For many people, no matter their age, going to the dentist is a chore. But as much as you might dread going to the dentist, chances are, you take some comfort in the thought that you’ll receive quality care during your visit. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it goes.
While the definition of dental malpractice varies from one state to the next, it generally involves harm to a patient due to substandard care. This may include anything from failure to diagnose or treat conditions to intentional misconduct. What do you need to prove dental malpractice claim, and how can a dental malpractice lawyer help you?
Elements of a Dental Malpractice Claim
To make a successful case for dental malpractice, there are a few facts the injured patient must establish:
- Provider-Patient Relationship: A dentist-patient relationship must have been established.
- Medical Standard of Care: The medical standard of care refers to the level of care a similarly skilled dentist would have provided given identical circumstances. This is typically established by an expert medical witness who has experience with the procedure in question.
- Breach of Care: You must prove that your dentist caused your injury or made an existing condition worse through their actions or inactions. An expert medical witness can likewise help in establishing specifically how care was breached, such as by outlining which steps should have been taken to prevent the injury.
- Severity of Injury: You’ll need to document the nature and extent of your injury.
Examples of Dental Malpractice
Even routine procedures can go awry if your dentist doesn’t meet their standard of care. Some of the most common examples of dental malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose conditions such as gum disease, oral cancer, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
- Improper extractions, which may lead to TMJ disorders, severed nerves, or fractures of the jaw
- Failure to adequately treat complications such as infections
- Improper administration of anesthesia
- Failure to supervise hygienists and other employees
- Missed diagnosis of conditions such as periodontal disease due to lack of X-rays and other necessary measures
- Failure to plan dental implant treatment, leading to complications
- Performing the incorrect procedure on the patient