When Can I Sue My Dentist ?

suing your dentist

For many people going to the dentist is a very scary experience and plucking up the courage to get into the dentist’s chair often takes a lot of trust in your dentist.

But what happens in the unfortunate circumstance that your fears come true and your dentist makes a mistake?

The answer is that you may have a legal claim that entitles you to compensation.

Most people often think that medical negligence just refers to the circumstance where a doctor makes a mistake treating a patient during surgery. But the term medical negligence is much broader than this and includes treatment provided by a dentist.

Just like doctors, dentists owe a duty of care to all their patients. They must ensure that not only is the treatment being suggested appropriate but also that the treatment or procedure is performed with appropriate care and skill.

Unfortunately, dental negligence claims are becoming increasingly more common and what we are seeing is that a simple dental mistake can have very significant consequences for the patient involved.

In what circumstance does a dental claim arise?

The most common type of dental claims relate to the use of dental implants. If these implants are not inserted correctly or the appropriate type of implant is not used, for example, a mini implant is inappropriately used, they may continually fall out and even compromise the gum and bone in the mouth. Once the gum and bone become compromised the patient may not be able to have any other implants inserted and may be left with the option of either a denture or no teeth at all.

There are a number of other complications that may arise as a result of the negligent insertion of implants, including oral infections, pain, inability to eat solid foods and even a change in the way the patient may chew food, which can in circumstances result in disorders of the joints in the jaw.

Issues with implants are not the only types of claims that we see. A simple removal of a tooth in elderly patients can also be quite a risky procedure because they are often suffering from other health conditions or receiving other treatment. In these circumstances, there are often specific procedures that need to occur before the dentist is able to remove the tooth.

For example, if a patient has had radiation treatment in the past to the mouth and jaw area, it is very important that before any teeth are removed that the patient undergoes hyperbaric treatment of the jaw.

We have a claim where the dentist removed a tooth without this treatment having occurred and our client developed a condition called osteoradionecrosis of the jaw. This is a terrible condition where the bone dies in the jaw and as a result, our client is no longer able to eat and has to be fed through a tube in his stomach, he also has difficulty talking and is in constant pain.

What type of compensation can I receive?

From the examples explained above it is clear that dental mistakes can have very serious consequences and this may mean that the injured person is entitled to significant compensation.

Compensation may include damages for:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Out of pocket expenses;
  • Any time off work required because of the injury; and
  • Medical expenses into the future.

Where to from here?

If you believe that your dentist has made a mistake and you are now suffering because of it, we suggest that you seek legal advice so that any entitlement to compensation can be pursued.

Dental claims are a specialized area of medical negligence so we suggest that you contact a firm that has expertise in this area.

If you believe this area of law applies to you we would suggest you contact our medical negligence team at Henry Carus + Associates for a free consultation to discuss your potential claim.