Dental expert witness work

 Dental expert witness

Essentially dental expert witness service work falls into two categories, personal injury and dental negligence.

Personal injury

Children’s dental injuries are usually the most complex. Injuries are common around age 2 to 3 when children toddle and their motor coordination is developing as they move around on their own. In the permanent dentition peak incidence for boys is found at aged 9 to 10 years at a time when vigorous playing and sports are frequent. In 12 year old children 20-30% have suffered dental injuries, particularly boys. In adulthood the most common causes of injury of the permanent dentition are falls, followed by traffic injuries, acts of violence and sports injuries.

Dental negligence

Dentistry is a very difficult job necessitating hundreds of decisions a day. It is not surprising it is stressful dealing with patients in pain and who are frightened of treatment. Things go wrong, poor communication is often an underlying factor. Where there is a failure on the clinician’s part this can have a considerable impact on the patient. The top 10 complaints about dental treatment are concerned with the following aspects:

  1. Crowns
  2. Root fillings
  3. Bridges
  4. Fillings
  5. Implants
  6. Dentures
  7. Extractions
  8. Veneers
  9. Braces
  10. Scale and polish

And the top 5 non-clinical issues which lead to patients complaints are:

  1. Failure of treatment
  2. Poor communication
  3. Post-operative pain
  4. Poor follow-up care
  5. Patient fees

Get the most out of your dental expert witness

Detailed instructions and paginated folders are ideal. These should be supplemented with the following dental materials:

  1. A&E records (PI)
  2. Dental records, quality colour photocopies of both sides of the older beige dental records or originals
  3. Copies of digital radiographs (jpegs) or quality copies or original small dental films
  4. Clinical photographs and plaster casts of teeth are often overlooked.

Dentists and specialists

Often solicitors and legal executives erroneously look for an orthodontist in PI cases. An orthodontist is a specialist concerned with straightening teeth with braces rather than managing damaged teeth. It is a specialism that that most people are familiar with and may have encountered personally in their early teens!

There are not many dental expert witnesses in the UK. General dentists and dentists with a special interest in expert witness work can often assist as the lead EW.

Other specialists in dentistry of interest to the instructing party may include the following:

  • Restorative dentistry, specialists concerned with restoring teeth
  • Prosthodontics, specialists concerned with replacing missing teeth
  • Endodontics, specialists concerned with root filling teeth
  • Periodontics, specialists concerned with periodontal disease (gum disease)
  • Oral Surgery, removing wisdom teeth, facial injuries
  • Paediatric dentistry, children’s dentistry

If you unsure which type of dental expert you need we are happy to help.


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20 years clinical experience

20 years clinical experience

Experienced dental expert witness

Dr Smyth qualified from Dundee University in 1992 so that is 20 years clinical in 2012. Illustrated here working with his chair side assistant Hannah Jane using our clinical microscope. The clinical microscope enables optimal vision due to magnification and illumination when carrying out intricate work such as root fillings.

The advantage of magnification

Through the microscope it is possible to see into the pulp chamber and locate minute canals openings for best results. In addition problems such as fractures in teeth due to trauma can be  identified.







Instructing solicitors

Instructing solicitors

Materials & the dental expert

In order to obtain a quality dental report the best materials to provide to your expert include the following:

  1. Dental records may be paper or computer printouts
  2. Clinical Photographs
  3. Study casts
  4. Radiographs or X-ray pictures

Dental records

Check copies are legible! Good colour photocopies of both sides of paper dental record cards are best. Or provide originals. Records relating to a few years before the accident help determine the pre-accident condition for PI cases.

Clinical Photographs

These are rarely available but the clients photographs of their injuries, possibly mobile phone pictures nowadays, or formal clinical photographs help illustrate the dental condition or the injuries sustained. Often clients forget the details and the photographs act as an aide-memoir.

Radiographs or X-ray pictures

Digital radiographs are often copied onto a Cd-rom, more recently these are password protected and sometimes they can be very difficult to access! Conventional film radiographs are still very common and usually originals are provided. Small films are called periapicals or bite wings and large scans of the jaws are called OPG’s or DPT’s (Dentopantomograph).

Plaster casts of teeth or tooth preparations

Dental negligence cases may relate to crown and bridgework and the plaster casts or study casts made when dental impressions are cast by dental laboratories are often forgotten about. These study casts may illustrate the condition of the teeth before dental treatment (pre-operative condition), or the condition of teeth after a dental injury. It is considered good practice to store patient models or at least consider giving them to patients to look after. If these can be obtained this can provide a wealth of information regarding for example the condition of tooth stumps beneath cemented crowns and bridges.