The Daily Mail’s Zoe Brennan reports on the horrifying truth about cosmetic dentists
30th June 2013
All Gemma Stowers wanted was an attractive smile. Her teeth had been fairly straight but as her wisdom teeth came through, her teeth became crowded, overlapping on both the top and bottom. So Gemma looked for a dentist on the internet, “it all seemed so easy,” she says.
But what should have been a routine teeth-straightening program turned into five years of misery after her treatment was botched by a Harley Street orthodontist.
Gemma, 30, has been left with a £10,000 bill, permanent damage to her teeth and in need of a costly bone graft she can’t afford.
And she’s not alone. In the past five years there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of people seeking cosmetic dentistry – and a similar surge in the number of cases of negligence as under-qualified practitioners cash in.
Her nightmare began when she visited Dr Philippe Brunelle – who she found through an internet search, in August, 2007.
‘He had a Harley Street clinic, a website full of accolades and offered a free initial consultation,’ she says.
Gemma was hoping to be fitted with concealed braces, behind the teeth, but Dr Brunelle advised that white ceramic ‘train-track’ braces, glued on to the front of the teeth, and would achieve a better smile in a shorter time frame – just 16 months.
Gemma agreed, paying a total of £3,500 over a 12-month period. Nearly four years later, however, her braces were still on.
‘I went back for check-ups almost monthly, but every time Dr Brunelle told me it would be another few months before they could come off,’ she recalls.
Then, in January, 2011, she got engaged. Concerned about the lack of progress, and with an upcoming wedding, she consulted another dentist, who referred her to one of the UK’s leading specialist dental hospitals, the Eastman Dental Hospital in Central London.
The dentist there delivered shocking news. ‘He said my teeth had been damaged irreparably,’ says Gemma. ‘My bottom teeth had been pulled out of alignment and looked worse than they did at the beginning. The brace had weakened the roots of my teeth so they were wobbly.’
In February this year, Dr Brunelle was struck off by the General Dental Council after being sued by two other patients.
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