Many people fear going to the dentist — but there should be no actual threat of harm from sitting down in that chair. Unfortunately, dental malpractice is surprisingly frequent.
According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, between 2004 and 2014 there were 16,854 malpractice claims paid out on behalf of U.S. dentists and 13,455 reports of other serious treatment issues that did not lead to a malpractice claim.
Injuries related to dental care can lead to serious complications and cause significant pain and suffering, both short-term and, in some cases, for years after.
Some of the most common dental malpractice claims involve:
- Failure to diagnose oral cancer: A dentist may not screen properly for oral cancers, missing, for example, a sore on the tongue or in the mouth that could be the early sign of a tumor.
- Anesthesia errors: These can be situations in which a dentist does not use enough anesthesia, causing severe pain and possibly mental and emotional trauma, or where too much sedation is used, leading to possible brain damage, stroke, coma, and even death.
- Extraction complications: A dentist’s negligence during an extraction can result in excessive bleeding, infection, and even permanent nerve damage. Dentists have also faced malpractice claims for extracting the wrong tooth.
- Injuries to the tongue, jaw, or sinuses: During the course of any dental work, a negligent dentist may injure a patient’s tongue, jaw, or sinuses. This can be the result of a slipped drill or perforation from another instrument. In rare cases negligent dental work can cause sinus perforations or air embolisms.
- Dental appliances: An ill-fitting or badly designed dental appliance (such as crowns, bridges, implants, or dentures) can cause pain, bleeding, and infection or even permanent injury
- Missed or improper diagnosis: If a dentist misses the early signs of gum disease or tooth decay, there can be serious long-term problems. Malpractice claims have also been filed in cases of misdiagnosis by dentists.
Going to the dentist is meant to be a routine and safe experience, but that’s not always the case. If you have been injured due to a dentist’s negligence, the attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Medical Malpractice Litigation Group are ready to discuss your case.