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7 Common Examples of Dental Malpractice

When you go to the dentist, you expect the team to help you feel better and to follow the standards of dentistry. When dental professionals don’t do what they are supposed to, and patients get injured, malpractice may have occurred. Examples of dental malpractice include taking out the wrong tooth, improperly putting in a crown or filling, and not performing a root canal correctly. 

At the Snyder Law Group, our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers are committed to fighting for those hurt by those in the helping professions. Our team provides exceptional support to clients who experience bone loss, facial paralysis, broken jaws, or other injuries because their dental team made a mistake. 

What Is Dental Malpractice?

Dental malpractice is when a dentist, hygienist, technician, or other dental professional makes a serious mistake that harms a patient. For an error to fall under the umbrella of malpractice, the following factors may need to be present:

  • Duty of Care: The dental professional must have owed the patient a duty of care (e.g. because they were treating them). 
  • Breach of Duty of Care: The dental professional must have done something that didn’t follow generally accepted medical principles. 
  • Injury: The patient must show they suffered harm (e.g., nerve damage).
  • Causation: There must be a link between the dental professional’s mistake and the patient’s injury. 

The victim needs to establish each of these elements to have a case. In other words, it’s not enough that the professional made a mistake. Instead, there needs to be a departure from what a reasonable and knowledgeable professional would have done under the circumstances. For example, not checking to see if the patient has a history of adverse reactions to anesthesia might qualify as malpractice. 

What Are Some Common Dental Errors That May Constitute Malpractice? 

Anytime a dental professional makes a serious mistake that harms you, the potential for malpractice is there. For example, the dentist may be liable if they pull the wrong tooth, cause bone loss because of an implant, or incorrectly install a crown. If a dentist’s actions harmed you, consider collaborating with a personal injury attorney. They can investigate your claim, make legal recommendations, and help you file your case before the filing deadline expires. 

1. Improper Extractions

Not pulling the right tooth or not following the proper procedure for extracting a tooth might qualify as malpractice. Additionally, the dentist may be liable if they didn’t give the patient the correct after-extraction instructions. Likewise, not using sterilized materials (e.g., needles or oral equipment) might also constitute malpractice. 

2. Incorrect Root Canals 

If the dental team doesn’t perform a root canal on the right tooth, this is most likely malpractice. Additionally, this may be problematic if the professionals don’t use generally accepted procedures for performing the root canal. 

3. Broken Jaw During Wisdom Teeth Removal 

Pulling a tooth is a significant procedure, but (in most cases) it shouldn’t result in a broken jaw. If your dental team uses excessive force during the process, they may cause your lower jaw to break. Likewise, if they aren’t careful while extracting an impacted wisdom tooth, it can increase the risk of adverse events like a broken jawbone. 

4. Bone Loss From Implants

When you get dental implants, there’s a certain amount of risk to your jaw and teeth. Improperly putting an implant in can result in more bone loss than there may have been if the dentist had done the procedure correctly. Likewise, a dental professional can make a mistake if they give a patient an implant without first determining if they have enough bone to support it. Additionally, malpractice may occur if the dentist incorrectly decides that a patient has sufficient and good-quality bone for the procedure to be safe. 

5. Tooth Decay From Ill-Fitting Crowns

As the Cleveland Clinic explains, a crown’s purpose is to cover and protect a decayed, chipped, or cracked tooth. When fitted correctly, the patient should be able to chew as normal (after the healing period). If the crown doesn’t fit or isn’t installed correctly, bacteria may travel underneath it. As a result, the patient may experience tooth decay or infections. 

6. Misdiagnosis of Oral Cancer 

Dentists are responsible for performing routine checks on patients. Part of this includes screening for cancer, especially if the patient is experiencing issues. If the dentist fails to correctly diagnose cancer or another serious dental condition, it can have life-altering consequences and may qualify as malpractice. 

7. Incorrectly Placing Fillings

As described by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, dentists put in fillings to take the place of cavities in teeth. Incorrectly placed fillings can cause problems, such as damage to or uneven wear of your other teeth. Additionally, fillings that are too large or too small can allow bacteria to get inside the tooth. In turn, this can cause a painful infection that may result in further decay of your teeth. 

What Types of Injuries Can Result From Dental Negligence? 

Dental negligence can cause a host of harm to unsuspecting patients. For example, patients may experience nerve damage, tooth decay, and facial paralysis. Errors that occur during surgery may also cause extensive injuries. 

Nerve Damage

Performing dental procedures requires a specialized level of knowledge and sophistication. When hygienists, technicians, dentists, and others aren’t careful when doing their jobs, they put patients at risk of experiencing nerve damage. For example, the patient may have severe nerve pain or discomfort following a dental injection. This nerve damage may be temporary or, in serious cases, permanent. 

Surgical Injuries 

Surgical errors can result in significant harm to the patient. For example, the dentist may pull the wrong tooth, causing the patient to have additional procedures to correct this mistake and address the original issue. Additionally, the patient may react adversely to the anesthesia or experience bone injuries or breaks. 

Tooth Decay

If dental professionals make mistakes in installing crowns, fillings, or other implants, bacteria may invade the tooth. As a result, the patient’s teeth may experience new or additional decay they hoped to avoid by going through with the procedure in the first place. 

Facial Paralysis

If the dental team unskillfully uses needles or sharp tools on the patient’s face, they may cause paralysis. In some cases, the paralysis may be due to a pinched nerve and may resolve over time. In other situations, the loss of movement of the facial muscles may be permanent. 

How Can You Prove Dental Malpractice Occurred?

How you prove that dental malpractice happened depends on the specific circumstance. You need to show that you have enough evidence to support each of the elements of malpractice. These include proving the dentist owed you a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and caused you harm because of this. 

One way to accomplish this is to gather as much information about what happened as possible. For example, get copies of the dental records and note what happened before and after surgery. If you were awake for the procedure, write down what you remember. For instance, if the team seemed concerned or hesitant about what was happening, this is important to take note of. You can use these and other details to determine if malpractice occurred and how to prove it. 

Snyder Law Group: Helping Dental Malpractice Victims for Over 20 Years

You’re in a vulnerable state when you go to the dentist for routine work or a procedure. You expect your dental team to act reasonably and take care of you. In short, you hope to leave their office in a better position than when you walked in. If your dental team made a serious error that caused you harm, you may be eligible to take legal action against them. 

For decades, the Snyder Law Group has fought for victims of dental malpractice. Michael Snyder has over 20 years of experience in this field. Because of his tireless advocacy, he has earned a spot on the selective Super Lawyers list from 2015 to 2023. 

If your dentist made a mistake that hurt you, contact us today by calling 410-604-8467 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. 

Call 410-THE-FIRM. Don't just sue them. SNYDER THEM

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 at 5:22 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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