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  • A patient harmed by orthodontic treatment shares their story

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    In this anonymous blog, a patient shares their experience of orthodontic treatment which they undertook to reduce overcrowding of their teeth. However, instead of solving the problem, the treatment caused multiple, complex dental issues that have resulted in severe pain and a high financial cost. The patient talks about how their orthodontist has been unwilling to take any responsibility for the issues caused, threatening legal action if the patient pursues any claims against them. They also discuss the reluctance of other orthodontists to get involved in trying to treat the issues they now face, and call for regulators and governments to look into the issue of negligent orthodontic treatment.


    I underwent an orthodontic treatment that unfortunately turned into a complete nightmare. My motivation for pursuing this treatment was to address overcrowding in my teeth so as to reduce the risk of decay due to overlapping. An orthodontist assured me that it would be a straightforward treatment and that it would last approximately two years. As a result I decided to move forward with the treatment, which consisted of fixed braces.

    Throughout the treatment, I diligently attended all scheduled appointments, trusting in the orthodontist's expertise. The orthodontist did not raise any concerns regarding the progress even though after 2.5 years, it became evident that the treatment was far from completion, and my teeth appeared worse than when I started the treatment. I started to get concerned about the treatment but the orthodontist assured me that the treatment would be finalised within a few months.

    As the treatment progressed, I was chipping my upper front teeth with the brackets on my lower front teeth and the orthodontist added posterior bite stoppers to my molars. I was getting concerned about my bite (occlusion) and was asking the orthodontist about this and about the stoppers. However, despite expressing my concerns to the orthodontist multiple times, I was dismissed as a perfectionist, and my worries were brushed aside. The orthodontist insisted that any potential remaining imperfections in my bite would be resolved through selective grinding after removing the braces and bite stoppers.

    After enduring four years of treatment, the braces and bite stoppers were finally removed. To my surprise, I realised that I was only biting on some of my front teeth and that I had no contact in my back teeth. I immediately raised this issue with the orthodontist, but was advised to wait for my bite to settle naturally. I also voiced concerns about the visibility of the rough surface of my teeth, but once again, I was told that it would resolve on its own.

    However, my bite felt extremely uncomfortable with every passing second and this discomfort did not subside—I couldn't chew properly and I soon realised that it was not a matter of simply adjusting to a new bite. As a result, I sought a second opinion from another dental specialist. In the meantime, after a few weeks of biting on my front teeth, I also started to experience pain in two of my front teeth which continued to increase to the point that I was literally crying in pain. The dental specialist suggested removing the high spot on my front teeth as this could lead to damage, but they advised me to go back to the original orthodontist who did the treatment as they did not want to intervene in the matter. Upon trying to do so, the original orthodontist declined to address the issue or to even see me and advised me to communicate only through a lawyer.

    Despite numerous attempts to find resolution through additional dental appointments, I continued to suffer from pain and discomfort in my front teeth due to the unresolved high spot, since all the biting forces were being placed on just two front teeth. Eventually, another orthodontist and several other dentists tried to reduce this high spot by shaving from my front teeth, which slightly reduced the extreme pain. However, my front two teeth had already endured significant trauma from bearing the brunt of the bite pressure for an extended period and as a consequence, I continue to experience persistent pain in my front teeth to this day.

    The original orthodontist and the clinic refused to provide my treatment notes and records, and instead presented a report that shifted blame for the unfavourable outcome onto me. Eventually, through legal channels, I acquired my treatment notes and records. The orthodontist provided photos of my post treatment clay models that depicted contact points on my back teeth which I did not possess. This discrepancy was subsequently corroborated by another orthodontist, revealing that the original orthodontist had manipulated the clay models' contact points to create a false impression that I was biting on all my teeth. Furthermore, after shaving to reduce the high spot on my front two teeth as explained above, a thorough occlusion checkup and several 3D scans confirmed that I was left with only two pairs of contact in my teeth and that I had a bilateral posterior open bite.

    The majority of the dental specialists I visited in the same country refused to treat me with another orthodontic treatment, and advised me to go back to be treated by the previous orthodontist. Eventually, I had to travel to a different country to assess if my issue could be truly fixed and to assess if any damage had been done to my teeth. Unfortunately, things turned out to be worse than anticipated since further examinations and scans by specialists abroad revealed that I had severe root resorption especially in my upper front tooth, permanent enamel damage on all teeth caused during incorrect bracket removal, and bone loss due to incorrect the orthodontic movements and techniques that had been used. Some teeth were also improperly positioned in the bone, including some teeth with roots pointing outwards. I also got confirmation that the original orthodontist managed both my vertical and horizontal dimensions incorrectly through bad use of bite stoppers which pushed my molars into my gums (intrusion) and bad anchorage management respectively.

    It is very concerning that the orthodontist was so negligent and/or incompetent that even after I repeatedly expressed my concerns during the treatment, they still failed to identify and address several mistakes that were being made. Unfortunately, this had a cascading effect on my dental health, leading to root resorption, bone loss, incorrect tooth torque and several other effects.

    Furthermore, the fact that the same orthodontist has shown a complete lack of accountability and refused to take any responsibility, gaslit me and assured me to wait for my bite and roughness (the latter turned out to be permanent enamel damage) to settle is also very alarming behaviour. The selective grinding that I was advised about during the treatment also turned out not to be a solution for the extent of malocclusion I was left with. Moreover, the fact that I was left to bite solely on my front teeth for months once the braces and bite stoppers were removed led to more trauma and damage to the affected teeth. 

    The experience of enduring trauma and its aftermath becomes even more distressing when victims find themselves subjected to gaslighting not only from their initial orthodontists, but also by other dental specialists within the same country. Such instances involve attempting to conceal the severity of the issues faced by the patients so as to avoid entanglement in legal matters, rather than prioritising the best interests of the patient, as outlined in their professional oath. Moreover, seeking an orthodontist willing to provide expert testimony in legal proceedings poses an additional challenge to the victims. All of this further exacerbates the already challenging journey of those enduring such a trauma, adding another layer of complexity to the ordeal.

    The impact of this ordeal has extended far beyond my dental health, affecting various aspects of my life, including my physical wellbeing, my career and my personal relationships. My ability to chew food and enjoy a normal diet has been severely compromised and I cannot even enjoy a pizza, amongst several other foods. I have already had a year and a half of my life literally taken away from me. The extensive time and effort I spent researching orthodontic solutions, seeking someone that could help me, and advocating for my own health has also only added to the distress caused by the initial treatment.

    In an attempt to regain some functionality, I now find myself facing the prospect of undergoing another one to two years of orthodontic treatment with the added concern of potential tooth damage or loss due to the damage that has already been done by the previous treatment. Unfortunately, orthodontists still cannot guarantee that contact will be achieved since a posterior open bite should ideally be fixed with braces, however, I have to resort to Invisalign treatment as it seems to be the only viable option considering the trauma and root resorption that prohibits me from using traditional braces on my front teeth due to the forces. The process is far from straightforward, and the cost involved to "fix" all the issues that had been created by the original orthodontist runs into tens of thousands of euros. What should have been a 1.5-2 year treatment has now become a prolonged and distressing 7-8 year nightmare. The original orthodontist turned down requests to settle the damages and has even raised the threat of legal action against me should I choose to pursue further claims regarding the damages I have suffered.

    Patients place their trust and well-being in the hands of medical experts, and negligent treatment can lead to significant physical and emotional distress. I felt compelled to share my story, hoping to raise awareness about the importance of compassionate and responsible care within the dental field. I would like to seek acknowledgment of the seriousness of this matter and urge authorities to consider the potential consequences of such negligence and/or incompetence and this situation calls for measures to prevent similar distressing and traumatic incidents in the future.

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