Dental Malpractice Frequently Asked Questions

What is dental malpractice?

Dental Malpractice is where the dental patient suffers injury as a result of negligence or failing to meet the standard of care on the part of the dentist or dental provider.

How do I know if I have a dental malpractice case?

The patient would need to consult with an attorney and/ or with a dentist.

What are some examples of dental malpractice?

Some examples of potential dental malpractice would be injury to nerves causing numbness or pain, failed root canals that are not addressed, fracture of the jaw or displacement of the jaw causing what's called temporomandibular joint dysfunction, ill-fitting crowns, failure on the part of the dentist to be vigilant in the treatment of decay.

What kind of documentation do I need to prove a dental malpractice case?

The attorney would need the dental records and bills from the dentist along with records from other dentists that have treated the patient.

What procedures can be considered a dental malpractice case?

See the answer to #3

What do I do if my dentist denies responsibility for my problem or injury?

The patient should contact an attorney and possibly get a second opinion.

Am I able to pursue a dental malpractice case if I signed a waiver or consent form?

Yes, you can still pursue a dental malpractice case since the practitioner cannot waive negligence.

What is a TMJ injury?

A TMJ injury is a temporomandibular joint injury where the joints that join the jaw to the skull have been displaced and the patient often has clicking when opening or closing his or her mouth and pain in these areas.

How do TMJ and jaw issues occur?

These can occur from trauma, from dislocation of the jaw and other causes.

How do I know if my TMJ or jaw issue case can be pursued?

Consult with an attorney and/or another dentist.

How do I know if I have a dental infection?

This can be determined by way of dental examination, x-rays and presence of pain or pus.

What are the effects of a dental infection if left untreated?

Dental infections left untreated can lead to the need for root canals and extraction of the tooth if the tooth has been too badly damaged by the infection.

Is there a statute of limitations for dental infection cases?

As with any medical or dental malpractice case, there is a 1 year statute of limitations. The question as to when this one year period begins is more complex and needs to be discussed with an attorney.

How can I tell if I have a failed implant?

Again this would include undergoing x-ray studies and examination by a dentist. There may also be symptoms such as pain.

How can I tell if my root canal treatment failed?

The patient would need to consult with a dentist and undergo radiology studies.

Can I file a lawsuit for a bad root canal?

It would depend on the case. As many as 50% of root canals that are performed fail, so just having a failed root canal is not necessarily the basis for a lawsuit.

My mouth is still numb after my dental procedure-could this be a nerve injury?

It could be a nerve injury. It depends on the symptoms and in particular the time frame in which the numbness continues.

What types of dental nerve injury could I be experiencing?

There can be numbness and there can also be pain and loss of motor or sensory function.

What procedures can cause dental nerve injuries?

Extraction of teeth is one of the main ones.

How long does it take for Novocain to wear off?

It usually takes 1-5 days for Novocain to wear off.

How can I tell if I have an injury resulting from Novocain use?

If you have the numbness and lack of sensation for a lengthy period of time there may be a nerve injury.

Can I be allergic to anesthetics?

This is possible. Be sure to inform the treating dentist of any and all drug reactions or sensitivities you have had prior to his treatment.