Though you may not encounter dental implants very often, more than 3 million people in the U.S. have them, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). These implants aren’t just for senior citizens; people of all ages can require dental implants for one reason or another. Unfortunately, the mouth is an extremely sensitive area, and like any other medical procedure, dental work does not always go as planned. In these situations, a person who has suffered injuries from their dental implants may want to contact a dental malpractice attorney to see if they are owed compensation.
Here is some key information about these implants and what to do when they go wrong.
What Are Dental Implants?
When you hear “dental implants,” you may picture dentures. But while dentures and dental implants are both prosthetic teeth, they differ greatly in that dentures are removable sets of fake teeth, while dental implants are actually drilled into the jaw. (They are not removable, of course.) Ideally, dental implants bond with the jaw and feel very much like natural teeth.
These implants may be necessary not only if one has missing teeth, but if their existing teeth have significant decay, cavities, or are causing gum disease. In these scenarios, a dentist might determine that it’s best to remove the problematic teeth and replace them with implants. But sometimes, this well-intentioned procedure can backfire.
Common Dental Implant Injuries
Replacing teeth is a very serious oral surgery, so it should come as no surprise that dental implants can cause severe injuries if the surgeon or a member of their staff is negligent. These injuries may include:
- Nerve damage, often leading to numbness or pain
- Damaged blood vessels or sinuses
- Damage to surrounding teeth
- Bacterial infection such as peri-implantitis
- Allergic reaction
Examples of Dental Malpractice
Side effects from implants do not necessarily mean that an oral surgeon has committed dental malpractice; an injury may have been unavoidable. What, then, constitutes malpractice? Here are some common examples:
- Failure to diagnose conditions such as gum disease or oral cancer
- Improper administration of anesthesia
- Failure to adequately treat infection (such as peri-implantitis)
- Missed diagnosis of infection
- Poorly planned or botched procedure
- Wrong procedure performed on patient
- Improper hygiene or sterilization
If the doctor failed to live up to the standard of care established by their peers, and the patient was harmed as a result, it could very well be dental malpractice.