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How long do you have to bring a dental negligence claim?

Becoming a victim of dental negligence can be devastating. It can leave you feeling self-conscious and often the experience can be painful and the cause of long-term dental issues.

Whilst it’s always best to instruct a solicitor as soon as you think you may have become a victim of dental negligence, it’s not essential to do so right away, you can still make a successful claim after the event has happened.

In this article, we will reveal how long you have to report a case of dental negligence and the steps that must be taken in order to ensure a successful claim is made.

The basic rule in any dental negligence case is that court proceedings must begin within 3 years of when the negligent treatment being administered, this principle is the same across all personal injury cases.

This 3 year period is also known as the limitation period.

However, should your treatment have been carried out more than three years ago, all is not lost. There are certain exceptions to the basic rule that may still allow you to bring a claim for dental negligence.

The date of knowledge

The date of knowledge is the first exception that we will discuss.

It’s not uncommon for those who have suffered dental negligence to not realise they have been a victim of bad treatment until many years later when more severe symptoms begin to manifest themselves.

A common claim that is often brought under this exception to the limitation period is when dental practitioners fail to diagnose periodontal disease (gum disease).

Gum disease is a symptomless condition that should always be monitored by your dental practitioner.

Failing to monitor the disease can have serious consequences including tooth loss.

Often a patient may not be diagnosed with gum disease until they have changed dentists and been diagnosed by their new dental practitioner.

In these circumstances, the 3 year limitation period will run from the moment the patient is diagnosed and comes to know of the dental negligence.

Constructive knowledge

Constructive knowledge is perhaps one of the more complex issues when bringing a dental negligence claim.

Constructive knowledge is when a claimant who says they had no knowledge of the negligence is deemed by the court to have had constructive knowledge as they ‘should’ have known that their treatment was not up to standard.

One example may be a patient who has a filling which falls out and so it is replaced, and that filling also falls out as does the third and so on.

In this example, the court may deem that a reasonable person would realise that the treatment they were receiving was not up to the correct standard and they should have sought a second opinion.


If you believe you may have received substandard dental treatment and would like to pursue a claim, our team can help.

As we have mentioned above it’s vital you contact one of our dental negligence team within three years of the sub-standard dental treatment being carried out.

In reality, it’s always best to contact one of our solicitors as soon as possible as court proceedings can begin sooner and our team can focus on helping you secure the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible.

Our dental negligence team work on a no win-no fee basis and we also offer a free initial interview to review your specific circumstances and assess your dental negligence claim.

If you would like to arrange your free interview, please call us for free on 0800 093 2030 or complete our online enquiry form.