Keren Levy was fit and healthy when she first felt pain in a molar. After numerous dentists and doctors left it untreated, there were knock-on effects throughout her body. Today she is in constant pain and look almost unrecognisable
She went to the dentist a number of times but X-rays showed nothing untoward. However, Karen started to develop a horribly rotting taste and knew the tooth was necrotic. She begged her dentist to give her root canal treatment or extract it, but without a visible sign this was needed she was refused. Instead she was referred to her GP, implying her distress was bereavement due to her mother recently dying.
Many months later, Keren was referred to a different dentist who gave her a 3D scan that showed the original tooth to be necrotic, as she had said five months before. Evidence of the infection was clear in the surrounding bone. Her dentist records that the delay in treating the original dental infection appears to have triggered a systemic response in my body’s autonomic or endocrine system.
Having had perfect health, eventually I had to have 12 root canals; all those teeth were necrotic.
Confronted by the facts, the first dentist Keren saw said that, had he been in his Athens surgery, he would have carried out a root canal on the original tooth. But here, in the UK, he had been concerned he could be held to account by General Dental Council (GDC) regulations, given the X-ray image had not been “definitive”.
An editorial in the British Dental Journal (BDJ) as long ago as 2014 described a climate of “fear and distrust” that had led to defensive dentistry because of the prospect of legal action or disciplinary procedures if anything goes wrong.
Karen's case is a horrific example of excessive diagnostic testing delay, instead of treatment. Months of referrals to neurologists, maxillo-facial specialists, psychologists, GPs, oral medicine departments and other dentists went against common sense and ensured responsibility could never be laid at a particular dentist’s door. Invariably, the first question was: “What did the last dentist say?”