Ealing Women Says She Has Nowhere To Turn Following Botched Dental Treatment

12 February 2013

Transmission Director Gemma Stowers has been left with permanent damage to her mouth and is £10,000 out of pocket following negligent treatment at the hands of her orthodontist.

Twenty-nine-year-old Gemma from Ealing started her private treatment with orthodontist Dr Phillippe Brunelle in August 2007 at 77 Harley Street.

Gemma was keen to have a number of teeth straightened in what seemed to be a routine orthodontic procedure. “Dr Brunelle quoted me £3500 to have a number of teeth removed. She later found out that she should have only had four removed.

Luckily her normal dentist who doing the removals on Dr Brunelle’s instructions, realised there might be a mistake and queried it with him before removing the teeth.

What should have been a simple 16-month programme of work turned into five years of misery.

In May 2011, three years after the start of the treatment programme, Gemma was still wearing braces, suffering from avoidable movement of three teeth, and had  severe bone loss around another tooth.

Gemma’s normal dentist arranged for her to go to the Eastman Dental Hospital, one of the UK's leading specialist dental hospitals in Central London, for a second opinion. “I was concerned that there was no progress being made, “ said Gemma.

“The retainer Dr Brunelle had given me for my top teeth was such a poor fit that my teeth had started to ‘crowd’ again. They said the work was so shoddy I should consider legal action. They also said that a tooth had been removed unnecessarily and that it would now need replacing, which would require costly bone-grafting surgery beforehand and an equally costly implant.”

In a bid to get things resolved Gemma then went back to Dr Brunelle on three further occasions to try to close spaces in her lower jaw, but to no avail.

Dr Brunelle ended up ‘doing a runner’ leaving her with fixed braces on and told her the last practice he had been renting a room in would finish the work. With no options left she then arranged to see another dentist in the same New Kings Road practice who noted that after all this time there were still gaps left in her lower jaw and her teeth were worryingly mobile.

It cost Gemma a further £2000 to get to a point where the braces could be removed. The bottom teeth had been pulled so high out of her bottom jaw, irreparably, she will never now have the straight smile she was looking for in the first place.

Gemma now needs remedial treatment to correct the movement on her teeth and will need a bone graft before an implant can be put in position.

Unfortunately for Gemma she can’t get compensation for her ordeal.

Even though Dr Brunelle was insured by one of the largest dental insurers at the time of the treatment from 2007-2011 the insurance company are saying it would break data protection laws for them to get involved without authorisation. Dr Brunelle has not given that permission, has since gone bankrupt and is no longer practising – making it impossible to even bring a civil claim against him.

Gemma says: “I am owed at least £10,000 which is what I have spent on the original treatment, work done to put his mistakes right, and all the procedures needed to fill in the gap left from the wholly unnecessary extraction.

“That does not even begin to cover any compensation which I am owed for wearing painful and ugly fixed metal braces for so many years. I do not have any more money to sort things out.  I am very angry and just can’t understand why I cannot make progress with my claim.”

Dr Brunelle is known to have made a habit of practising from a variety of clinics including three in Harley Street. He also treated people in Glasgow as Gemma has later found out, some of whom have similar stories of inadequate treatment.

“He has taken no responsibility for his actions and I have nowhere to go now. He took the money, really damaged my teeth and ran. I feel robbed.”

It is believed that Dr Brunelle has some connection to a French dental group in Dubai, but he continues to live in the UK, in Chelmsford.

Gemma has given her backing to the Bridge The Gap campaign, which is fighting for justice in these cases www.btgcampaign.co.uk.

While European legislation is due in October this year, which looks likely to make sure that all dental practitioners are insured by law, insurance companies can still be unco-operative.

Bridge The Gap spokesperson Chris Dean said: “We will fight on for that particular obligation which is about doing the right thing for patients and ensuring they have access to justice.”

Gemma will continue her own personal crusade against Dr Brunelle. “It is a trail of misery and he should be made to pay.”