A GRANDMOTHER who lost 13 of her teeth as a result of poor dental treatment has been paid £35,000.
Alexandra Walkden’s grandchildren dubbed her “Spongebob”, after the gap-toothed cartoon character, after she was left with just two visible top teeth when gum disease went undetected.
The 62-year-old was left “absolutely devastated” when she was told her teeth were rotting, and has since spent more than £20,000 on dental implants.
Dr John Musgrave, her dentist of almost 30 years at Incisive Dental Practice in Preston, did not admit liability, and the case was settled out of court.
Alexandra, who lives in Ribbleton, Preston, discovered a loose crown while on holiday in Yorkshire in 2012 and went to a local dentist.
She said: “I’ve been for regular check-ups at my dentist in Preston for the last 26 years and have diligently brushed my teeth every morning and evening, so I didn’t think I had anything to worry about as I sat down in the dentist’s chair. After five minutes however, it was apparent something was terribly wrong.
“The emergency dentist was clearly concerned, and asked me when was the last time I’d seen a dentist?
“He told me I had long-term gum disease and my teeth were rotting. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I was in a daze.”
Alexandra cut short her holiday and saw another dentist in Preston, who confirmed her teeth were irreparably damaged.
She said: “I was absolutely devastated.
“It’s hard for someone to imagine how it feels to be told you will lose all your teeth. I broke down in floods of tears, distraught at the thought of losing my teeth, of never smiling again.
“I felt physically sick at the state of my mouth, my confidence was shattered.”
Treatment started in November 2012 with the extraction of all but four teeth at the top.
Then, to fit implants and a temporary bridge, the remaining four teeth were removed.
Alexandra lost a total of 13 teeth.
Alexandra said: “I had to go and have most of the top set out, I looked like I had been hit in the face because of the bruising.
“The grandkids saw me without the partial denture and with the one tooth, and they were saying, ‘Who does she look like?’
“One said Spongebob, and my other granddaughter said ‘No, more like Nanny McPhee’”
Alexandra said she had attended appointments with Dr Musgrave every six months.
She said: “I put my faith in him, being the expert. I asked are there any problems, he said no, or if I had a bit of a twinge he would put a filling in.”
Alexandra has since paid thousands of pounds to have titanium implants fitted.
She said: “We’re talking about your smile, it’s something you want for the rest of your life.
“Now I can smile, I can eat, obviously I’ll never replace my real teeth, I haven’t got the same sensation.
“But a smile is so important.”
In October 2012, Alexandra instructed specialist dental negligence lawyers at the Dental Law Partnership to take up her case.
Her claim was eventually settled out of court in December 2014, though Dr Musgrave did not admit liability.
Associate solicitor, Heather Owen at the Dental Law Partnership, said: “Alexandra’s case was one of long-term mistreatment, compounded by a string of failures by her dentist Dr Musgrave.
“He routinely failed to check the health of her teeth, screen for gum disease, remove decay or even carry out appropriate preventative care.
“At no point was the patient advised of alternative treatment options or referred to specialists when her oral health started to decline.”
Alexandra said: “Compensation is not a ‘pay out’. No amount of money can compensate for having lost my teeth.
“The money I’ve received will be used to cover the thousands of pounds I have paid out of my own pocket for all the necessary remedial and cosmetic work.”
With the help of the Dental Law Partnership, Mrs Walkden is now appealing to the General Dental Council for further action to be taken against Dr Musgrave.
Dr Musgrave could not be reached for comment when approached by the Lancashire Evening Post.