If a dentist makes a mistake it can be dental malpractice.  If the mistake falls outside of the acceptable standard of care and causes injury and damages, it could give rise to a malpractice claim.

What do those terms mean? The standard of care refers to the degree and manner of treatment that the community of dentists practicing in the same field of dentistry consider reasonable and prudent.

Mistakes Made by Dentists

The types of mistakes made by dentists that are the basis for dental malpractice claims include:

Performing the Wrong Procedure

If a dentist performs the wrong procedure or oral surgery that was not consented to, or performs it on the wrong tooth or area in your mouth, you may be harmed. Documentation in the record of a patient, which is required to be kept by dental professionals, can prove to be evidentiary in these types of dental malpractice claims.

Error in Records or Mistakes in X-Ray

Errors can occur when a dentist uses the wrong x-ray or the records from the wrong person to guide a surgical procedure. A dentist should only work on those teeth designated in the agreed treatment plan.

Poorly Performed Procedures

If a dentist makes a mistake in filling a root canal, it can result in an overfill. This can allow the material to be forced into an area that it wasn’t meant to go, resulting in a dental nerve injury. If a dentist’s action causes a broken jaw or an infection results from a dirty dental tool, liability may be the dentist’s. If the dentist leaves behind a missed root during an extraction, the dentist may be at fault for the injury.

Missed or Undiagnosed Conditions

Oral cancers that are missed by dentists are often a cause for dental malpractice claims. Cancer misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis is a mistake that is avoidable – oral cancer screenings should be routine. Follow up for suspected cancers should be thorough, including referral to a specialist when necessary. Failing to provide appropriate referrals and failure to treat known conditions are red flags for negligent dental practices.

Infections or Infectious Disease

Mistakes that should not go unnoticed by dentists are missed infections that lead to complications, or cause osteomyelitis (bone infection). Ludwig’s angina is a complication that can be fatal if infection is not treated. This type of mistake can cause hospitalization or even dental wrongful death.

Not Making Referrals

In some cases, the mistake made by a dentist is failing to refer a patient to a dental specialist like an oral surgeon, endodontist or periodontist. When dentists conduct oral surgery but do not refer a patient for blood tests, or to have surgical pre-qualification testing done, these are mistakes that can lead to malpractice claims.

It’s important to remember that not every dental mistake is malpractice, but when the treatment doesn’t meet the standard of care, dentistry errors can result in consequences for patients that should be considered for a legal claim.

My Dentist Made a Mistake – Now What?

How to get a dental malpractice attorney to take your case

If your dentist made a mistake and it has caused you injury and damages, you may have a dental malpractice claim. Wallace Wason, PLLC offers a free case evaluation to determine if the dentist’s mistake is a malpractice claim. Get started without delay – contact us today.

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