a London dentist a few months ago…

Getting to the root of the problem

I had noticed that my gum had receded in one place, panicking me, making me fear that all my teeth were going to fall out.

So I scrambled around to find an NHS dentist near me that could see me at short notice – I am still only registered at a private one near where my parents live. Thankfully I found one that could see me the next day for a 10 minute appointment. I say thankfully, but in retrospect, it just cost me more money (£18) and worry.

Sitting nervously in the dentist’s chair, I was told that not only would I need a filling for the gum problem, but I would also need to have a complete reconstruction of my bite as that was apparently the cause of the problem. Alarm bells rung as I have always known I have an unusual bite, but it has never been pointed out as a problem before with any other dentist.

Even more concerned than I initially was, I took the plunge financially (£50) and forked out to see one of the dentists at the private clinic near my parents for a second opinion. A totally different take on the problem, he advised that I should have a hygienist clean, not a filling, and that my bite was only something that would need attention for cosmetic reasons.

Brushing up on my consumer rights

Relieved at having some reassurance, it left me questioning: how do you know what advice to trust and where can you turn if you’re concerned? The emergency appointment was rushed, and maybe with a proper full-length one it would have been different story. But there’s no way of knowing, and I could have gone ahead with getting a potentially needless filling.

Either way, I was certainly glad that I got a second opinion. I didn’t realise it at the time but, if you’re worried about the advice you have been given, you have the right to make a complaint about your dentist. So have you ever been given advice that concerned you? And have you ever complained?


Some dentists practice what I call ‘ear to ear’ dentistry. They fill everything and anything they can to earn as much as possible. Others , meanwhile, will fill nothing until it has got very bad.
Difficult to know which you have but on going to a new dentist be very wary of any advice and do not decide anything at that moment and do not pay , only for an inspection. If you have raging tooth ache you may need urgent attention but may be an abcess which needs drug treatment.
Dentists sem to me to be very different and totally unlike doctors. I suppose the latter do not get paid by the work they recomend so are far more objective.
Get to speak to others before visiting a dentist to see which type they are.

Mr Martin says:
25 June 2013

People are not only afraid to complain about Dentists but, they’re not knowledgeable about Dentistry to be able to question their experiences with a Dentist. They are unable to compare and know what to expect and not expect.
I’ve sacked 5 Dentists for reasons of suspected deliberate pain infliction by a Dentist of ethnic bias to, poor workmanship and costs.
[One dentist] seemed to deliberately inflict pain and take it on himself to be the Hygienist with forced affliction of the use of the tool that left much bleeding. This Mr X nearly got a punch on the nose off me. Obviously, I sacked him and went elsewhere. Unfortunately, I’d gone to him from another terrible incident who squirted Lignocain all over my throat and slipped with the scalpel and cut a gash right up to the roof of my mouth! Obviously I sacked ’em but should have smacked him.
So, I’ve tried 5 Dentists with the 2 above being the worst and now, I’ve found one that’s great. A Mr Rowe at Whitehill Road Dentist Practice. I’ve been going there for a year now. So far so good. He’s very good and his treatment is entirely different to the brutal experiences I’ve experienced.
I say to people, DO be suspicious of sinister Dentists and DO question and sack them if you need to. Don’t be shy and don’t tolerate what you think to be bad workmanship or deliberate pain afflictions.

[This comment has been edited for breaking our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

annie says:
13 November 2017

They hope we’re all ignorant!
But I have experience of dentures – my current concern – for over 50 years, and the last were sooooooooooooooo much better than the disasters being offered now, 10 (ten!) efforts over 4 years, which are frankly unbelievable in their poor and unsuitable quality.
Yet I, too, am being treated like I’m ungrateful, ignorant, uncommited – I’ve been bullied, my comments overridden, browbeaten, even abused and blackmailed when I insisted I wanted to see my dental plan!! And that was a senior Clinician at the Dental Hospital!
Even the person from patient care attended the last appointment and turned out to be an ‘enforcer’, saying, no insisting forcibly, that even if the current disastrous product doesn’t work they will refuse to try again – and this from one of the senior bods on the Dental Council!!
I’m getting seriously stressed out as I’m not able to chew any food – but what do they care!!!

We phoned NHS Direct as we had a French student staying with toothache. We took her to the emergency NHS dentist they gave us the address for. (The dentist we use occasionally was not available.) This dentist could not see anything amiss and came to the conclusion that she was just anxious.

The pain did not go away and so we took her to another private dentist. (In the past when I’ve asked for an NHS one it has just been for when you are on benefits or are a child). This one tapped around all her teeth “Does this hurt?” until she said “yes”. Well he said ” You have a problem inside that one”. I believe he also then took some x-rays.

Not surprisingly she flew home to France to visit her own dentist.

Paul says:
26 June 2013

Having recently moved to a new area I joined a new dentist. At the 1st check up the dentist took an X-ray and point out 3 areas of decay. On leaving the dentist I am handed a invoice for work to be done which details 11 fillings. At this point alarm bells start ringing as I have only ever had 1 filling before and an X-ray the previous year by my dentist of 20 plus years. I decided to get a second opinion so go back to my old dentist who finds the 3 areas of decay but states that only one of them needs a filling at the moment. My old dentist also double checks this with another dentist in the practice. Outcome is both my wife and I have moved back to the old dentist.

Why trust a Dentist they been fiddling the system since time began

So what’s the alternative? Dental self-help?
I’ve been going to the same (private) dentist for at least 25 years. Even when I was working and living abroad I came to him for check-ups and occasional treatment. I have no reason to believe that he’s ever applied unnecessary treatmet and although he is not cheap, he is part of a multi-dentist practice, with receptionists, hygienists, several dental nurses, pleasant surroundings and the very latest dental equipment. He has never offered me cosmetic treatments, but, when I asked for them, has advised and carried them out to my satisfaction. True, I see him for check-ups every six months, and “scale and polish with the dentist” also every six months, whereas I know that friends who visit NHS dentists see them once a year, unless they are in pain… but if that’s the price to keeping my own teeth for as long as possible, so be it. We’ve discussed implants – which he carries out – to fill some side gaps, but he was the first to admit that given that the gaps are not visible, the cost was unjustified. Luckily he is quite a bit younger than me, so I hope that he will continue to ply his trade for as long as I’ll have teeth!

I believe that the lady who explained her issue,has probably given the dentist a way out of them being responsible.The facts are I believe,that certain professionals will find a flaw in something easier than someone not educated as well as them + it is in their interest not to be admitting any mistake.I have looked into faults all my life & as for the scores of people I focused on & got good results.I as everyone ever born,will make mistakes.Mine was,i never put myself 1st & now have an ongoing illness.Thank God,i am not 1 to let bitterness take over.If only we were all pointed in the right direction as to where to complain & whoever was responsible could accept responsibility + pass his mistake on to others for to look out for.Things will stay as they are (get worse as time passes).Better still update us all on how to help ourselves & remind the professionals as to anything we are not sure is correct,yes.I agree,that will probably never happen.Just as I will probably continue to care about others,the beauty of life now.I realise I can choose who.Who would not agree WHICH is a Godsend to millions,they give an independent opinion to help us all & that is why I tell all about the site.Take care all

annie says:
13 November 2017

Three dentists and now the Dental Hospital have done dentures for me which are very much too short and which do not chew at all, as well as constantly risking biting my lip because of the shortness.
I am being treated as though I am being difficult for saying that the outcome – no chewing, poor fit, danger of injury – is unacceptable.
[That is aside from some astonishingly gross technical faults such as top and bottom being different arcs!]
Do I have a right to insist that dentures
-fit properly,
– can be used to chew food (sic!)
– do not constantly risk injury?
None of these pages says what standard of treatment I can insist on.