general dentist's office

Has Your General Dentist Failed to Refer You to a Specialist?

Many general dentists perform procedures that might be better handled by dental specialists. Though much of the time there is no problem with a tooth extraction or a teeth whitening procedure administered by your general dentist, if something does go seriously wrong, you may need a dental malpractice attorney as well as medical care.  

At Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York, our widely respected dental malpractice attorney, Lance Ehrenberg, Esq., is available for consultation. He will listen to the details of your case and assess the viability of a dental malpractice lawsuit. To file a successful lawsuit, we will have to prove that your dentist did not follow the standard of care of the dental profession. We may be able to do that if your dentist lacked the level of expertise or the appropriate equipment to do the task at hand or to deal with complications that arose. 

General Dentists provide regular patient care, including annual (or more frequent) dental examinations, routine cleanings, and fillings when needed. While most general dentists are quick to refer their patients for specialized care when necessary, some few try to do everything themselves, either because they have a tendency to self-aggrandize or because they are greedy, or both. If you have had the misfortune of being injured by one of these general dentists, you deserve appropriate compensation for your mistreatment.

Dental Specialties

Several dental specialties require advanced training for their practitioners, including:

Pedodontists or Pediatric Dentists specialize in dental care for children and have studied how best to deal with youngsters who are overly anxious, hyperactive, have Tourette’s syndrome, are on the autism spectrum, or have other conditions requiring particular expertise.

Orthodontists specialize in teeth and jaw alignment, using wires, braces, retainers, and other devices to straighten teeth for functional and cosmetic reason

Periodontists treat diseases of the gums. Though general dentists are proactive in preventing gum disease, periodontists provide treatment for tissues already damaged by gum disease progression and perform dental implants.

Endodontists specialize in treating problems in saving teeth. They are highly qualified when it comes to performing root canals and decay around the dental nerves.

Prosthodontists repair teeth and jawbones and perform cosmetic dental procedures, such as teeth whitening and application of veneers. In addition, they fit patients with dentures, crowns, and bridges.

Oral Surgeons perform extractions and various types of operations involving jaw misalignment and bone loss.They also treat chronic diseases or conditions that require surgical procedures.

As you can see, dentistry, like other medical fields, is quite specialized. That’s why it is important to see a dentist who works routinely with the condition that is troubling you. Not only will the specialist have more training in the discipline, but she or he will also have much more experience in problems of the kind you are having.

When the American Dental Association (ADA) Recommends Referrals

According to the ADA, dental patients may require a specialist for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Level of training and experience 
  • Complexity of the necessary treatment
  • Medical complications that have occurred 
  • Medical complications the patient may be at high risk for
  • Access to special equipment and instruments
  • Specially trained assistants 
  • Behavioral concerns, especially with children 

Another factor that may enter into the equation is that the patient may have requested a referral to a specialist. If you did this and were rebuffed by your general dentist, and then suffered an injury, we may have even more leverage in court to claim negligence.

It should also be noted that a general dentist may, on occasion, be held legally responsible for the poor treatment administered by a specialist he or she recommended. For this reason, your dentist should carefully investigate the credentials, background, and reputation of the recommended dentist before making a referral.

Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York Will Stand by You

If you have suffered a faulty root canal, nerve damage, or some other trauma as a result of your general dentist performing a procedure you feel should have been handled by a specialist, call our office for a consultation. We may well be able to win you damages for your medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.