Experienced Indianapolis Attorneys for Dental Claims & Injuries
Dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, dental hygienists and other dental professionals owe their patients the same duty of care that medical professionals owe to their patients. Dental malpractice can occur when a dental professional fails to properly treat, fails to perform a timely or correct diagnosis, or causes injury to a patient as a result of their actions. Failure to inform the patient of the available treatment options along with the associated risks and benefits can also be considered an example of Indiana dental malpractice.
Failure to Diagnose
People typically visit the dentist for routine procedures such as to have their teeth cleaned, to have a cavity filled, or to have a tooth crowned. During these visits, the dentist’s main responsibility is to complete these procedures. However, they also have a duty to the patient to alert them about disease or other maladies that are present while treating them. A patient may have a dental malpractice claim if their dentist fails to recognize and diagnose oral disease while treating them. Minor dental claims (such as an improper filling or root canal relative to one or two teeth) are difficult to pursue due to the length of time these claims take to resolve and the expense of the action.
Dental Malpractice Injuries
Patients can suffer permanent injuries as a result of dental negligence. One common injury from dental malpractice is damage to the lingual nerve. The lingual nerve runs through the tongue and controls the touch, temperature, and taste for the front 2/3 of the tongue. This nerve can suffer damage during the extraction of wisdom teeth. Dental tools or the sharp surface of the tooth can nick or sever the nerve causing permanent damage and a loss of sensation to the tongue.
Injuries to the teeth, mouth, and gums can also occur if a dentist lacks the proper skill to perform complex dental procedures. Permanent injury such as pain and numbness can result in the patient when dental negligence occurs.
Failure to obtain a patient’s informed consent to a procedure can also be a valid claim of dental malpractice. Informed consent involves two main parts. First, the dentist must notify and explain to a patient the treatment options that are available for them which include a discussion of the associated medical facts and risk. Second, the patient needs to indicate their agreement to having the procedure completed. The agreement can be oral or written.
Summary of a Claim
The patient, a woman in her mid-fifties who works at a college, presented to her dentist for porcelain crowns, which she thought would improve her smile. For a two-year period, the patient underwent hours of painful procedures approximately every other weekend to “prepare” her teeth for the crowns. Generally, such work is completed in two weeks. While undergoing the so-called preparations, in which the defendant filed away the tooth enamel and used a laser to cut away the gums, the patient wore false teeth prepared by the dentist that did not fit. These ill-fitting false teeth left a gap between the patient’s exposed gum line and her real teeth. This allowed bacteria to eat away at her teeth which were missing the protective enamel. These false teeth also created a “whistling” sound when the patient talked because of their improper fit. The patient eventually went to another dentist, where she learned that the defendant had damaged her teeth to the point that crowns were no longer an option. Instead, she required tooth extraction, bone grafts into her jaws, and dental implants to replace the teeth that the defendant damaged beyond repair. The repair has been estimated at over $60,000.00, which is not covered by the patient’s dental insurance. Case settled for significant amount.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of dental negligence, you may have an Indiana dental malpractice claim. Our experienced Indianapolis medical and dental malpractice attorneys are available to consult with you regarding your rights and options. We do not charge for your initial consultation and do not collect fees until you are compensated for your claim. Contact us now to discuss your claim. Cohen & Malad, LLP has earned a well-respected reputation as a tough litigation firm in the courtroom and during negotiations and can bring Power to Your Voice.