When Is Your Dentist Responsible for the Failure of Dental Implants?

No matter how well-trained or experienced a dentist is, he or she can make a mistake. When that mistake is due to negligence — such as faulty preparation, incorrect diagnosis, or inattention to detail– it may constitute dental malpractice. While dental implants can fail for a number of reasons unrelated to your prosthodontist’s competence or performance, some failures are the dentist’s fault and the law requires accountability. 

If you have been the victim of a failed dental implant caused by your dentist’s negligence, Lance Ehrenberg, Esq. of Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York has the skills and determination to file a malpractice lawsuit and fight vigorously to seek justice on your behalf. You should be reassured by the fact that he has 35 years of experience in personal injury law and a solid history of successful outcomes.

What exactly is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a metal post that’s surgically attached to the jaw bone to support an artificial tooth. First, the dentist puts the implant post in place; then she or he mounts the replacement tooth on that post. Although dental implants are generally highly successful, it is estimated that from 5 to 10 percent of dental implants fail, either soon after the procedure is performed or, in some cases, months or years later.

Common Types of Dental Malpractice that May Cause Implant Failure

There are multiple ways a dentist can violate the duty of care owed to his or her patients, including: 

  • Misdiagnosing and therefore mistreating the patient
  • Failing to take (or pay attention to) the patient’s medical history and/or any pre-existing conditions
  • Failing to explain any risks involved with the procedure to be performed or failing to get the patient’s informed consent
  • Miscalculating  the amount of anesthesia or dosage of medication necessary
  • Failing to use appropriate and properly sterilized instruments
  • Failing to provide follow-up care or to recognize an incipient infection or disease

If your dentist’s treatment of you falls into one of these categories, you may have a viable dental malpractice lawsuit, regardless of whether your implants failed.

When Your Dentist’s Negligence Directly Caused Your Implant Failure

Placing dental implants is a delicate procedure that requires an experienced general dentist, periodontist, or oral surgeon. This is because it is imperative that the dentist use the proper number of implants to support tooth replacement. If too few implants are used, there may be excessive stress on the implant, resulting in a failed implant.

You may be interested to know that when a dentist violates the Hippocratic Oath — “First do no harm” — it is known as an iatrogenic trauma, a disease or symptoms induced in the patient by the medical professional. If you have suffered the extreme physical, emotional, and perhaps financial pain caused by a failed dental implant, you surely understand why the word “trauma” is used in this context.

Reasons Dental Implants Fail in General

There are a number of reasons dental implant surgery may be unsuccessful, even if the dentist uses extreme care during the procedure itself. These include the fact that the patient:

  • Has gum disease
  • Is a smoker (smokers have an implant failure rate of up to 20 percent)
  • Does not have sufficient jaw bone to hold the posts (e.g. due to osteoporosis)
  • Has an autoimmune disease (e.g. diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Is taking certain medications, prescribed or over-the-counter, that reduce bone growth (e.g medications to prevent or relieve heartburn or some antidepressants)
  • Does not practice good oral hygiene
  • Failure to do bone grafting and allow the bone grafting enough time to heal
  • Failure to take appropriate radiology studies
  • Failure to have the patient cease smoking before and after the treatment

In spite of the fact that these causes of dental implant failure are not your dentist’s fault per se, the dentist may still be held accountable if your medical history was not taken or not paid attention to, or if you were not informed of your personal risks before the procedure.

If You’ve Had a Traumatic Experience with Failed Dental Implants, Contact Us 

At Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York, we know just how difficult it is to fight a dental malpractice case. We are fully prepared to leverage our comprehensive knowledge of dental malpractice law and our litigation skill against the clout of the dental lobby. We will do everything in our power to protect your rights.

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.