A dentist who failed to treat the severely decaying teeth of a pensioner for four years committed serious failings amounting to misconduct, a dental committee decided.
Hinal Mahendra Patel, the principal dentist at Epsom Dental Care, in Dorking Road, Epsom, had 11 conditions imposed on his practice for two years with immediate effect, at a hearing of the General Dental Council’s professional conduct committee on February 7.
The committee found all but two of the 21 charges against Mr Patel to be proven.
These included failing to take radiographs, poor record keeping and failing to assess, treat and monitor the presence of caries - a bacterial infection also known as tooth decay.
The committee’s report said: "Many of the failures in this case were basic and repeated over a sustained period of time.
"You failed to adhere to basic guidelines or protocols of dental practices, even though you were aware that you should have followed such guidance."
The affected patient, a woman in her 60s who wishes to remain anonymous, was seen by him 14 times between 2008 and 2012, but it was only in March 2012 when he took an x-ray of her teeth, on her request, that severe decay was revealed.
She said: "I was leaving each appointment thinking I had been given a clean bill of health when in fact my teeth were rotting in my head.
"The decay was going completely undetected. It is scandalous.
"He is an absolute menace to the public."
She is now having extensive restorative treatment from a private specialist, which she estimates will cost her £9,000.
The woman said she now has big gaps in her mouth which affect her smile and she can only chew on one side of her mouth.
She added: "I am very angry and upset about this damage that has been done to me by a dentist who should have been caring for me. I feel thoroughly neglected.
"It’s too late for me but I want people to be warned and to check the state of their teeth if they had appointments with Mr Patel.
"I would still have my teeth if it wasn’t for Mr Patel, and he’s a dentist.
"Never mind the fancy fish tank in the surgery, it really is the quality of the care."
But the committee did not consider it necessary to suspend Mr Patel to protect the public.
It said he explained that ineffective management of appointment bookings, not receiving the expected level of support from other dentists when he took over the practice in 2008, and not seeking support from colleagues and organisations when that happened led to the shortcomings.
At the time of the hearing he had employed another dentist to help out with his patients, had not taken on any new patients and said he did not intend to.
In its report, the committee said: "You have some insight into the deficiencies in your professional practice and are taking positive steps to address them.
"Nevertheless your remediation is still at an early stage and you need further time in which to complete this process."
The conditions imposed on him include that he must continue working with a postgraduate dean or director on a personal development plan and allow a reporter to provide reports to the GDC on his work.
Responding to the Epsom Guardian in a statement, Mr Patel said: "I am sorry that the treatment did not go as we both would have wished and I accept the decision by the GDC.
"Although I cannot comment specifically about individual cases due to patient confidentiality, the welfare of my patients is always my first concern."