Patients place their oral health in the hands of licensed dentists every day of the week. Dentists can perform cosmetic procedures designed to whiten teeth and improve smiles, but they can also fill cavities and prevent gum disease. Dentists who do not do their jobs and do not help their patients may find themselves guilty of negligence or malpractice.
Types of Dental Procedures
Any medical procedure that involves the mouth, jaw or teeth is a type of dental procedure. Fillings are one of the most typical of those proceedings. The dentist will remove decay and damaged areas of the teeth before filling the tooth with a resin or metal material. Dentists can also perform tooth extractions, which is when the dentist removes a tooth. Many of these procedures require that patients receive laughing gas or a numbing agent to make them feel more relaxed and lessen their pain. Extracting a tooth may need that the dentist cut through the gum line and remove broken teeth hidden inside the gum.
Side Effects of Oral Surgery
Pain and inflammation are two side effects of oral surgery. Depending on the type of surgery, these side effects will lessen after a few days or up to one week. Some patients might find that their incisions continue bleeding and that their pain worsens. Other issues can arise during the procedure itself. If the dentist administers too much laughing gas, it can cause some swelling of the brain and other matters that require surgery or other treatments to fix.
Neglect on the Part of the Dentist
Dentists are guilty of neglect in several different ways. The first is physical neglect, which is when a dentist leaves a patient unattended. This may occur when the patient is a type of anesthesia or when the dentist allows someone without a medical license to perform the procedure, including a dental assistant or a dental hygienist. Neglect can also relate to cases where a patient feels the dentist did not do everything possible to assist him or her. For example, a patient might file a lawsuit after a dentist did not inform the patient that he or she had more serious cavities that required a root canal.
Dental Malpractice Cases
The difference between a negligence case and a malpractice case is simple. A malpractice case involves an error on the part of the doctor, while a negligence case involves neglect from that physician. Malpractice cases often include the medications that dentists prescribe to patients. Those patients may experience unexpected side effects or find that the drugs interact with those they currently take. Dental malpractice cases can also arise from an error that occurs in the office or operating room, including a dentist removing the wrong tooth or not providing enough anesthesia, which can leave the patient awake and in intense pain.
How to Avoid Malpractice Cases
Research is the best way for patients to avoid malpractice cases. There are many professional organizations that give patients information about the licenses and experience that local dentists have. Patients can also read online reviews to find out how former patients felt working with specific dentists. Dentists give patients a significant amount of literature to read and sign before going through an examination or an individual procedure. Those who read this information carefully can make an informed decision about what they want to be done to their teeth and become more aware of the risk factors and side effects associated with dental procedures.