When Dentists Are Responsible for Infections

Let’s face it, dental work, especially when it is invasive, carries a risk of infection. Although most of us remain perfectly healthy after visiting the dentist, a small percentage of patients end up with painful, even life-threatening infections. While not all such infections are the dentist’s fault, some of them do result from negligence that reaches the level of malpractice. If you are one of the unfortunate victims of dental malpractice, you are legally entitled to compensation for your medical costs, the ordeal you have been put through, and all related expenses. 

Dental malpractice is difficult to prove so it is imperative that you consult with an attorney who specializes in dental malpractice. Because there are elements unique to this type of malpractice, working with a skilled lawyer who focuses only on dental cases is important. like Lance Ehrenberg of Dental & Podiatry Malpractice of New York more than fills the bill.

Types of Dental Infections that May Be the Result of Dental Malpractice

Though severe dental infections are not terribly common, they can be very serious, leading to cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, kidney disease, and complications affecting pregnancy and childbirth. Such infections can also worsen pre-existing conditions like diabetes. Types of dental infections you may have contracted due to dental negligence include:

  • Root canal infections
  • Medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw
  • Periodontal and implant infections
  • Abscesses

Though rare, there are documented cases of infections like these, particularly abscesses, leading to brain abscesses or sepsis, either of which may be fatal.

How Negligence by Your Dentist May Lead to Infections

There are several ways your dentist’s negligence may greatly increase your risk of developing an infection, including:

  • Not asking you about pre-existing medical conditions or surgeries that make you especially vulnerable to infection nor prescribing prophylactic antibiotics
  • Not cleaning your mouth properly
  • Not noticing signs of prior infection before beginning to work on you
  • Using improperly sterilized instruments during examination or dental procedures
  • Using improperly sterilized water sources
  • Having otherwise unsanitary conditions in his/her office

Whether you were aware of a troubling condition at the time of treatment or only recognized the dental negligence in retrospect, if you developed a serious infection related to your dental care, you may be able to collect substantial damages.

Does my dentist have to take special precautions during the coronavirus pandemic?

With such a virulent, highly contagious virus circulating, dentists, like other healthcare providers, are required to follow specific guidelines. Their instructions are provided by the American Dental Association (ADA) and include:

  • Allowing as few patients as possible into the office at the same time
  • Having all staff members wear masks and change masks between patients
  • Asking all patients questions regarding international travel, exposure, and symptoms
  • Taking the temperatures of all patients and staff members 
  • Having patients rinse with 1.5 percent hydrogen peroxide prior to treatment 
  • Cleaning and disinfecting public areas (e.g. door handles, counters, bathrooms) frequently

If you have been infected with COVID-19 shortly after visiting the dentist and your dentist did not take all necessary precautions, you may have a viable case of malpractice. The only way to find out if you do is to contact a well-credentialed and highly respected dental malpractice attorney.

What It Takes to Prove Dental Malpractice

Proving dental malpractice requires knowledge and experience. A savvy dental malpractice attorney must prove that your dentist owed you a duty of care and breached that duty. In addition, he/she must prove that you suffered harm (in this case an infection) and that this harm was directly linked to your dentist’s negligence. 

Though it may be difficult to prove fault, a sharp attorney will investigate your medical and dental records, all data pertaining to any previous complaints against your dentist, and consult with dental experts who may be able to testify on your behalf.

What damages may I be awarded if my dental malpractice attorney wins my case?

If your dental malpractice attorney wins your case, you may obtain damages to cover all medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and any other expenses resulting from your infection. You won’t have to lay out any money in advance of litigation — a legitimate dental malpractice attorney like Lance Ehrenberg will not charge you any attorneys’ fees until you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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.