Having dental work done isn’t as feared as it once was due to better technologies and medications, but many people still dread going to the dentist—and rightfully so. Tooth extractions, fillings, root canals, crowns, bridges, implants, braces and any type of oral surgery is often associated with pain, and pain is the main reason why people want to avoid the dentist.
Although dental work isn’t as painful as it once was, even routine procedures can end up causing a patient lifelong complications. When pain or injuries occur during a dental visit or oral surgery, it is possible that dental malpractice could have occurred.
What Is Dental Malpractice?
Dental malpractice is defined as a dentist, oral surgeon, orthodontist, periodontist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant providing sub-standard care to a patient that results in harm. Dentists and those who practice dental medicine are required to provide patients a certain level of care, just as physicians do. In fact, they have a duty to comply with the conventional standard of care when providing dental services to patients—meaning that they need to provide care at the same level another prudent dentist in the area would provide under the same set of circumstances. If they fail to do so and harm occurs as a result, patients have the right to file medical malpractice lawsuits against their dentists.
However, not every instance of pain or poor care will constitute as dental malpractice. In fact, dental malpractice is very rare, but it does occur as a result of negligence when dental care falls below an acceptable level.
Examples of Dental Malpractice
The many types of dental negligence include:
- Failing to extract teeth correctly.
- Injuring nerves during a procedure or surgery.
- Failing to administer anesthesia correctly.
- Placing dental implants in the wrong place.
- Failing to refer to a specialist.
- Not diagnosing oral conditions such as oral cancer and gum disease.
- Failing to care for complications, such as infections.
- Injuring patients during procedures (e.g., fracturing a patient’s jaw).
Although dental malpractice is uncommon, it’s very real. A patient can suffer injuries to his jaw, chin, tongue and lips. While some injuries may be temporary, such as a temporary loss of taste, other injuries may cause a patient intense pain and even a lasting loss of function. When someone sustains a jaw injury or nerve injury as a result of dental negligence, it can make eating, talking, or kissing extremely difficult. As a result, every aspect of someone’s life can change in an instant.
Whether someone suffered a nerve injury or experienced pain or a permanent injury or disfigurement because of dental negligence, a dental malpractice lawsuit should be pursued in order to seek justice.
Establishing Dental Malpractice
As we stated earlier, dental professionals have a duty to uphold the conventional standard of care. When they fail to do so, a breach of duty occurs. In order to prove a dental malpractice case, a clear breach in the standard of care would need to be proven (e.g., removing the wrong tooth). But even in not-so-clear cases, it is possible to prove that a breach of duty occurred with the help of an attorney who retains the right medical expert.
Proving a breach of duty is just the first step in a valid dental malpractice case. It’s also necessary to show that an injury occurred. This could be a new injury or a condition that was made worse by a dentist’s negligent actions. Again, with the help of an attorney and testimony by a medical expert, dental malpractice may be established.
Proving Your Case
If you have suffered pain, injuries, or disfigurement as a result of dental negligence, we would be honored to help you hold the wrongdoer accountable. We have the experience you are looking for and can answer your questions in a free, no-obligation consultation. Please call us or contact us online today.