Lawyer’s Concern After Dentist’s ‘Unacceptable’ Treatment

Legal Experts Secure Settlement For Dental Patient Who Had Veneers When She Was 14 Years Old


A medical law Solicitor is warning of the unnecessary and inappropriate use of dental veneers, particularly in children under 16, after a 14-year-old suffered two years of problems which saw her requiring further dental procedures to repair the veneers as they cracked and left her unable to eat hard foods.

Dental veneers are thin pieces of tooth-coloured material which are adhered to the front of a tooth to improve its appearance. They are not normally considered suitable for children under 16 years old unless a paediatric dental specialist has recommended them.

Laura Sloan, from Sheldon, Birmingham, had veneers applied to four of her upper front teeth in 2005 when she was just 14-years-old by her former dentist, Dr Stuart Johnstone. Laura was not concerned about the appearance of her teeth but Dr Johnstone recommended she have veneers. He failed to seek the opinion of a paediatric specialist before applying them.

Laura’s experience was featured on ITV’s Daybreak this morning which looked at the risks of veneers and the widespread availability of cosmetic dentistry.

Laura says she suffered taunts at school because the veneers were poorly fitted and were too big. She had problems flossing because the veneer cement had filled the spaces between the teeth. Her gums around the veneers became swollen and sore and her teeth became painful when biting and sensitive to hot and cold. Laura became very conscious of her appearance and hated having to smile for photos.

Laura’s veneers were eventually removed in 2007 but she continues to experience gum problems around the teeth which had veneers, as a result of the cement which was left on them.

Dr Johnstone, who practised at the Crabtree Drive Dental Practice in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham was struck off by the General Dental Council (GDC) for dishonestly carrying out unnecessary dental veneers on patients - including children as young as seven – which in some cases were not in the patients’ best interests but were motivated by personal financial gain. 

Jennifer Emerson, a medical law solicitor at Irwin Mitchell representing Laura and several others affected by treatment from Dr Johnstone, said: “This is a shocking example of a dentist putting personal gain before the welfare of his patients. Johnstone used every trick in the book to ensure that the dental charges he was able to claim back from the NHS were maximised.

“Veneers are essentially a cosmetic treatment and are not considered suitable for children under 16 years old. In the rare circumstances when veneers would be considered, an opinion from a paediatric specialist should be sought beforehand, which did not occur in Laura’s case.

“In addition, Laura found that the veneers did not fit properly to the teeth which led to problems with eating hard foods.

Laura’s case settled after we started court proceedings. The settlement will now help her pay for extra dental work to help her gums recover from what has been a two year ordeal.”

Emerson is also warning others to be aware of the potential pitfalls of having veneers, she added: “It has become fashionable to have dental work done to create a ‘perfect smile’ but people need to know that not everyone is a suitable candidate for dental veneers.

“Many patients are not properly counselled regarding the risks involved in the procedure and are not told that this is not a permanent ‘fix’ but will need further top-up treatments in the future. Veneers cannot simply be removed like false finger nails because the preparatory work leaves the original tooth surface permanently altered.

“Anyone considering veneers should ask their dentist to explain the pros and cons of the procedure and confirm it is suitable for them and should consider seeking a second opinion before giving consent.”