man with a tooth ache

How to Know if You’ve Been the Victim of Dental Malpractice

The world is imperfect, and so are the people who live in it. No matter how many hours a person spends training to perfect their craft, or how much money they spend to become an “expert” in their field, even the most intense training, practice, and polishing of a certain expertise, comes with flaws and oversights that can be devastating to the patient that goes all in with their trust that “doctor knows best.”

Unfortunately, “botched” dental work is something that is a very real concern, and many have suffered from treatments that have gone wrong because, as a society, we put our trust in those who we feel should have a 100% knowledge of the care they are providing. We think because they are professionals, they can do no wrong.

For many who have experienced injury from the hands of their dental provider, it feels like they are stuck in a grey area, and they end up in a state of uncertainty as to how to properly assess the damage and seek legal action.

So what are some of the main points that must be proven in a lawsuit against a dentist?

  • Duty – Your dental provider must owe you a duty. In other words, you are an actual patient of the particular dentist
  • Standard of Care – A patient must be able to prove that their dental provider was responsible and acted below the applicable standard of care. This holds dentist accountable under the assumption that they have the same education and knowledge as any other professional within the same industry, in a similar geographical area
  • Causation – This is where establishing that a negligent act was actually the cause of the injury
  • Damages – Proving that injury or damage incurred. This could result in additional services to fix the mistake are paid for or come in some form of monetary loss, such as embarrassment from tooth loss or other uncorrected physical damage

There are several reasons to call upon professional help due to dental malpractice, which include:

  • Complications from previous dental work
  • Temporary or permanent numbness or loss of taste sensation
  • Crown or bridge complications due to negligence
  • Dental provider fails to take into consideration the patient’s medical history
  • Failure to detect or reveal the presence of oral cancer, periodontal disease, or any other disease
  • Unnecessary extraction of any tooth or teeth
  • Molestation of a patient during sedation
  • Failure to have proper and legal informed consent of treatment
  • Treatment exceeded the agreed on and consented treatment
  • Permanent or temporary injuries to the tongue, jaw, lips, or chin
  • Wrongful death resulting from dental procedures or oral surgeries
  • Injuries (or death) caused by negligent administration of anesthesia
  • Nerve injuries, which affect the patient’s ability to taste or cause permanent damage

If for any reason you suspect malpractice from your dental provider, obtain a copy of your dental records, including any information that may be on their, or your, computer. Any x-rays, progress notes, records of prescriptions, and copies of referral slips are needed to show the history of your treatment. It is recommended to tell your provider that you are requesting such records for a second opinion with future providers, which will give them informed and accurate information pertaining to your dental history.

Documenting and dating each event in a personal journal can help put a realistic timeline to any symptoms that may have occurred or may occur in the future. The more evidence you have, the more credible your dental malpractice claim will be. If you feel you have been the victim of dental malpractice, or have any questions on how to move forward, contact our office today and we can get you started on the right path.