Though medical malpractice is frequently discussed, dental negligence scarcely is. Nonetheless, many dental patients suffer problems after dental work that they may not even be aware were caused by poor dental diagnosis or treatment. You may have an acute or chronic problem that is the result of dental negligence and not realize the connection. If dental mistakes or misconduct have led to a serious injury, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for your medical bills as well as your pain and suffering.
If you suspect that you or a family member has been misguided or mistreated by a dentist — whether a general dentist or an endodontist, a periodontist, an orthodontist, a prosthodontist or an oral surgeon — and been harmed as a result, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in dental malpractice.
Which types of dental malpractice are most common?
More than a quarter of all dental malpractice cases are tied to extractions. A sizable subset of these result from infections following tooth extraction; in a few, there have been patient fatalities. Imagine dying or being permanently injured by having a tooth pulled!
Other kinds of problems that may result from botched dental procedures are:
- Nerve damage that may manifest in loss of sensation or paresthesia (pins and needles). Nerve damage may take a long time to heal or remain a chronic problem.
- Perforations of the sinuses, resulting in long-lasting sinus infection.
- Incorrect administration of anesthesia may cause nerve damage by “hitting a nerve.” It may also result in high blood pressure, swelling, gum lesions or other soft tissue damage, allergic reaction, altered breathing, brain damage or systemic toxicity.
In some cases, such aftereffects may be caused by an unknown underlying patient condition in which case the dentist may not be responsible. On the other hand, if your dentist neglected to take a thorough medical history or administered anesthesia incorrectly (e.g. at the wrong dosage level, especially to a child), you may have a strong case of dental malpractice.
Also, if your dentist broke a tool in your mouth which then injured you through puncture, being partially left inside your mouth, or being inadvertently swallowed, the dentist is probably liable for damages.
Failure To Diagnose
One common way you may be injured by your dentist is if he or she fails to check for, or recognize signs of, your need for further care. You may have a viable case of dental malpractice
If, in spite of seeing you for regular dental exams, your dentist has failed to diagnose you with one of the following conditions:
- Advancing periodontal (gum) disease
- Severe tooth decay or abscess
- Need for root canal treatment
- Need for tooth extraction
- Oral cancer
It is important to consider whether your dentist bears responsibility for failing to detect an underlying infection or a suspicious lesion in your mouth that has led to severe consequences. Once you are dealing with an emergency hospital admission because of a systemic infection, or reeling from a diagnosis of metastasized cancer, you may not be focused on previous dental care.
Taking a reckoning may, however, be essential if you are to win the settlement you deserve to help you take care of your medical costs and related expenses and to be reimbursed for the trauma you have suffered. Once again, the way to determine whether your dentist is at fault is to consult with a professional dental malpractice attorney.
Failure to Refer: Did your dentist take on too much?
A great number of dental malpractice cases involve general dentists who take on tasks for which they have not been specifically trained. While all dentists have the ability to extract teeth, for example, most tooth extractions should be left to oral surgeons, especially if the tooth in question is broken or beneath the surface. In fact, many cases of dental malpractice are precipitated by dentists who get in over their heads, attempting to do dental work above their level of training.
If you are uncertain about whether your dentist misjudged the severity of your dental problem or failed to refer you to a specialist when necessary, you should contact a skilled and experienced dental malpractice attorney who will evaluate your case at no charge. If it turns out that you have in fact been a victim of dental malpractice, Lance Ehrenberg, Esq. of Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York will charge you no attorneys’ fees until he litigates your case successfully.