Just like all other healthcare professionals, dentists have a duty to provide their patients with the best possible care. Unfortunately, dentists don’t always uphold that duty.
When dentists’ negligence causes their patients to suffer injuries or harm, their patients can sue them for medical malpractice—in this case, dental malpractice.
If you were harmed by a dentist, here’s what you need to know.
What Are the Common Types of Dental Malpractice?
Dentists can commit medical malpractice in many different ways. They can:
- Damage patients’ gums and teeth
- Fail to diagnose oral health problems, including cancer
- Fail to inform patients of the risks and side effects of procedures
- Fail to sterilize their equipment, which can cause serious infections
- Fail to take proper precautions with patients who have conditions such as hemophilia, diabetes, COPD, and others
- Give patients too much or too little anesthesia before a procedure
- And many more
How Does Dental Malpractice Happen?
One of the most common reasons that dentists commit dental malpractice is because they rush through patients to see as many as possible in a single day. Many dentists own their own practices, and to maximize profits, they may book as many patients as possible per day.
In many dental practices, dentists spend only a few minutes with each patient, leaving most of the examination and cleaning process up to dental hygienists. When dentists rush through examinations, they can miss the signs and symptoms of serious oral health problems.
And when dentists have patients that require them to be more hands-on, they may still try to get through their appointments as quickly as possible to see their next patients. When dentists don’t take their time and give patients the care and attention they deserve, they can make big mistakes that can seriously injure or harm their patients.
Dental Hygienists Can Also Commit Dental Malpractice
At typical checkup and cleaning appointments, patients spend far more time with hygienists than their dentists. Hygienists have many duties, including reviewing dental and health history, checking teeth for signs of decay or disease, cleaning teeth, taking X-rays, educating patients on oral health, and more.
Although dentists are sued far more often than hygienists, hygienists can be sued for dental malpractice in certain situations. Examples include:
- Failing to review or update patients’ medical and dental history
- Failing to detect abnormalities inside patients’ mouths and alert the dentists of them
- Injuring patients while performing cleanings and other routine procedures
Endodontists Can Commit Dental Malpractice
If you have problems with your teeth that your dentist can’t fix, you may be required to see an endodontist. Endodontists specialize in diagnosing problems inside teeth, treating tooth pain, and performing root canals.
Endodontists can commit medical malpractice if they fail to diagnose problems inside teeth or make negligent mistakes while performing root canals. One of the most common negligent mistakes involves endodontists failing to clean out the inside of teeth during root canals, which can lead to infection, loss of tooth, and even loss of bone in the jaw.
Oral Surgeons Can Commit Dental Malpractice
Unlike most dentists and endodontists, oral surgeons are dentists who are also medical doctors. That means they can perform services beyond what dentists and endodontists provide, including complex tooth extractions (primarily wisdom teeth and impacted teeth), tissue biopsies, tumor removals, jaw surgeries, reconstructive surgeries, and more.
Dentists often refer their patients to oral surgeons for these services, and oral surgeons can commit medical malpractice in the same way that surgeons who work on other parts of the body can.
- Operate on the wrong part of the mouth
- Remove the wrong tooth
- Negligently cause patients to develop infections
- Negligently cause patients to bleed excessively
- Damage nerves when operating or extracting teeth
- Fail to prepare patients for post-operative recovery
- And more
Our Oklahoma Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help if You Were Harmed
People don’t always view tooth-related problems as being as serious as other health issues. The same goes for when patients are harmed by dentists, endodontists, and oral surgeons. But problems with your teeth and jaws can seriously impact many aspects of your life. If you were harmed by an oral health professional, you know how painful, debilitating, and costly these conditions can be.
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma medical malpractice attorneys want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us anytime for a free case review. You owe us nothing for your consultation, and you’ll never see a bill from us unless we get money for you.