Like any medical professional, dentists are also capable of making errors when treating their patients. While they don’t operate on a large portion of the body, dental surgical errors as well as other mistakes are quite possible.
Dental malpractice can take many of the same forms that medical malpractice takes, except with a focus on the mouth and jaw. Dentists are usually working hard to make sure that their patients are well cared for, but there are far too many mistakes that could have been prevented. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 1 out of every 7 medical malpractice cases directly involves a dental malpractice issue.
Medical malpractice lawyers are familiar with the painful consequences of dental malpractice. They believe that dental professionals should be held accountable for their negligent and reckless actions.
Types of Dental Malpractice
Dental malpractice can happen in a variety of ways. Although it does not seem quite as obvious as some other forms of medical malpractice, dental malpractice can be lethal. It is especially important that all of the people involved handle their work with the utmost care and regard for patient safety. Some of the most common forms of dental error include:
- Failure to detect oral problems
- Improper use of tools
- Use of faulty materials or products
- Injury to bone or surrounding tissue
- Anesthesia errors
A dentist is charged with preventing serious dental problems through routine cleanings and regular treatment. During these routine events, any dentist or hygienist is expected to inspect the soft tissues of the mouth at the same time. This is done to detect oral cancers as well as other diseases of the mouth. If the inspection is not performed adequately, a dentist may miss the early stages of cancer, allowing the disease to progress.
Other times a dentist can be overzealous in removing a tooth and actually remove some of the bone with it. This not only is excessive but can result in the individual having a gap in his or her teeth permanently. It is much more difficult to put in a solid tooth replacement when there is no bone into which it can be anchored.
Dental surgery can result in just as many errors as surgery on any other part of the body. While it is difficult to leave instruments behind in the surgical site, improper sutures and operating on the wrong part of the mouth are just as likely to occur. In addition, pharmaceutical errors and problems with anesthesia can complicate matters further.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction and Dental Malpractice
If wisdom teeth grow in fully, they can create a number of serious dental problems. Crooked teeth, chronic jaw pain, and difficulty chewing are just some of the adverse effects of delaying wisdom teeth removal.
The removal of wisdom teeth is a routine procedure for dental surgeons. A majority of Americans will need this procedure at some point in their lives. However, not all wisdom teeth extractions go smoothly. If you have experienced one or more of the following complications after your surgery, you may be a victim of dental malpractice:
- Prolonged bleeding
- Nerve injuries
- Crooked teeth
- Dry sockets
- Chronic pain
These injuries can result in costly medical bills and lost wages. By taking legal action, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses.
Signs of a Bad Dentist
Choosing a dentist can be a difficult decision, and thorough research should be done before settling on a dental professional. However, information from the internet or word or mouth may not reflect the quality of care at a dental office. As such, when going to a dentist’s office, it is important to know what issues should cause concern and arouse suspicion.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Lots of people come through a dentist’s office in a single day, meaning that many germs are brought in with them. Therefore a dentist office needs to be consistently cleaned. This takes a lot of work on the part of the dentist and office staff. These obligations may be overlooked in a bad dentist’s office. This is never acceptable, no matter how much time and energy it takes to maintain a clean, sanitary environment. If you have noticed any of the following in your dentist’s office, it may be a sign that you are seeing an irresponsible dentist:
- An unorganized, cluttered environment
- Unclean equipment
- A dentist or any support staff members who are not wearing gloves
Ignoring the hygiene of the office can result in serious illnesses for the patients. If any of the above applies to your dentist’s office you need to consider changing dentists.
Cause for Concern
Some dental procedures will result in pain that is completely normal. However, if you experience prolonged periods of pain, or extremely intense pain after a minor procedure, you should rightfully be concerned. Signs that a dentist failed to do his or her job correctly include:
- Performing procedures or moving forward with treatment without your consent
- Irregular bleeding
- Chronic pain
- Loss of fillings
If you have experienced these ailments following a dentist appointment, it should raise a red flag, and you should address your concerns with a dental malpractice attorney.