How to Really Win a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

How to Really Win a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

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Dental Malpractice Lawsuit
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A few months ago, a dental malpractice insurance company came to my dental school and shared many different dental malpractice cases with us.

Winning a Lawsuit Against Your DentistOne that stuck out to me was of a young woman who went to the dentist to have a routine procedure performed.  After she left the dentist’s office, her tongue was permanently numb.  The dentist felt really bad that she could no longer feel anything with her tongue and offered her $10,000.  She refused the money the dentist offered her and decided to sue the dentist for somewhere in the neighborhood of half a million dollars.  She lost.

Why did she lose?  Did the malpractice insurance company simply have extraordinary lawyers?  No, the reason she lost was because she lacked one of the four necessary ingredients to winning a dental malpractice lawsuit.  I’ll now explain what those four requirements are and then I’ll explain what went wrong in this young woman’s lawsuit.

Below is an interesting paragraph that explains what those four magic elements are that you must have in order to win a malpractice lawsuit against your dentist:

In most malpractice cases the patient must prove all of the following four elements of a malpractice claim: (1) – the existence of a duty, usually implied by the doctor-patient relationship; (2) – a breach of the duty — in malpractice, a breach of the standard of care; (3) damages — in nonlegal terms, an injury; and (4) causation, a causal connection between the failure to meet the standard of care and the injury alleged.

The initial burden of proving malpractice lies with the plaintiff (patient).  The patient must prove by a preponderance of the evidence all four elements of the claim.

Source: Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery by James R. Hupp

If you didn’t understand all of that, don’t worry – I’m going to list out the requirements below and talk about each one of them.  After researching the topic of malpractice lawsuits, I found that these are the four standard elements you need in order to mount a successful lawsuit against your dentist.

The Four Necessary Ingredients to Successfully Sue Your Dentist

1. The Existence of a Duty – First, you have to prove that your dentist has a duty to care for you.  This is implied by the dentist-patient relationship.  All you need to show this is documentation that the dentist was actually treating you as a dentist.  This can be easily proven.

2. A Breach of the Standard of Care – Next, you have to prove that your dentist violated the standard of care.  The standard of care is roughly defined as what is clinically acceptable and recommended given the circumstances.

For example, if your dentist was performing a lingual frenectomy and cut back way too far, damaging a nerve in your tongue, then that would be a violation of the standard of care.  The standard of care when performing a lingual frenectomy would be to simply remove that portion of the frenum that is causing a person to be tongue-tied.  If a dentist continues cutting into the tongue, then that would be a violation of the standard of care.

3. The Dentist Injured You – Next, you must show that the dentist injured you.  This shouldn’t be too hard since the reason most people decide to sue their dentist is because of an injury.

4. Proof that The Violation of the Standard of Care Caused the Injury – You need to be able to prove that your injury occurred because of the dentist’s negligence.  For example, let’s say that a guy named Rufus goes to see Dr. Smiley.  Rufus hardly ever brushes and has lots of cavities, so he goes to get a few of them filled from Dr. Smiley.  While the dentist is drilling, she accidentally hits Rufus’ gums with the drill.  A few years later, Rufus has developed gum recession around all of his teeth.

In order to win a lawsuit claiming that Dr. Smiley caused his gum recession, Rufus would have to prove that it was the dentist’s mistake with the drill that caused the gum recession rather than his own poor oral hygiene – a case that would be hard to prove.

You need to be able to directly link your injury with the dentist’s violation of the standard of care.

You Can Lose a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit Even When You’ve Been Injured

You may find it hard to believe, but you can lose a dental malpractice lawsuit when the dentist has harmed you and the dentist can even admit to harming you!  It has to do with the second requirement above about proving a breach of the standard of care.  This is why the young woman in my opening story lost her lawsuit.  Even though the dentist had caused her tongue to be numb, he did what any other dentist would have done under the same circumstances.  The problem was that the young woman’s nerve was located in an abnormal spot.  It wasn’t the dentist’s fault that her nerve wasn’t where most people’s nerves are, it was simply a tragic event that occurred without anyone to blame.

Even if your dentist has caused harm, you need to make sure the your dentist has violated the standard of care before you file your lawsuit.  If your dentist was simply following normal procedure, you probably will have the cards stacked against you when you go to present your case at the courthouse.

Conclusion

It might be surprising to see an article written by a future dentist about how to win a lawsuit against your dentist.  However, I believe in justice.  If a patient has been harmed by a dental professional and it is the dentist’s fault, then the patient should be compensated in some way.  That doesn’t mean I’m a fan of frivolous lawsuits, but I do believe that certain lawsuits can help make the world a better place by revoking the license of those dentists who are truly negligent and harmful to their patients.

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159 COMMENTS

    • Hi Mike – Thank you for the comment. Thanks for sharing that informative site – It looks like the discussion board isn’t working at the moment, though.

      Unfortunately, there are inherent risks with getting dental treatment. Usually things go great, but once in a great while these tragic events occur. I’m glad that someone has taken their story public on the internet to share it with others. it really makes the risks of getting dental care seem more real.

      • hello
        I have question I went to the denturist he made me dentures partial one they seemed okay
        for a while until I was biting my lip while eating he tried to adjust it too loose too tight .
        he made it too loose that it would fall in my cup of water and when eating food spagetti dinner
        denture was moving around in my mouth had 17 adjustments until one dayhe tightened it so bad left jaw side was crushing my skull pain very bad went back he didnt even un loosen it was in tears
        xomplained to his wife had me come back again he said we are not going to loosen it alot .
        I said please loosen it was killing me .he refused 2 weeks later stoped wearring it.
        have tmj cant wear biting appliance that jaw spasams very bad .I feel he has injured me what to do.
        he has ruined my life please help .

    • Hi,

      I had the rest of my teeth extracted about 4 years ago so I could get my lower dentures. I already had my upper dentures. I thought everything went well and my gums healed up. About 10 months ago, I noticed a knot next to a sore spot on the top of my gums on the left side of my mouth. A few weeks later a hole opened up and a jagged piece of tooth was sticking out(It loves to cut my cheek and tongue), also the knot next to this broke tooth(it is broke, had it examined) was a tooth that had never grew in and it was supposed to have been removed when I had the last of my teeth pulled.

      It has gotten to the point now that it is very painful on that side of my mouth and it is infected again. The hole is still around the broken tooth and also my gums where the ingrown?? tooth is has deteriorated to the point of me being able to actually feel the tip of the tooth with my tongue, my gums is real thin there now.

      I called the dentist who done this and she said the only way she would look at it was if I paid half the surgery/anesthesia up front, plus x-rays and other costs. I had already spent over 900.00 dollars getting the last of my teeth removed with her already and now I no longer have insurance to cover it. I am on medicare and I am disabled and they do not cover anything but cancer related stuff. I am wondering since I had the teeth removed over 4 years ago, but the problem with my gums and the ingrown tooth did not show up until 10 months ago what I should do now. I have not been able to chew on that side of my mouth for at least 8 months and I have been in pain every since it came through and it is getting worse. I know in Georgia that there was a time limit of 2 years that you had to sue etc, the Doctor, anything over that and you were out of luck. All this happened in North Carolina though and I am in GA now.

      Thanks
      Bobby

  1. I agree, a good article indeed and I’m sure these 4 criteria apply equally in Australia. I am currently thinking of suing my dentist for an attempted wisdom tooth extraction but the weight of probabilities is probably against me. Once my gum was cut he decided against extraction of the wisdom (and the molar next to it) due to my jawbone covering the entire back two teeth. I thought why wouldn’t he have seen this via the 2 x-rays done previously rather than wait when I’m all opened up. I will get a second opinion from another dentist and see a lawyer for his opinion.

    • Thanks for your comment, John. I’m not sure about Australia, but it would seem that these should apply most anywhere.

      Sometimes, the x-ray can be deceiving since it’s just a two-dimensional picture of a three dimension object (the tooth in relation to the jawbone.) If the x-ray was taken at an angle, it might have appeared to the dentist that it wasn’t fully covered by bone. After your dentist went in and saw that it was fully covered by bone, he or she might have realized that it was a procedure more suited for an oral surgeon and decided to refer you rather than risk taking out the teeth and causing damage to your bone or nerves.

      That’s just an educated guess as to what might have happened. Did your dentist refer you to someone else or just say that the extraction couldn’t be done?

      • Thanks for your reply Tom. No, my dentist did not refer me to anyone, although he wants to see me to remove the stitches in a week (this won’t be happening). He basically said that it is better to leave the 2 teeth in place as it was too risky to remove them.

        Not satisfied, I actually did go and see another dentist today with the same 2 dimensional x-ray (an OPG) and his advice was that he would not have attempted the extraction because the tooth was lying very low on the jawbone and it looked like the nerve on the jawbone was either touching the root or lying between the two root fangs. Basically, it was too risky a procedure to do on the dentist chair. He could also see that the jawbone line was above the crown. His plan is for me to get a 3D x-ray to determine where the nerve exactly lies and then refer me to a specialist where I may need surgery under a general anesthetic.

        This new dentist could tell I was upset but stressed upon me to to be bitter and not to bother taking legal action against the previous dentist as it would be lengthly and expensive and if there was compensation it would be minimal as there was no permanent damage done and that he was just doing his job. Not every dentist sees an x-ray the same way was his comment. I’m still not sure whether to take action as my pain is subsiding but to me it’s quite clear that 99 out of 100 dentists would not have attempted the extraction themselves.

        • Thanks for the update, John.

          I’m not sure how the dental specialties work in Australia, but I assume it’s fairly similar to how they are here in the States. General dentists are allowed to do most all procedures IF we think that we can do them as well as a specialist would. In other words, we are held to the same standard of care that specialists are.

          I’d probably be with those 99 dentists that wouldn’t have attempted the extraction. It’s not fair to the patient if I don’t have the experience to perform a quality extraction and decide to try it anyways. Believe me, I’ve tried extracting some wisdom teeth here at dental school and I’ve decided that I’ll probably be referring out those extractions to a specialist.

          I’m curious as to what you decide to do. Let me know the outcome, if you don’t mind. Thanks!

          • No worries Tom, I will let you know of any developments and will see what the specialist advises; probably take a couple of weeks.

  2. How about during a frenulectomy all of the criteria is met, plus the patient woke up during the scalpel surgery which was performed under local anesthesia (completely knocked out) with IV drip. Tongue numb, burning, bottom lip numb, cheek on right side tingling as if being shocked and ear pain in right ear. Could it be when patient woke up, it scared doc, and scalpel slipped?

    • Hi Linda – When you said “all of the criteria is met” were you referring to the four criteria above? I don’t have all of the details, but after searching in my local anesthetic textbook, it said that there are a few causes of burning with local anesthetics, here they are:

      – The pH of the local anesthetic. Some local anesthetics can have a pH of around 3, which is almost as acidic as Coca-Cola.
      – If the anesthetic was injected very rapidly.
      – If the anesthetic was warmed to body temperature before it was injected, it can give the patient a burning feeling.
      – If the anesthetic was contaminated, such as if they are stored in sterlizing solutions that seep into the anesthetic cartridge.

      If the patient wakes up during a procedure when they should be “asleep” (under general anesthesia) and makes even the slightest movement, it could cause the dentist/doctor to cut in the wrong place.

  3. It was my tongue that was burning, so painful and bleeding profusely. Sutures were put in loosely. My arm that was used for the IV was swollen and purple for about a week. Now I have tardive dyskinesia, distonia, and adult onset vocal and motor tics as a result of this botched frenectomy. Several of my nerves were severed. I woke up and heard a voice say, “She’s waking up!”

    • Hi Linda. I am sorry to hear that you had to go through that.

      If they did cut through several of your nerves, it sounds like you would have a good case. I would talk to a lawyer who would be more suited to advise you and file the charges.

      Were they cutting anywhere else aside from just at the front of your mouth (labial frenectomy) or under your tongue (lingual frenectomy)?

  4. I have permenant lingual nerve damage due to having all 4 wisdom teeth extracted in September 2010 by an Oral Surgeon. After the procedure, I noticed in the following weeks that the left side of my tongue, bottom lip, and chin were still completely numb. I went back to the surgeon, and was told this was probably going to go away, and to come back in a month. November 2010, I went back completely upset because everything came back except the feeling in my tongue – absolutely no feeling on the top or bottom of the left side of my tongue. I bite it all the time, causing it to bleed, burn it on hot foods/drinks. I have no taste on that side, and at times I feel like I’m taking “funny”. It’s hard when I have to do presentations at work because I’m so worried about slurring my words.

    Anyway, after being frustrated with the oral surgeon who didn’t seem to care. Also to note: he showed me a copy of my x-ray and said “oh i see, this is why there was a complication, your tooth was impacted” and I had to correct him that HE was looking at the RIGHT side of my mouth in the x-ray because the left side (where the numbness is) has a filling, which you can see on the x-ray. So he basically was trying to give me some BS when he was absolutely incorrect.

    I saw 2 nureologists and had an MRI of the brain done. The 2nd Neurologist is the one who finally told me that it is definigly lingual nerve damage and the fact that I havent had any improvements in 6 months, makes the chances less likely of me having any feeling come back. (Basically cross your fingers – Hope for the best, expect the worst… it’s Permenant).

    I’m upset at the whole thing because I feel like this should have been discussed with me prior to the procedure. Also, the X-Ray the Oral Surgeon used was over a year old and he even said he “shouldn’t” use it, but since my insurance company wouldnt pay for a new one yet – He was just going to go ahead and use it. Shouldn’t the oral surgeon have known right away when there was a complication – advising me after the procedure? and instead of acting worried/nervous/BS’ing me. Shouldn’t he have been following up with me to see how things were going since I made it clear to him that I was scared?

    I want to file a malpractice suit against him, but want to know my odds at this point. It’s been 6 months – seen a neurologist, had an MRI, no changes, no feeling or taste, no contact from the oral surgeon.. What should I do? I’m upset that this happened.

    If I have a chance at filing a malpractice suite, do you have any Referrals for the Northern Virginia Area? I want to find someone good. I, like you stated, believe in justice, and don’t believe I’ve been treated fairly at all by this surgeon. I don’t want other people going through this over a “routine” wisdom tooth extraction.

    Not to mention – My dentist that referred me to this guy – told him I only needed ONE wisdom tooth removed at that time. The Oral Surgeon talked me into getting them all removed since I am “26 years old, and they would need to come out eventually.”

    Please Help!

    • Hi Kelly – I am really sorry to hear about the lingual nerve damage you have. Sometimes feeling can come back within a few months. That is interesting that the surgeon brushed you off when looking at your x-ray. Most wisdom teeth do become impacted and that’s why they are extracted – just because it’s impacted doesn’t mean that there will be complications, but it does increase the risk of complications.

      The surgeon should have gone over the different risks associated with not only getting the teeth removed, but keeping them if that’s what you would have decided to do. At my dental school, we go over the risks of teeth removal with each patient and have them sign a form saying that they understand all of the risks.

      It seems like most people want to sue doctors that they don’t have a good relationship with and that don’t seem to care. I can’t give you a recommendation on whether to sue or not since I don’t know all of the specifics and I’m not a lawyer. Also, I don’t know any lawyers in the northern Virginia area. I would ask around your social groups and try to get a referral that way.

      Here’s a good page that summarizes many different dental malpractice cases including cases that were very similar to yours. It shows who won and what the damages were. I hope that helps. Hopefully your nerve will eventually recover. Thanks for your comment, Kelly!

      • Hi There

        Unfortunately lingual nerve damage and ID nerve (supplies your teeth in the lower jaw and some of the lip and chin) can be damaged during removal of wisdom teeth. I am adentist in the UK and the stats are something like 1 in 200 cases get permanent anaesthesia. Like I say, I am a dentist. I had my wisdom teeth removed by a very highly qualified and experienced surgeon (one of my tutors at uni) and I had complete numbness of my lip and chin for 6 months following the surgery. It took over 2 years for some of the sensation to come back and I now have approximately 80% sensation on the side that was affected.

        2 years ago, I also had a small cyst removed from the underside of my tongue, this was also done by a very experienced and skilled surgeon but I have some damage to my lingual nerve and have lost some sensation in my tongue too.

        Unfortunately, these are risks that are associated with these procedures and it is unlikely that they will be seen as anything else in a lawsuit. I’m really sorry Kelly but I’m afraid that it may not be worth pursuing this matter as it could prove to be very costly and stressful for you and it is unlikely that you will get the result you wish for.

      • Hi Tom,

        Thank you for your blog, dentalfearcentral.org I got more info from your website than what I got from my dentist or endodontist! I was recently referred to an endodontist for a root canal on 31 and infection removal. Once it was done, I went back to the dentist who said the root canal was not filled properly all the way to the apex and I had to go back. This time, I could feel the endodontist injecting anesthetic, kind of a sudden mildish pain.

        The right side of my tongue is still numb although I have had no lip numbness, so the mental nerve appears not to be affected. However, a week after the injury, I feel some sensitivity in the gums of my front teeth. Right side of my tongue really burns, especially the tip and side of the tongue. Under my tongue, it feels like it is clamped down and have some pain. Occasionally, that pain migrates towards my right ear and right side of the throat.

        After reading about lingual nerve injury, am starting to freak out. I am not even sure if it is actually lingual nerve although the endo told me so. Will I ever get back to normal? The endo said it will heal within 3 months, but I don’t trust that endo anymore. Should I see an oral surgeon or a neurologist? I am not suing, my questions are more about what I should or can do now. I am taking vitamin b 12 & b complex, not sure if that can help but I want to try anything and everything at this point. Please help! Thank you.

        Nicolas

  5. Hi Tom
    I visited my dentist and had agree to have my teeth extracted and replaced with a full set of dentures. We went over the procedures, cost and that I would receive the dentures on the day of extraction. Five months later still no dentures! He keep telling me after 9 impressions that it was the labs fault. I was finally sent to another dentist and after one impression I received my dentures. Also the first dentist over charged me like crazy! My insurance company is involved now. I’m not sure if anyone has ever had to walk around without teeth for 5 months, but let me tell you …not good. Also I’m a teacher so I was not able to teach, go to meetings or anything that would have me face my co-workers.
    My question is: Would this be a malpractice lawsuit?

    • Hi Diane – I’m sorry to hear about your experience. When we do immediate dentures at my dental school, we take the impression and have the dentures made before we take the teeth out. I’m not sure why your dentist took the teeth out when the denture wasn’t already made.

      If your dentist had to take nine impressions and still couldn’t deliver the denture, then my guess is that it’s not the lab’s fault!

      I agree that what happened was unfortunate. Remember that I’m not a lawyer, but according to the guidelines above, I’m not sure you would have grounds to win a lawsuit. There may be some legal ground to stand on for pain and suffering/lost wages but I’m really not sure.

      Once dentists start treatment, they are ethically obligated to finish it or refer to someone who can. If the denture wasn’t ready, then your teeth shouldn’t have been extracted.

      Thanks for your comment! People may find this and ask their dentist to show them the denture before the teeth are pulled – so maybe you saved someone else from having to go through the same ordeal.

      • This is not necessarily true. Teeth can be pulled , wait for healing, then the dentures made. This is actually a less expensive and better fit of the dentures. If the teeth are pulled then a temporary denture can be made, this is temporary. It needs to be refitted or relined until healing has occurred after about six months. Then the final denture can be made. There will always be added cost when more tx has been done. This is one of many ways of ext teeth and making dentures. Simply because one dental school does it one way does not make it the best.
        The teeth might have been causing so much infection that it would be more beneficial to the pt for them to be ext, then wait for a denture, again not being there and not knowing the circumstances makes it impossible to give an accurate diagnosis or response. If you are not happy with one doctor go to another.

        • Hi Nate – Waiting until a few months after extractions will result in better dentures, and this is usually a better treatment. In fact, that’s how I made all of my dentures in dental school, it wasn’t until I graduated that I did immediate dentures.

          In the above case, it looks like she was promised immediate dentures that she did not receive. She wasn’t promised conventional dentures, as it appears that she did not want to go without her teeth for a few months…

  6. Hi Tom

    Recently i went to do a filling with my Dentist, they injected me and told me go wait and they will call me. 30minutes late they had forgot about me and i ask them, they took me to their room now instead of filling my front tooth they took it out by the time i relized what he has done he went to check the book to see what i was there for, he putted my tooth back after his assistance had made fun of me. i was in pain and he gave me a prescription for pain and anti biotics tablets and told me to come see him every a week for six week.

    after three days the pain was too much so i went back, he again took the tooth out, to the nerve of the tooth and putted it back that whole prosedure took about 3hours and the injection for me not to feel pain was no longer in my mouth.

    Every touch, movement and pain in my mouth i could feel, when i told them about my pain and suffering they said my tooth will be fine. it feels like i have a false teeth in my front tooth and i can not bite with it as it is still loose and that now has putted strain on my back tooth as i can only bite and chew with one side.

    i have contacted a lawyer but he said i will not get much?

    • Hi Nomachina – I am sorry to hear about your horrible experience! It sounds like the dentist should have been paying closer attention to what he was doing. It sounds like the dentist made a mistake. Have you talked with him to see if they will place an implant in that area or offer to make a bridge for you free of charge? It seems like all you would get from a lawsuit is the amount to pay for an implant, and you would probably have to pay court fees as well depending on the laws in your area.

      Your best bet is to talk with the dentist and tell him about your concerns and frustrations and see if he is willing to do anything to help you. If you don’t trust him anymore, see if he is willing to pay for you to go to another dentist to get that tooth replaced.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment, Nomachina!

  7. Tom –
    Hi, I’m writing to see if you can tell me what percentage I have of winning a case against my oral surgeon.

    April of 2010 I was sent to my oral surgeon to have my 2 wisdom teeth consulted on. My dentist sent over the xrays prior to my visit. I got there and had to sign my consent forms in the waiting room and was brought to the room and was prepped for surgery before even seeing the doc. I saw him for 5 minutes and he walked in and said “So, we’re going to be pulling 2 wisdom teeth today, Missy.” Who am I to argue? I thought it was wierd because my bottom one didn’t bother me and was still impacted and in place and I knew my upper one was coming in and upsetting my bridge, so that one I could understand. But he was the surgeon……so, I asked him “I’m almost 37, aren’t I old to be having this done?” He said “Yeah….I usually say anyone over the age of 25 is old.” I said “Ok then”. He knocked me out, the procedure was done.

    I left….had pain, numbness, no taste on the left side of my tongue and called about it 2 days later and went to the office the a week later. He wasn’t there…went that Friday (so basically 2 weeks after procedure almost) and he said “I thought that this may happen. I think the lingual nerve is severed. It happened during the procedure. When I pulled the folicle up after I pulled the tooth, the nerve was attached to the folicle and came with it as I tugged it out. It must have ripped somewhere in there. You need to go to the University to see those physicians.” He has the secretary schedule something. She has no idea how urgent it was and so it was scheduled out a month. He didn’t make it an urgent matter. I went up there. They did a surgery to reconnect the nerve at the end of July. They said if I had been up there sooner, it would have been better. There was a huge neuroma where the nerve severed and I still have numbness, no taste buds and tremendous pain involved with the left side of my tongue.

    It has been just over a year since I had my surgery at the University. Since this happen though in April of 2010….I have not been able to work because of the pain and the medications (neurotin). I have been let go from my employer and lost my house. I am wondering if there are any reprecussions that I can get from a lawsuit? I have one started and it is now in negotiations. Thanks for reading.

    Missy

    • I AM NO EXPERT AT THIS BUT I AM A DENTAL ASSISTANT AND AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED THE PATIENT BEING COMFORTABLE AND INFORMED IS OUR #1 PRIORITY. THEREFOR IF YOU LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU WERE IN EXTREME DISCOMFORT AND ONCE YOU WERE SEEN THEY INFORMED YOU THAT THIS COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLED DIFFERENTLY I SUGGEST YOU DO TRY TO PLACE A CASE ON THEM. BECAUSE YOU COULD BE HELPING OTHERS TO NOT GET PUT THROUGH THE SAME THING, AS WELL AS MAY BE ABLE TO GET SOME COMPENSATION FOR YOUR PAIN AND SUFFERING. HOPE ALL GOES WELL.

  8. I AM A DENTAL ASS. BEFORE WORKING IN THE FIELD I HAD SOME ORTHODONTIC TX DONE AND INEEDE 4 BICUSPIDS EXTRACTED AT THE TIME OF THE EXTRACTION ON THE LOWER RIGHT THE BICUSPID WITH THE LONGET ROOT WAS EXTRACTED AND THE ONE WITH THE SHORTER ROOT AND OBVIOUSLY LESS LIFE TIME WAS LEFT IN THERE.THE TOOTH WAS MOVED WITH THE BRACES FOR A LITTLE BIT AND THEN HE REMOVED THE BRACKET OFF THE TOOTH BECAUSE HE SAID THE ROOT WAS GETTING SHORTER. I RQUESTED MY RECORDS AND I THE INITIAL PANO IT SHOWS THE ISSUE WITH THE ROOT AS WELL AS HIS NOTES IN THE CHART SAY “THAT THE BRACKET WAS REMOVED DUE TO ROOT RESORPTION AND THAT THE INITIAL PANO SHOWS THIS”. NOW THIS TOOTH HAS BEEN GIVING ME SENSITIVITY PROBLEMS BUT I DIDNT PAY MUCH ATTENTION TO IT UNTIL NOW THAT I ITOOK A PANO AND THE TOOTH LOOKS LIKE ITS BUND TO FALL OUT ANY TIME SOON. DO I HAVE A PAIN AND SUFFERING CASE AGAINST HIM??OR DO I ATLEAST HAVE A CASE FOR HIM TO PAY FOR AN IMPLANT ONCE THE TOOTH FALLS OUT??

  9. I had two fillings in two separate teeth and a crown put on one back molar. This was two months ago. Two days after the teeth were filled I returned because the dentist failed to check the bite which was not aligned on the two fillings. When he put on the crown it did not seem to fit so he ground the tooth which was fine in the jaw below the crowned tooth because he said the porcelain crown would break if he adjusted that.

    Since that time the fillings and the tooth he ground down have been rubbing my tongue raw. He may have altered the one tooth because the point of that molar is digging into my tongue. The tooth below has a ledge at the gum line that is sharp and feels like there was not enough filling put into the drilled hole. I am reluctant to return to him since he did such a poor job finishing the fillings smoothly. Can they even be repaired? I have never had such an experience with either a crown or fillings.

    Can they be fixed?

  10. Hi Tom, I’m a 10 years experienced Dentist from Brazil, and I’m very glad about your initiative to make this blog.Most of students can barely achieve their grades, but you have a wider understanding of what is necessary to be an excellent Dentist.Keep studying as you seem to be, and use this blog to nurish your Wisdom(Don’t let anybody extract it from you!)

  11. Hi Tom,

    I am from Newcastle, Australia and wondering if you have any thoughts on my situation and a potential legal case. It is rather compex.

    I had 4 wisdom teeth extracted in 1998 – I developed severe trismus and despite my parents phoning the oral maxillofacial surgeon several times during the week after the procedure explaining I could not open my mouth at all and the severe muscle pain I had, I was told this was normal and to wait until my post-op apt to see the surgeon. At the post-op apt, there was absolute panic by the surgeon as at the time I could barely open my mouth 2mm and he could not remove the stitches. I could barely talk at the time but asked if everything went OK with the procedure but was told by the surgeon that my hospital notes have gone missing. He did tell me that as far as he recalls everything went well because if something hadn’t, he would have remembered.

    My surgeon at the time continued to tell me there was nothing he did wrong, thought that I must have had a pre-existing problem with my jaw, I never even mentioned about a legal case (I haven’t even thought about it until now), but even at this apt he said “you can’t sue me”. Not long after, he referred me to another oral maxillofacial surgeon, and he seemed to just want to get rid of me and the problem.

    Over the last 13 years, I’ve needed to have all 2nd molar teeth extracted and even a couple of 1st molars – as access to the molars was not possible due to my limited mouth opening. I was referred to an endodontist for RCT, however, the endodontist could not use his instruments in my mouth again due to the very limited mouth opening. Having general anaesthetics is always difficult as the anasthetist can not see my trachea. I need to have a fine tube inserted through my nose while I am awake in order to be anaesthetised. I have had my jaw stretched under GA about 3 times with the hope it might improve my mouth opening, there has been a very small temporary improvement but it could not be maintained. I forgot to mention I have used a Therabite jaw exerciser daily over the last 13 years – this is to try and maintain the mouth opening I have. I have had to learn to function over the years with a maximum 21mm mouth opening. However, this is still incredibly difficult, I can’t bite into an apple, I don’t eat any meat or any foods that require much chewing as the muscles spasm and fatigue very easily. Sometimes I have difficulty speaking because the muscles ache so much and I just can’t seem to speak well. Towards the end of each day, I am always feeling the most pain, discomfort and fatigue. In the last few years, I’ve had to reduce the number of days I work.

    From what I understand, it’s not uncommon to develop trismus post wisdom teeth removal, but it’s usually transient in nature whereas essentially I have developed a ‘permanent’ trismus. I recently was referred to a peridontist for an area of erosion with the gum which has now resolved with a topial corticosteroid cream. However, the peridontist STRONGLY suggested I see another surgeon in Sydney (I’m from Newcastle) to see if there is anything that can be done now (or to even provide help on how to manage the problem). In his referral letter (which he also sent a copy to me), he stated “I am very concerned that there may not have been an intensive and comprehensive assessment of the aetiology and management of Kristen’s severe trismus following 3rd molar removal many years ago. I saw her recently and her involved history of TM joint dysfunction is very distresssing…..her restricted mouth opening is a life handicap….etc”. It has only been recently that I wondered whether I would have any legal case. It would be nice to get some compensation given the amount of money I’ve had to spend with all the dental work & ongoing procedures & the impact it’s had and will continue to have on my life. It is thought I will lose more teeth and at some point (possibly in the next 5 years) my only option will be to look at impants. I have been told it is not possible too have dentures fitted again due to the limited mouth opening (it’s not possible to get even an imprint).

    Just wondering if you had any thoughts about a legal case.

    • My name is Charlene Young. I dealt with the same problem for 3 and half years. The Oral Surgeon that I was seeing thought the pain was all in my mind. He performed surgery to open my jaw and that was unsuccesful. He had me use a DynaSplint to try and stretch my jaw hoping it would open my mouth wider. I finally went to see another oral surgeon and he did a biopsy on my jaw. I had a cancerous tumor in my jaw which cause the jaw to lock and the severe pain. (Do not want to scare you). I had surgery at to remove the tumor. I was wondering the same thing about persuing a legal case against this oral surgeon. I wish you luck.

  12. I am pretty livid right now. Situation:

    1. Tooth extraction done on lower tooth (broken and opted out of root canal).
    2. Followed post-op instructions. Lots of pain. Got 1 fill of anti-biotic & 2 refills of pain meds.
    3. After 2nd pain refill requested, called dentist ..”something” just didn’t feel right” it wasn’t healing as fast (no dry socket). Can you guys take an x-ray.. can I come in.. I just know something is not right. Secretary: “Just be patient, wait another day” here we will refill you a 2nd pain med. OK.. so..
    4. Into 3rd week. Now off pain meds for over a week.. and still doing the tylenol & ibuprofen switch (by the way I lost 2 days of work from pain).. it crosses my mind… why are my stitches not dissolving and irritated?
    5. I call dentist today. “Can you tell me if you put permanent or dissolve stitches?” (..let me check your chart.. waiting….)
    6. Secretary states they are permanent. I said “WHAT?!” Why wasn’t I told this – on my instructions it says dissolve!” Secretary: “I don’t know why a post-op suture removal was not scheduled for you.”
    7. Me? I’m turning red as I hear this.. they are definitely grown into my gums being in here for three weeks now. I am going into get them removed tonight. You mean to tell me all of the follow up calls I did and EVEN asked for an x-ray, you probably classified me as a scum-sucking drug seeker for pain meds while I was TRULY in pain even til today – and now you don’t owe me anything for my trouble?

    Someone tell me… am I over-reacting, should I react to a demand? Should I be compensated? I may even lose more unpaid time for work over pain and now have to take bowel clogging pain meds again. Is there any negligence here or am I just supposed to do nothing about this? I dunno. All comments welcome.

  13. I recently was having some crown work at my dentist…..the dentist that came in to give me the Novocane was not by regular dentist, but another dentist working in the office. While getting the Novocane shots, she seemed to be having troublw with getting the postion on the needles to numb the area to be worked on…..Two to three days after my dentist appointment, I cant even open my mouth to get a spoon in. Its now been nine days since the appointment and it seems to be getting worse….I called my regular dentist and he said the needle must have penetrated to muscle when the other dentist administered the shots…I’ve never had pain like this in my life….i cant eat…its even hard to get a toothbrush in my mouth…The pain to open my mouth is unbelievably painful….What should I do? My next appointment is not until a week from now…..I dont know if I can take the pain that long while trying to eat….I am so angry at this other dentist…..I went online to look this up and find out its called Trismus…..It said it can last for months…..The article online said it was caused by inaccurate positioning of the needle when giving the inferior nerve block…..I’m so angry I feel like consulting with an attorney.

    • Dear Jerry, I hope your trismus got better. I had a root canal done day before Christmas of 2011 and 3 days later developed trismus. From therapy trying to rip mouth open to valium for panic, my mouth did not open for four months. I cried everyday. I ran from dr to dr in severe pain, I finally went to the University of PA and they re-read the MRI of the tmj (joint). The disk was completely out of the joint. The injections caused a hematoma which caused the disk to be pushed out of the joint. I had the disk flushed back into the joint and am now able to open my mouth. I still have discomfort from the tooth and adhesions but am dealing with it better than a locked jaw. I wish you the best. By the way, I have had to pay for the majority of procedures out of my pocket and no attorney will help me.

  14. Hi there, I am in Ontario and would like some advice. About 4-8 years ago I went to my former dentist complaining of tooth pain, he said he could not see anything on the x-ray, but thought the tooth needed to have a root canal. This was done and I still had tooth pain, so he did the tooth next to it. Still had pain so the tooth next to it and still pain so the tooth next to it. 4 root canals later and there was still pain. At this point he sent me to a specialist who diagnosed Trigeminal neuralgia. None of the root canals were needed. I saw a medical Dr. and was prescribed Tegretol and was fine in three days. I did not get the teeth crowned as I felt I had been taken for enough money already. In the next couple of years one of the teeth broke and I had to have an extraction (different Dentist and office). Fast forward to recently and I had a large bump of infection on the gum over these teeth, upon further x-ray review my new dentist said there had been evidence of recurrent infection and that from the x-rays it didn’t seem that the root canals were done properly (very thin and short fillings) and said I would need to have them retreated. I went on antibiotics and booked sedation for the 3 retreats. During this procedure my dentist notice a large amount of blood and that the root space was enormous, he tried to dry the area to measure for treatment and I got an air embolism. He stopped treatment and sent me to the hospital as my eye was swollen shut and there was swelling in my cheek and neck. I have been on antibiotics for 4 days now. He says that from the recurrent infection another tooth cannot be treated and must be extracted. I just developed another white lump in my gums and was told it is more infection. I will now be missing 2 of 4 teeth on the upper left side. In my opinion these root canals should not have been done and now I am looking at about $8000 to get a bridge. I would like your opinion of who should pay for this as I don’t believe it is me. How should I proceed?

  15. Hello, I was researching lawsuit against dentist. I came across your article n have a few question.
    Will I have a case against a dentist if he refuses to give me back a refund for a work that I didn’t like?
    I was suppose I get a bridge done but when it was time to put it on I didn’t like how it looks on me so
    I asked him if he can fix the teeth on the bridge. However as I speak to him I realize that he was not going to
    Do the best job so I just want my money back.

  16. In Michigan, there was a milllon dollar vedict in a case where the dentist failed to check for cancer under

    the tongue. The patient was at Stage four.

    Summary judgement was entered against the plaintiff; appealed to the Court of Appeals; and reversed.

    The case went back down to the Circuit Court and went to trial. The fact finder in this case was the

    jury.

    As far as the standard of care issue: In simple terms: among the community of dentists, using the

    average standard practice by the community, would other dentist also cut that nerve under same or

    similiar conditions?

    There is more going on with this case. It is not so simple as you say.

    The field of dentistry in Michigan needs more regulation as far as public safety.

  17. It seems like you have a lot of experience practicing dentistry–what type of dentistry do you practice,ie, ortho, molar endo, implant surgery etc? I need advice in molar endo retreatment.

    Thanks

  18. Hi, just a few days ago a person I know had gluma desensitizer dropped into his eye as the dentist passed it over his face. Immediately they flushed his eye and he was seen by a physician. What is the standard of care concerning protection of the patient’s eyes during a procedure? This person has developed an eye infection and continues to be treated. I do not know what the long term outcome will be for him. Thanks for your thoughts.

  19. Hi Tom,

    I had a recent root canal done and the dentist left behind broken files down in the root of my tooth. I am interested in your response to this. Is this breach of standard care?

    Thank you

  20. Hello,

    I recently went to the dentist ( a new dentist) because I had a little tenderness around a tooth that had a root canal done and a post put in. She did her exam and stated it needed to be pulled. I go back to get the extraction done, it was absolutly horrible. It took her 45 minutes to get that tooth out, I thought she was going to break my jaw. She gave me two stiches and some pain meds and sent me on my way. This was done on a Thursday, come Monday, I was in alot of pain and that side of my face was very swollen. I went back in and she removed the stiches, packed it and said it was a dry socket, gave me antibiotics and more pain meds. I had to go everday for 6 days to get it packed. The last day was a Saturday, one of the other Drs. were on call, he packed it and said there was some bone showing that may need to be removed, I had asked her about this and she would never give me a straight answer. Come Monday, asked for some more pain meds, they never called them in. I continued on Advil and tuffed it out. I called back to the office about 3 days later, asking to talk with her about the bone and tell her it was beginning to hurt again. No return call to date. I have scheduled myself to see an oral surgeon, hopefully he can fix what ever has been done. Is this normal?

  21. A year ago I needed an apicoectomy and was referred by my dentist to an oral surgeon. Upon viewing the x-ray he said I did indeed need an apicoectomy, however, he wasn’t going to do it. Baffled for a moment, he went on to explain that his associate should do it because it is on the left side of my mouth and his associate is a lefty. Although this sounded odd to me as I have had a root canal, removal of 4 impacted wisdom teeth, among the normal fillings, I figured he was the professional so he must know what he’s talking about. I did, however, ask my dentist at my next visit if it was easier for him to work on the right side of a patient’s mouth because he was a righty and he looked at me like I was crazy and said that it didn’t make a difference. I was inconvenienced by this from the get go, as his associate (whose name wasn’t even on the door or business cards at the time) only worked out one of their two offices. Of course it was the office furthest from my house. Instead of having a 5 minute ride, it was now a 30 minute ride. I signed the waiver. If I didn’t they wouldn’t have performed the procedure. Bottom line, is that I’m left with my lower lip, a couple of teeth, and part of my chin having permanent nerve damage. I had to go back every month for nearly a year (30 minutes out of my way) for him to evaluate the condition of the numbness. 10 months after the surgery he recommends that I go see an oral surgeon who repairs nerve damage. I incurred the cost of that as this doctor wasn’t in my dental plan. He asked when I’d been told to come see him and seem surprised that the oral surgeon (who he knows) didn’t tell me to come in sooner. Apparently, the sooner you are seen, the better your chances to correct the problem are. Gee thanks, a whole year later. He did not recommend the surgery because at this point the best I could hope for would be a 10-15% improvement. Not noticeable enough to make a difference. I am now considering acupuncture. I trip over my words when I speak, my lower lip is always chapped, I bite the inside of my mouth constantly, and it actually hurts to kiss. :-( I had not considered filing a suit because I signed the waiver, but others

  22. what if the oral surgeon pulls the wrong tooth? My usual dentist sent me to an oral surgeon to pull a wisdom tooth that he could not get out. He had just built up another tooth for a cap, which I paid for. I then went to my the surgeons office a few days later. I informed the receptionist which tooth was to get pulled, by showing her the referral with the tooth number on it.
    I was then sent into the operating area. I informed the assistant that I would need more xrays done as I just had a tooth built up. I then watched her put the old xray done before the build up was done. She told me that xrays are expensive, and the Dentist could use that old one. I told the Dentist when she came in, what tooth number it was, and that I needed another xray. She insisted on flying blind. She put in the novacaine and left. When she came back, with yet another assistant, she pulled out the built up tooth. It was the wrong one, and all she had to do was take an xray, since she couldn’t tell that the built up tooth WAS built up. IT WAS GRAY! I paid for the service, which was less than quoted when I arrived, and left. I went to get Ice on the corner at a McDonalds drive thru, and looked in the mirror. She had removed the wrong tooth! I immediatly went back and told her so. She said that she could remove the right one then, after she finally looked at my referral that told exactly what tooth she was to pull. I went back to her chair, and she finally pulled the correct one. I filed the suit last summer, and after discovery and review of my dental records, the firm decided to take the case to court, because for some reason, she didn’t want to settle out of court. No one expects a surgeon to pull the wrong thing. Do you think I have an excellent chance of a substantial award for damages? My bottom row looks like a J. Not to mention she admitted that she’s sorry and that if I want implants, I would have to wait at least 4 months, and all I would have to pay would be for the materials. This was not acceptable to me so I’m suing.

  23. Hi… Thank you for your article… I think it will help me with my possible law suit against my dentist…. Now in my situation, I had seen this particular dentist 2wice before… Once for a check up, no the other time for my cavities to be filled… I have the appointment cards if that is suitable evidence to prove I have been under his care……. The third time I seen the dentist it was to have a wisdom tooth removed…… Now with this wisdom tooth it was still under the gum, it hasn’t surfaced yet, on the X-ray u can hardly see the tooth…. The dentist informed me he was goin in blind because the X-ray provided wasn’t sufficient enough to see how deep the root was or to see the position of the tooth..? No he didn’t even offer to tke another X-ray to be sure…he just went in… During the procedure I was feeling pain in my jaw ear nd bottom teeth, I had asked him if it was Normal to feel this pain, and he replied ‘it’s impossible your feeling that pain, because I’m doing my work over here’ (the right lower wisdom tooth)… No it didn’t click to him that he could have been damaging a nerve, I remember quite vividly during the procedure he kept pushing the tooth back, and turning it like how you would turn a screwdriver…. ‘to losen it’ during this screwdriver maneuver I kept feeling sharp pain in my ears nd jaw, I was squirming and kicking in the chair…..At this point he seemed annoyed And asked if I’m feeling pain… I said yes…. And showed him again where it was… So he gave me another injection of the anesthetic …. After an hour and a half of pain and his pushing/ twisting the tooth, he drilled it in deeper to crack it in half, took out the two parts of the tooth….. And stuck his finger in the hole wiggled it around…and began stitching the hole… Regarding the stitches he did a horrible job it’s been two weeks and the stitches meltd and I still have a hole in my mouth… The stitches were sticking out and interfered with my eating because the old got caught in them……. After the procedure, he gave me a card for a dental surgeon to extract my other tooth he said he didnt have the proper equiptment to extract the first tooth, and because the left side pushed through the gum he couldnt do the scond tooth….. Weird, if he didnt have the proper equiptment to extract the first tooth, shy risk it, especially when the xray wasnt clear? After the procedure he gave me a prescription for pain medication, and antibiotics… He didn’t tell me to rinse my mouth with salt and water, he didn’t tell me not to eat solid foods, he told me to take the medication and that’s it….. He didn’t make a follow up appointment…. He also refused to give me my tooth…. Two days after the procedure I called and asked him if it was normal for my face to be numb, he said yes, the next day I asked again and he said yes… A week and a half later I called asking again If it was normal… Then he scheduled an appointment with his associate… However I didn’t go to follow up with him, I went to another dentist who referred me to a nerve damage specialist, and I went to the emergency dental hospital the following day, where the 2nd dentist confirmed nerve damage, and referred me to the Same nerve damage specialist…. Now I’m waiting to see the s
    Racialist, my right side of my lip and chin, inside of my cheeks, and lower right guy a are still numb,

  24. Hi… Thank you for your article… I think it will help me with my possible law suit against my dentist…. Now in my situation, I had seen this particular dentist 2wice before… Once for a check up, no the other time for my cavities to be filled… I have the appointment cards if that is suitable evidence to prove I have been under his care……. The third time I seen the dentist it was to have a wisdom tooth removed…… Now with this wisdom tooth it was still under the gum, it hasn’t surfaced yet, on the X-ray u can hardly see the tooth…. The dentist informed me he was goin in blind because the X-ray provided wasn’t sufficient enough to see how deep the root was or to see the position of the tooth..? No he didn’t even offer to tke another X-ray to be sure…he just went in… During the procedure I was feeling pain in my jaw ear nd bottom teeth, I had asked him if it was Normal to feel this pain, and he replied ‘it’s impossible your feeling that pain, because I’m doing my work over here’ (the right lower wisdom tooth)… No it didn’t click to him that he could have been damaging a nerve, I remember quite vividly during the procedure he kept pushing the tooth back, and turning it like how you would turn a screwdriver…. ‘to losen it’ during this screwdriver maneuver I kept feeling sharp pain in my ears nd jaw, I was squirming and kicking in the chair…..At this point he seemed annoyed And asked if I’m feeling pain… I said yes…. And showed him again where it was… So he gave me another injection of the anesthetic …. After an hour and a half of pain and his pushing/ twisting the tooth, he drilled it in deeper to crack it in half, took out the two parts of the tooth….. And stuck his finger in the hole wiggled it around…and began stitching the hole… Regarding the stitches he did a horrible job it’s been two weeks and the stitches meltd and I still have a hole in my mouth… The stitches were sticking out and interfered with my eating because the old got caught in them……. After the procedure, he gave me a card for a dental surgeon to extract my other tooth he said he didnt have the proper equiptment to extract the first tooth, and because the left side pushed through the gum he couldnt do the scond tooth….. Weird, if he didnt have the proper equiptment to extract the first tooth, shy risk it, especially when the xray wasnt clear? After the procedure he gave me a prescription for pain medication, and antibiotics… He didn’t tell me to rinse my mouth with salt and water, he didn’t tell me not to eat solid foods, he told me to take the medication and that’s it….. He didn’t make a follow up appointment…. He also refused to give me my tooth…. Two days after the procedure I called and asked him if it was normal for my face to be numb, he said yes, the next day I asked again and he said yes… A week and a half later I called asking again If it was normal… Then he scheduled an appointment with his associate… However I didn’t go to follow up with him, I went to another dentist who referred me to a nerve damage specialist, and I went to the emergency dental hospital the following day, where the 2nd dentist confirmed nerve damage, and referred me to the Same nerve damage specialist…. Now I’m waiting to see the specialist, my right side of my lip and chin, inside of my cheeks, and lower right guy a are still numb, and my ear throbs with pain almost constantly… My lip and chin have a constant burning sensation, but I can’t feel touch on them… There is the occasional twitch, but nothing more, constant burning, ringing in the ear almost constantly, numb on touch, pain in the ear…. So inmy case what would I do if I wanted to pursue this possible malpractice case???

  25. My dentist yanked out 8 teeth when I was young without telling my mum
    and my mum was left waiting for me outside, when she came back, she
    checked and started complaining to the dentist that why have you
    removed his permanent tooth?

    I only suspected now that I’m in distress as a result of traumatic
    experience dental nerve being damaged. I had no such condition before
    treatment. What can I do?

  26. Great advice. One question if a dentist were to remove a wisdom tooth with an abcese did not prescribe antibiotics to the patient before the extractio and the patient got an infection. Would that be means for a law suit. Is it normal for a piece of tooth to still be in the spot of the extracted tooth?

  27. My name is lei and all i have to say is i dont think i ever wondered around a website reading posts so much. Your website is great i think i missed half my regular shows, forgot to eat, and held my pee just to read more. I recently have had and still am going through a situation with a dentist. First i called the 1800 # for a dentist emergency. (eatting chips an old filling came out and cracked my tooth the minute i got food inside i felt i was sent to hell and my face was on fire) they gave me 3 that were still open. the first place i went to people were nice, did xrays and pretty much looked at me like where the heck do we start, lol, but after i tell them this tooth right now is hurting the worse, they insisted it was pain from another tooth and that i was to sensitive to be touched but if i come in tomorrow a specialist will be there to fix me all up… im like hello i dont want to leave the same way i came im still hurting and ur listed under er dentist to help me, so they told me to go to the ER and theyll help with pain til tomorrow, i walk out while they are talking and we try the next place but its very far away and we just wasted 2.5 hours, but my boyfriend got me there, since i just came rom a place i brought the info with me, This place also super nice people, didnt even charge me for xrays cause of what i just went through, they understood even x-rays can be painful, i was a bit shaken by the price to do1 tooth root canal $2800.00 but i was in alot of pain and just wanted it to stop. So the dentist got started, after numbing the area 4times and waited and kept coming back tapping on tooth, sliding over gum area and yes i still felt it all, got numb some more and then drilling started, Omg i was already shaky and nervous and then a piercing sharp pain, forget hell i just fell in a ditch filled with broken glass, to my brain, so the dentist decided to have me wait a few days when the specialist comes in, but gave me something for pain so i could sleep. when i went back i was a bit more nervous after feeling that pain, but i was immediately put down for being late even tho i called and said i fell leaving to come to appointment (ive got a torn meniscus in left knee, left foot fracture, only got 40% of a disk in lower back after surgery, then october 15 2012 i was in a head on collision going 60mph ) basically im disabled, which they noticed and asked what happened, anyway i couldnt move for a bit and got into some traffic which is bound to happen every day somewhere on an hour drive. Anyway got in the chair got some local anesthesia and the drilling begins, OMG NO WAY yes again, and again, finally this dentist gave up put some sort of medicine in there and told me to let that run its course and come back in another week, this time sending me home drilled up sore and nothing for pain so i can at least sleep at night, but nooooo they did on my first visit and arent allowed to write me another one, so every appointment after that, since no sleep was killing me, i was late and told not to come in and sometimes told to come, but then the dr wouldnt work on my mouth to show me being late has consequences. but never said i have to pay for being late. i mean come on, almost 3 grand and getting treated as if im doing it on purpose, i explained to them hey all night my mouth was pounding, i gotta get up when finally able to sleep, im injured ( i cant express that enough) it takes a huge chunk out of you, and the last thing i want to hear is nagging in my ear. So another specialist dentist came to review mouth rub fingers around poking tapping all my teeth, made me feel like my whole mouth needed to be worked on and inserted what i thought was same as the dentist b4 put in, but he explained its not, put it in and said ok make another appointment…. i cut him off with tears and looked to my boyfriend like, really? are they serious? THATS LIKE GOING TO FAST FOOD AND WAITING 2 HOURS for a 1 minute sandwhich. so he went and talked to some of them and they gave him a print out of the cost of work done so far, and the amount of unfinished work. so we left and called over and over leaving messages, getting told someone in that department would contact me. No 1 called, so this time, faxing letters along with the print-out they gave, signed and asked to please call me or luo whom i put in charge of handling this matter after the car accident i was in so much pain, glass on parts of my body i didnt no glass could go, so after giving him the run-around really offending him saying the same thing reeeeeeeaaaaaallllll sllllllooooooowwwww like that helps, he has strong Chinese accent so i guess the lady thought he didnt understand, once she started yelling he handed me the phone. As soon as i get on the phone she is hostile, telling me to tell my boyfriend he doesnt understand after 25 minutes of repeating myself, i said sweety im pretty frustrated with this situation myself we all just want this matter over. She started yelling again i could even talk, you missed appointments, you were late, this is your fault not ours, talk to your boyfriend he can tell you what i said, tried saying nooooo im on the phone you can discuss with me, she yelled we dont give refunds your not getting nothing back thats it and hung up on me. i had to take a pause…………….asked myself did this lady really hang up on my face, lol hold up, so i called back, the receptionist said she wont talk anymore, i said ok im on my way, she says no one will be here, i said yes someone will be there you guys close at 9pm for er patients and i said bye. then they call 5 seconds later, and said ms Jones she wanted me to let you no if i want to talk to anyone call their attorney shes done. i said ok sorry she put you in the middle of all this i will not talk to no attorney, my tooth wasnt finished i feel both parties are at fault, although im up 24hours just to make it on time, drive hours, and get sent home, it was all my money, it was my feelings that got hurt making me feel like nothing cause im disabled, making my boyfriend pissed cause hes from china and dont understand people sometimes, my car broke down almost every time i drove there, wasted gas and time and went home so sore, crying all night, but thats fine ill take some loss but i dont want to take all the loss. Is there anything i can do? is there a law to help me with this matter? i really need to fiinish my tooth, i cant have that team of dentist attempt to finish, try to finish, nothing, i got nerves touched that i never want to feel again. its why i went to the first place, they offer a sedation for my situation, id sleep through it all, but the 2nd dentist threw the pamphlet in the garbage, said i dont need all that, just a man with a slow hand… just kidding, but really said i dont need all that just a good dentist that knows what he or she is doing and very gentle care. So, does anyone out there no if by some law they have to give money back for work they didnt do??? i paid almost 3 thousand dollars, the remaining work comes out to $1,200.00 so they still keep what a root canal normally cost at an up scale place, and they arent in that category, the way i was treated like a child late for class made me realize this place just has really bad manners, no respect, only loved me til i paid and they got the money, then the attitude towards me came so fast they could care less if i got my tooth finished or not and definitely wont refund anything. so it took a month for them to say that? Told my boyfriend i was a no show 5times (lie) and its $250 every time???? Where did that pop out from? Anyway now that i just relived the dentist experience im a bit sad. hope to hear from someone soon, thank you for having this site.

    • Hi Lady. Woow. I know that was a very traumatic experience for you. I didn’t know so much of this kind of stuff goes on with Dentist. I know that I have had my share of negative experiences with the medical field, but wow! I had no idea so many other people were having similar experiences happen to them as well. I wish I knew a way to make things better for all of us but I don’t. We should form some kind of support group for people who have had these horrible experiences. I know that after having had some terrible things happen to my family and now my youngest child, I have to say that I am more afraid than anything! I use to have no doubt that I would be taken care of when I went to a Dr, but now I’m just afraid. I know that Dr’s don’t have all the answers ,they are just human beings too, but somewhere along the line it almost seems as though they are forgetting that human side! Forgetting what that feels like! Forgetting to treat the patient how they would want to be treated. This has got to stop somehow. I see why a lot of people are turning to alternative medicine and trying to treat themselves. There is a big lack of trust here between the patient and the care giver, and the gap is getting bigger every day. We need more Drs. Like TOM who can help restore people’s faith again. Thanks Tom again for writing this blog. i hope that all is well with each and everyone of you that posted on this site.

      • Thanks for the kind words, Alberta. It is important to find health professionals that you feel comfortable with – I know it can be hard when you have to find one based on a specific insurance, but all health providers have an obligation to treat their patients to the best of their ability, keeping in mind that we’re human and everyone makes mistakes.

        • Hi tom,
          I recently got 6 veneers and a 3 tooth bridge. My dentist is in Kansas and I’m in colorado, when I had the work done in two days my dentist was very rude, he said I needed to put my big girl panties on when I complained about the pain, he also did a root canal, I also told him 2 of my veneers felt lose he replied pigs would out of ass if they were loose. It’s been a year and I’ve had to have 2 teeth re cemented 8 times at 70$ a visit. My dentist is willing to redo the 2 teeth if I flew out to Kansas. This is not an option, I can’t take off work or afford plane ticket, hotel and rental car. I’ve asked him if something can be worked out with my dentist in colorado and he refuses to return my calls. Can I sue him? Thank you in advance

  28. I recently had all four wisdlm teeth removed 8 days ago by my oral surgeon that i was referred to by my primary dentist. I was put under general anethesia and woke up with the normal pains i guess. I awoken with major numbness of my entire jaw and mouth, extremely drowsy and feeling rather weak. I was put in the recovery room for an hour until i fuuly awoken then i was sent home with no instructions except “don’t remove the gauze until an hour”. And that was told to me by some lady in the back who im still not sure what her position was b/c she didnt have a uniform. I believe she was an assistant or something. But anyway, i went home and was ooozing blood like a fountain from my mouth for couple hrs. After few hours the numbness wore off and pain kicked in.
    It was the normal pain at first, so i took the pain meds that were prescribed. But after waking up the next morning i realized something was wrong b/c the left side of my face was still swollen and tender but the right side was extremely swollen and severely painful. I had to reread the post op paper i was sent home with being i was given no instructions on pain. The paper described a dry socket, but said not til the 3rd day. So i took pain meds and tried to brush it off. But each hour the left side got better but the right side just got more severe to the point it brought me to my knees in pain. I knew something was wrong. So i called oncall doc that night and was told to come in next day even tho she didnt think it was dry socket b/c it was only 2nd day.
    So next day i went in to office she determined it was dry socket. So i had cloves placed in and sent home. That night i was in severe pain again but even worse to the point where i started to feel dizzy and super fatigued and sharp stinging pains ghroughout my sinuses and occipatal bone. I called oncall doc again that night they explained your in the peak of your surgery thats why. So i took hydrocone but 15 minutes later the pain came back. So i went back next day and the surgeon who performed my extractions put another clove in. I explained to him that i felt something more was wrong than just dry socket. He did nothing but suggest a sinus infection and prescribed more hydrocodone and stronger antibiotics.
    By the 4th night after surgery, the left side of my face was completly healed, but i was on my knees crying from the right. It was still completly swollen and i couldnt open my jaw on the right side at all to brush or chew. So i scheduled an appt with primary doc next day. I was also supposed to go back next day to surgeons office to have clove removed. I went to scheduled appt w/primary doc first. I explained to her i was feeling extremly weak and could barely open my eyes due to severe pain in sinuses. But 5 minutes into visit i developed sharp pains in my head neck and throat i couldnt even stand up straight. The office wouldnt let me drive home and sent me to ER downstairs immediately. Long story short, they performed a CT on my head and ran blood work. The ER doc walked in 2hrs later and asked “when did you have your wisdom removed. I asked why. The ER doctor told me the surgeon broke my maxillary facial bone while removing my lower right wisdom tooth. He said thats why i have been experiencing all of this severe pain in my sinuses and right side of my face,jaw,neck,head,mouth. He referred me to plastic surgeon to be seen the very next day. He offered to give me morphine thru my IV but i dont like that stuff. He put me on a new stronger antibiotic (3rd one since surgery) RX mouthwash and pain meds. So an infection wouldnt spread to my face. He also called my oral surgeon that night and left message.
    The next day i saw plastic surgeon and he told me it was definitely broken and said my sinuses were inflammed and there was blood buildup in my right sinuses due to broken bone. He said i would be experiencing this pain for next couple months and it will take awhile to heal. 3 days later and still no call from my oral surgeon. I go to see another oral surgeon tomorrow to get second opinion as to could this have been prevented. Can i sue and do i have a case? Any opinions would help. Thank you

    • Sinus infection is something that can happen during surgery, along with a broken jaw bone, or maxillary facial bone. The consent form explains this and since I am sure you signed it there is most likely no case. I am sorry to hear that there was no contact from the office or the doctor. I am sure he is a good person and would like to help in anyway he can. It is painful to feel like you are getting the run around. Hope you heal and feel better.

  29. Is it possible to show negligence if a Dentist is overbooked and working on too may patients at one time? I know a Dentist who triple books his schedule and right now has 2 pending lawsuits. I feel the reason why, is because he is not properly caring for each patient and juggling from room to room. Can this be proven by his schedule?

  30. My father had his dentist with steel pin simply cleaning his back tooth. He made a mistake and the pin went to the back of the side of the tongue. He screamed and the dentist said “Sorry…” Dad should have tested it earlier when he was not telling the family about this. Drinking more alcohol for pain. Finally went to his (old man) main doctor who said “Hmmm, dunno, about to retire so go to this other doctor.” The new one found that it looked really awful. Another oral real doctor found out after test ASAP “Yes, tongue cancer.” 16-hour oral surgery. 1/3 of tongue off. Never could eat again of course. 2-3 times at home pints of blood from his mouth. Another surgery. Still cancer. Only a year – but probably a year OK because of horrendous pain – he passed. Passed simply at peace thankfully. I’m glad my stepmother has not told me the dentist who he was. I would call and scream him. I’m not a lawsuit guy just my sweet father, and I know stuff like this happens. But I don’t think I’ll ever go to a dentist again. I’ll clean on my own. No metal stuff in my mouth from an outside human.

    I’m crying again right now.

  31. I have a question regarding extraction of first/second molars. Ex: A patient of five years needs a second molar extracted. Doctor and patient agree extracting the tooth is the best option. Once the patient is numb, the doctor begins to extract the tooth and after all is said and done, he spent nearly 2 hrs using extreme force. The patient asked him to stop after approx. 30 minutes, but he doesn’t and once the numbing has worn off, the dentist administers more and resumes force. Patient asked dr. to stop, told dr. the jaw pain was horrible, asked to be sent to Oral Surgeon. Each time he assure the patient it would only be a few more minutes. No sutures were used although the chart says otherwise. Dry socket occurs and patient rcvs treatment from dentist. Patient told dentist they think their jaw is broken. Dr. laughs. Pain management treatment began via primary psychian. Several months after no relief, pt sees oral surgeon and the MRI reveals complete destruction of soft tissue in jaw and damage to other side as well. Pt. has open surgery to reconstruct jaw. This is all fairly cut and dry; however, the question is at what point should the dentist have stopped and sent the pt. to an oral surgeon?
    Thank you for the helpful information via your site. It’s difficult to find an honest professional these days.

    • Hi Sally – Most guidelines state that a dentist should refer to a specialist unless they are able to match the quality of care that would be delivered by the specialist. If you feel that it is highly likely that the oral surgeon would have done a much better job with the extraction, then it probably is more cut and dry. If a patient asked me to stop and refer them to the oral surgeon, I would have done so. The point at which a dentist stops during an extraction would depend on their skill level and how confident they are that they can remove the tooth without major trauma.

  32. Tom, thank you for replying. Yes, I asked him to stop. Unfortunately he did not. I’m currently in “talks” with his malpractice carrier. I don’t want to become rich as a result of his poor decision making nor is it my desire to harm his practice. He is a good man, not always a good dentist. Indeed he tried to perform something beyond his level of skill in my case and I suffered great trauma, I do believe in a fair compensation. I am not reporting him to the board by choice. I think this would be a spiteful thing for me to do if he is willing to work with me. I also think this is a learning opportunity for him in regard to listening to patients, accepting the fact he might need to refer, etc. Tom, would you use force for nearly 2 hours with only local?
    Also, is there any affordable means by which to get an expert opinion. I already have one; however, that was available to me on the condition I use the attorney who paid for the opinion. In my heart I could not use any attorney because the amount they were seeking was astronomical. Which leaves me in the positon of providing a written expert opinion for the carrier. Are you aware of any program or dentist who provides low cost written opinions? The carrier isn’t asking for medical records, only dental and wants the opinion based on dental records, the injury, the required surgery, etc. I truly believe the dentist and even the carrier are willing to offer compensation. They require the opinion and this is the only hold up for me. Like most, I do not have the means by which to pay $2,000 for this. It would be wonderful if each dentist with high ethics would write one free opinion per year providing a data bank for patients to turn. That would be advantagious for the dentist as well as patients.
    You are providing a forum most in your position would not even consider. You are to commended.

  33. I am writing for advice on what I should do I am currently seeing a general dentist which I got some smart information to late I am being treated for orthro and its been a year have have been concerned about some issues be when I ask about them I told don’t worry well I went and got a sec opinion and as I suspected there is a problem due to having four teeth extracted and the dentist not closing those spaces soon after the extractions the bone has started to deteriorated where they were pulled and the person I received my second opinion from said that the braces will most porbably close so now I will have to have implants Put in those places and have gum grafting done what do I do

  34. I went to have an old root canal tooth extracted. My oral surgeon cut my tongue, I have stitches and my tongue is swollen and hurts terribly. He said that the tongue retractor did this, I wasn’t breathing and they pulled my tongue so I can breathe and now I have a laceration. He stitched up my tongue. What are you thoughts to this matter, I know many people who have had a tooth extracted and never there tongue cut. He said it was a simple procedure and doesn’t know why I’m in such pain.

    • I think you answered your question in your statement, you were not breathing. He did this to help you breath. He helped you and the side effect is a sore tongue for a few weeks. We were not there and don’t know what and how it happened but it sounds like you were in the care of a good doctor who knew what to do when a patient is having trouble or stops breathing. The other alternatives to not pulling your tongue wold be death, brain dead, or other problems associated with not breathing. May be a thank you would be in order.

  35. My friend had a simple procedure filling a tooth, when the dentist completed she told her you may experience some pain for a couple of days because you bit your buccal area, 3 days later her face started to,swell and she was in intense pain. Since it was a Saturday the office was closed when she called. She went to the ER where they did a ct scan and seen a foreign object in her buccal area 2 days later she went to the or for removal of the object and the ENT surgeons could not remove the object than because of the infection and in fear of permantly damaging the facial nerve, the infection was drained 14 mm of fluid, they took her back to surgery 3 days later to remove the object and the object was a piece of the dental instrument. Was n the hospital for over 1 week. The ENT surgeons did take photos of the instrument and they documented their findings in her medical charts. The instrument was wedged in a muscle in her buccal area, I don’t know but I wonder if it was the dentist that cut the buccal area and that’s how the piece wedged in? I do know that the Ent surgeons never seen a case like this before

  36. Tom, I recently found your blog. I am disappointed to see that you are actually a dentist. I read a few of the comments and advice you have given , especially while in dental school, and am stunned at the mis information. May be you were not informed to never talk bad about another dentist because you don’t know under what circumstances something happened. There are always two sides to a story and in most cases what the patient thinks happened is not what actually happened. There are side effects and risks to procedures performed, things happen out of the doctors controll, these are called risks. That is why there are consent forms, to inform the patient of what could happen. I think you will re-read the advice given and realize some of it was poor and incorrect and you will regret it. it can never be taken back. That advice is not helping anyone. Most dentist are trying to help people, better smiles, alleviate pain, prevent pain, they are not trying to hurt anyone. One day you might find yourself in a lawsuit because a dental student thinking he knows everything gave misinformation, assumed, and poor advice to a patient now trying to get money out of you. It will then cost thousands to defent yourself over misinformation and a lawsuit that will be eventually dismissed because the standard of care was followed. This is not meant to be rude or in anyway mean. I hope you well in your dental career.

    • Hi Nate – I tried to sympathize with those who had unfortunate events happen to them. I agree that there are always two sides to every story and patients only share their side on this forum.

      I am only trying to help – if you can point out misinformation that I have given, I would really appreciate it and will gladly correct it.

      Thanks for your comment – comments like these ultimately help me to provide people with a better, more accurate article. Have a great day, Nate!

    • Hi Tom,
      I am a dentist practising in Australia.
      I agree 100% with Nate above. As much as this blog is good for patients to discuss their issues, it is difficult to determine over the internet what actually happened in their situation. Every procedure has risks and complications. There are patients on here complaining about a rough filling and it seems a bit much to sue your dentist because your filling is a bit rough..! All dentists, doctors and other health professionals are not out to get patients. They are all working together to try to improve the patient’s well being.
      Since you asked Nate to be more specific – I understand this is old, but About your response to John in 2010 – “I’d probably be with those 99 dentists that wouldn’t have attempted the extraction. It’s not fair to the patient if I don’t have the experience to perform a quality extraction and decide to try it anyways. Believe me, I’ve tried extracting some wisdom teeth here at dental school and I’ve decided that I’ll probably be referring out those extractions to a specialist”.
      There are times when I have started a extraction, have had the tooth fracture on me halfway during the procedure and I have then referred the patient to an oral surgeon to assess whether the root fragment needs to be removed. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain from a pre-operative xray the nature of the tooth/its attachment to bone.
      Another example is starting endodontic treatment on perhaps a 47 and discovering difficulty instrumenting one of the canals to the ideal length for whatever the reason, then at this point you decide to refer the patient to a specialist –> From the pre-op PA you might not have been able to determine that this was out of your expertise.
      A good general practitioner will determine when to refer, and use their specialist colleagues to their advantage. Referral of patients is not incompetence. Also if a general dentist starts a procedure and decides to STOP as in John’s case, and there is no harm done (like his second dentist said!), that is good practice, as he has recognized his limitations and decided to stop.
      We had an very interesting lecture from an oral surgeon when I was at Uni; she stated: “There are 3 types of dentists. Those that have been sued, that are being sued and those that are waiting to be sued”.
      We all practice with caution, care and try our best to communicate well with our patients. The problem with dentistry is that patients already hate the dentist even before they come into the surgery, are anxious and have most likely waited for their problem to become worse therefore now they are in pain and expect pain to be resolved on their first appointment (“I need a fix”), and lastly, dentistry is expensive – they already hate the dentist for the bill. Sometimes patients do not realize that when they file a complaint to the Dental Board, the Board carries out a formal investigation (at least they do here in Australia), and most times even if you as the dentist know you are in the right, it is very unsettling to have them sending you letters about their “investigation of your performance”.
      If someday in your career, a patient is sitting on the fence deciding whether to sue you or not or call the Dental Board etc, and they go online and read some random blog then get pushed to sue, it will cause you a lot of distress (even if you win!) as no one likes being investigated.
      As dentists, regardless of the States/Aus/the UK, wherever in the world, lets try to have the back of our colleagues and give them the benefit of the doubt.
      I am not trying to be rude in any way, and I apologize if I have come across that way. All the best with your future endeavours.

      • This is the problem with dental “professionals”…..even in schools they are taught not to listen to their patients, that their patients are essentially just looking to sue them.The public are well aware of the “we stick together” mentally of dentists which makes them harder to trust. History tells us true horror stories about dentists-that continue today..(you wont find a person in any other profession that works as hard at defending others in their field to their patients, even if its clear that the patient has been wronged…this type of extreme defence of their colleagues makes the patient feel unheard and once again trust is lost) Having dental treatment is uncomfortable, can be painful an IS unnecessarily expensive and when a person outlays a substantial amount of money for something they expect top results and if expectations are not met that is when problems arise. (I have worked in a dental surgery for many years, so please don’t try to tell me that the costs are justified) Nobody wants to get injured or end up with nerve damage after seeing a dentist or oral surgeon. Quite often the way in which the dentist or oral surgeon deals with a patient who has suffered injury will determine whether or not a patient will seek compensation for damages. Many problems that I have seen in my time would not have occurred if more time was taken with the patient, talking about possible risks etc. (instead of trying to maximise profit for the day by seeing far too many patients) Nobody is saying that if you start endo and you don’t feel comfortable finishing it or the file breaks and you cant retrieve and need to refer to specialist that you shouldn’t…..What the public wants, is to be informed that this type of thing can happen. Not everyone has been to dental school, most people will not even understand a procedure when you explain it to them, but taking the time with them to discuss a procedure that you are about to perform in a human to human type manner can make a huge difference. Nobody is going to file a complaint to the dental board if they have been treated with respect and care. Nate your dismissive response to the person’s post regarding their broken maxillary is exactly why people sue dentists….

        • Great response. Absolutely right.
          While some dentists do the right thing and are truly excellent at their job, others are fit only for ditch digging and even then couldn’t be trusted to do a proper job!

          This goes for all professions by the way – not everyone belongs in a profession just because they chose it – some people are truly awful at their chosen profession and need to recognise it. Harming people is a lousy way to “earn” a living.

      • Hey there, John, how about you have the back of your clients, who are the ones paying you for treatment and to look after their teeth?

        Some dentists are excellent. Some are simply incompetent morons who should not be practicing, who do not communicate with their clients and who, when clients tell them not to do something, or they are in pain etc ignore the clients and do what they want to do, with horrible results for the client.

        There is one priority for a dentist – duty of care for the client they are servicing, who pays heavily for the service.
        Your priority as a practicing businessperson is NOT other dentists, it is the person buying your services.
        Bad dentists are the ones who ruin it for the public and increase fear of dentists, because of the awful experiences and treatments they have inflicted on people who are trying to look after their teeth.They make you look bad, not clients who are trying to fix their teeth via dental professionals.
        Don’t make excuses for bad dentists – no one is out to get you and your answer up there makes you look very bad, untrustworthy and unworthy of consultation.

        Did you notice I don’t use the word “patient”?
        I’m a client, and I’m a very tolerant person. Too tolerant – I have had appalling service by a couple of dentists, have been left with lifelong consequences and I, and potential clients, owe such incompetent practitioners NOTHING.

  37. Hi Tom. Im so glad you wrote this article. It lets us know that even though bad things happen, there is still kindness in the world. On March 2, 2013 I took my 12 yr. old to his orthodontist appointment. I thought that it would be the routine changing of the brackets and wire. I had let the staff know early on that if they were doing something different than usual to let me know. Well… they didnt! There was a different orthodontist there that I had never laid eyes on before. He started taking a bonded retainer out of my sons mouth using a high-powered drill. Well, my son has never had a drill in his mouth before and the orthodontist didn’t let me or my son know what he was about to do. Had I known I could have calmed my son and told him not to be afraid of the noise or flying sparks and that it would be ok,but i didn’t know and neither did my son. So when the Dr got close to my sons gums with the drill it scared him making him jump and the orthodontist punctured a hole under the tongue area of my son’s mouth.After all this they still did not come and get me to let me know what had happened. My son was crying and he tried to get up but they were trying to physically hold him down until the assistant saw the hole and said oh no let him up! They still did not come get me. The Dr and other staff was still trying to get him to sit back down so that he could finish drilling. When my son refused to get back in the chair and told the staff, dont touch me is when they came and got me. My son was hysterical and his mouth was bleeding. I asked the Dr. what did he do to my child. He told me to calm down and that it wasn’t that serious. My son was throwing up in the sink and I gave him a cup to rinse his mouth so I could see in it. He had about a 1/2 inch hole under his tongue. I was furious. the staff told me to calm down trying to hold my shoulders and trying to hold my son. I told them not to touch us and that I was not going to let that Dr. touch my son again.The Dr. was trying to remove my sons bonded retainer from his bottom teeth when all this happened.They should have told me what they were going to do. I am so angry right now!!!! I heard one of the assistants say that she didn’t know why he was using a drill down there in the first place. Well that same assistant was the only person he would let touch him and she removed the metal part of the retainer that still remained around his tooth with an instrument that looked like a pair of wire cutters. Now my son is afraid of the dentist and he didn’t use to have this fear. He use to love to go there. He would rather go to the dentist than his regular pediatrician, but not anymore. I’m a single mom and I’m so frustrated with this place. I dont know what to do next or where to take him. Only certain places will take our insurance (medicaid) that is how we ended up at this particular office in the first place. I don’t want my son to be afraid to be treated. The orthodontist didn’t get a chance to change my sons brackets or anything because my son and I were both too upset for that. If anyone has any advice for me, please help!

    • Hi Alberta – I am sorry that this happened to your son – it does sound like a traumatic experience. It is unfortunate that you weren’t informed as to what they were going to do. Has the orthodontist followed up wtih you to make sure that your son is doing ok?

      • No Tom. I havn’t heard from the orthodontist himself, but the practice administrator called me and I wish she hadn’t because she made me feel even worse. When she called she said I’m calling to see how your son is doing. I told her that he was traumatized and her response was, ” Aaaah yeah and how’s his mouth.” I told her that it had still not healed. I also asked her why wasn’t I told of the treatment change and that no one had told me anything was wrong with my son’s retainer.She didn’t answer me. I asked her if I could speak to the assistant that was there the day of the incident. She started getting smart and said, “That’s my assistant, what do you want to ask her?” I said, ” I want to ask her what happened.” Then she said,”what’s the difference between talking to the assistant and talking to me?” I told her that the difference was that the assistant was there when it happened and that she was not. Guess what the practice administrator did next?…….. She started laughing at me! At first I thought I was hearing things, but my daughter who was sitting close beside me could hear her too. I could not believe it.! I was feeling angry, and just mentally drained after that. I can’t even tell you how bad that made me feel! All I could do at the time was pace the floor and cry. I just kept saying to myself, “Oh my God!” I have been calling around trying to see if I can get another orthodontist who will accept transfers for the kind of insurance that I have because I do not want my son to have to go back there ever!

  38. Hi Tom. My names Sam from Manchester, UK.
    I had my upper left wisdom tooth removed last week (thursday 28/02/2013). When he removed the tooth there was a large piece of bone that came out with it, the dentist didnt seem suprised by this. When i told him i heard the a terrible cracking sound he then informed me that was probably due to the large amount of bone that came out with it. Since then i have been in constant pain even though i have been taking Paracetamol and Ibuprofen and was even prescribed anti biotics 2 days ago!
    I had quite severe swelling which now seems to have gone down slightly although i can still feel a very hard round lump..?
    I cant open my mouth wider than my little finger so can only eat soft foods i.e soups, scrambled eggs etc.

    I just wanted to know is this normal? Im reading alot of people saying they have experienced Trismus after this surgery but i dont recall being informed this may happen?
    Is this a form of dental negligence?

    I was already scared of the dentist but this has made my fear so much greater, im due back tomorrow but dont have a clue what he will suggest because my mouth just wont open

    If you can get back to me with any advice that would be extremely helpful.
    Thank you Sam

    • Im so sorry to here that this happened to you Sam and I hope that someone on this forum can help you with this situation. I will be praying for you.

    • Hi Sam – There are a lot of complications that can occur when getting your wisdom teeth removed. Most offices have you sign a consent form that goes over all of the complications. Trismus is one of the more common complications, as is bone getting removed from your jaw. As far as the trismus goes, it is not negligence, it is a common complication.

      It should resolve within a couple of weeks. Your oral surgeon might recommend applying moist heat and doing saltwater rinses to keep the area clean until you are able to open adequately to maintain proper oral hygiene. I hope that helps – know that wisdom teeth are some of the most invasive procedures we do, and you made it through that – I hope that your fear has gone down now after your follow-up visit and things get better from this point!

      • Hi Tom. Thats the thing I cant remeber signing any kind of consent or anything. With all the trauma etc ive been through i cant remember if i did or i didnt, but im pretty sure i didnt:-\

    • Hi Sam,
      Sorry to hear about your distress, and considering it is November hope that everything is okay now. Upper wisdom teeth are meant to be relatively easy extractions as there is no tooth behind it and most dentists believe they can be pushed out of their socket. Unfortunately in some cases, the tooth does not budge, and we find that it is firmly attached (or ankylosed) to the alveolar bone. You have stated that that some alveolar bone was removed during your wisdom tooth removal. This isn’t rare.
      When this happens it is usually standard to prescribe antibiotics and tell the patient to try to avoid blowing their nose etc – to try to prevent a sinus communication.
      You may have had limited mouth opening due to trismus, and also because of your complex extraction.
      Unfortunately this is one of the risks associated with an extraction and I do not believe the dentist was being negligent.

  39. Hi Tom, THANK YOU so much for your article. I found some comfort in it after my horrible experience. Please help me. I believe my dentist is being unethical. I had tooth #5 treated and a filling was placed. I complained to the dentist that the pain in my gum persisted and that the filling did not help. He then saw on the exray that “contact” between the teeth was not made. So now there is an open margin where food continues to get trapped in still causing the irritation and pain in the gum. Now, he has to re-treat it again because of his poor work, but because now he has to fill the tooth again, he claims that he has to remove more tooth and this tooth, as a result, will need a crown. OK, wait, so now I it went from a simple filling to needing a crown, and this is because as a result of his bad work. To add insult to injury, he states that I have to PAY for the crown on top of it. I wouldn’t even need the crown had he done the first procedure correctly. Needless to say, I am going to go the legal route. My pain continues, I am now needing to subject myself to more pain of procedures, time lost and basically losing my tooth. Can you please tell me how to find justice in the matter. I live in florida. Thank you so much for you empathy and help with this. Rachel

    • Hi Rachel – If there was an open contact, it should be able to be closed by adding some more filing material in (assuming you had a tooth-colored filing, and not a silver filling).

      It can be a gray area as to when a tooth needs a crown vs. when a large filling is acceptable. Your best bet might be to get a second opinion at another dental office. If you call the office and explain your situation, some offices may give a discounted or even free second opinion. Good luck, Rachel!

  40. How do I prove #2. Wisdom teeth removed on Friday. Called emergency line with pain and unusual swelling the assistant over the phone said it was normal healing. Went into the office Monday. No oral surgeon available. Same assistant looked said no infection. Tuesday oral surgeon finally looked had CT scan done showed airway was almost closed. Ludwigs angina was the diagnosis. Rushed into the operating room at the nearest hospital. They had to cut into neck to drain. 4 drain tubes 2 in neck (nice scar now) 2 in mouth. There till thursday. That’s the short version.

    • Hello Kim. I hope your condition has improved and you are feeling better. This was a terrible thing that you experienced, but just know that you are in my prayers. I hope and pray that everything works out for the best.

  41. I had a bad tooth pulled 2 weeks ago, and the doc put 2 stiches in, i didnt think 2 was enough, 2 weeks later Im still in as much pain as before he pulled the tooth,. Ive gone back twice, the first time he said it should be feeling better soon give it more time. I went back today and now he wants to send me to an oral surgeon, when I told him I cant afford that (due to no insurance) he said he would do the surgery himself, Im concerned, because it was a simple extraction and now it has turned into needing surgery, Im nervous about having this Dentist do any kind of work to my teeth now. Did he do something wrong? I dont know how this turned into having to have surgery,
    The dentist is going on vacation and said he would do it when he got back, meanwhile Im in great pain.

    • Hi Tammi. One thing that I am learning is to follow my gut instinct. If you are feeling nervous about having the surgery done by this particular person there’s usually a reason for that!

  42. I can’t seem to find any answers for my problem.
    I had root canal procedure done about 3 years ago and now I’m just finding out that a recent bump on my gums is from an infection. There was a file left in my tooth! That means this was overlooked in the follow up check-up and the yearly check-ups. Not only that but its almost been 2 years were I have had chronic fatigue and I am just learning now that this could be caused by the infection that has been building up this whole time. I’m a 25! I should be bouncing around still.
    I am told this happens all the time and that I need to get it extracted and replaced with an implant or worked on. All of which is going to cost me well over $2000. I have no insurance coverage for Periodontics or Endodontic work so I my question is… Besides for explain these things to my dentist can I take any legal action to help pay for any of the procedures involving this botched root canal? Is there some sort of insurance that dentists have that covers situations like mine?

  43. in march of 2012, i went to northside medcial center we decussed getting some of my top teeth removed leaving back four teeth to act as a bridge for partials, he then sent in the prior auth. form. i recicved the letter from caresource saying partial/or full dentures have been approved, i made my appointment, went in and he started pulling my teeth the nurse helping him told him we are going to get in trouble, he replyed no were doing a full extracting, i didnt know what that ment, he gotten 3 removed and i started to shake,sweat felt like i was going to pass out he stopped and gave me alittle bit of sugar water and then started again at this time i dont know whats going on cuz i must of blacked out because i dont remember the rest of the proceture. i remember sitting up and him telling me i will have to come back in 2 weeks to get stitches removed, went back and got them removed, i was having some pain i told him i believe there is still a peice of tooth still in there, he told me i dont think it is i think its peice of bone or fragment but he would do xray to make sure, took the xray and sure enough he came back and said yes it is a peice of tooth and he then would remove it, he removed it, he then told me i would have to come back in 3 months to get my dentures, have to wait for gums to heal before we could start on my dentures. june came around i went in for my first impressions and he then told me after that day i would be getting a different dentist he was leaving he interdoced me to a woman who would be my new dentist and assured me she was the best and she would make me a beatiful smile. i went in to get my second set of impression they made me gag so bad. my next vist i picked out color of teeth and gums. next vist i tired the wax ones to see how they looked, i told her i didnt like them they were too big and i didnt like them, she ignored my complaint. and made appointment to pick up my dentures. couple weeks later i went in to pick up my dentures, i put them in and i told her again they were too big she said i would have to get use to them, not to take them out no matter what, well after getting home and not being able to eat or talk with them and looked like my top lip and skin above lip was big. i removed them and made a appointment to have them adjusted, she adjusted them back and down alittle i was able to talk alittle better but still strugled to talk and eat, i cant eat with them or without them. my gums healed uneven, went back again, the last time i went to have them adjusted she took alittle more off the back and said she cant take anymore off, that i would have to deal with the pain till my mouth got use to them, well i cant get use to them, and if the org. dentist wouldnt of pulled ALL my teeth i wouldnt be going threw this torment, so i called my insurence companty and asked them about dental implants, they dont pay for them. i feel they are nessercsy, i still cant eat right and still talk goofy, and very depressed seems like noone cares and noone willing to try and help me. my last vist to northside dental clinic was either september or october 2012.

  44. Hi, my situation myt not b as bad as u guyz, but its stressing me out…i recently had an infection on one of my molars, the dentist told me i had only 2 options, either a root canal or extraction, i asked if there was another option n she denied. i coudn’t afford root canal, so i did the extraction. Afterwards another dentist told me that i cud av saved my tooth if i was given antibiotics instead of extraction…i think she preferred an extraction because it was more profitable (at the expense of my tooth)…can i sue?

    • Sadly there is no law suit in the future. Antibiotics plus a root canal would saved the tooth, not antibiotics alone. Extractions are a fraction of the price of a root canal. That is why you could not afford the root canal but could the extraction. Sorry, you feel stressed out about this. Hope this helps

  45. I lost a filling and had a big hole in my tooth. Made an appointment with my dentist very soon after I lost the filling.
    My appointment was 10 Dec. 2012, the dentist checked my teeth, told me I had lost a filling and made an appointment for 21 Jan to get it filled. I said thats a long time to wait and he said with Christmas and New Years coming, thats when I could come back. He cleaned and scaled my teeth and left the big hole.

    I developed a big lump around the 15th of Jan.,right above the tooth with the big hole, The lump was sore and painful. I went to my appointment on the 21st of Jan and asked the dentist what the big lump was, he said he didn’t know but he would fill the tooth and imf the lump didn’t go away in the next few weeks to come back.

    The lump didn’t go away and I called for an appointment to find out the dentist was on holiday and would’t be back for about 4 weeks. There was a replacement dentist who I mad an appointment with. I went to see her about a week later and she said “lets x-ray the tooth. She found it was infected and had died. She said I have two choices , either have the tooth extracted or have root canal work. I told her I didn’t want to lost the tooth and would go for the root canal. She made an appointment to have the tooth pulp removed and said when the regular dentist returned, he would do the root canal. She gave me a quote for the root canal at $1500 plus the crown.

    I feel I have a good case of negligence as the dentist left the hole open for 6 weeks and then filled an already infected tooth. Please tell me what your opinion is? Should I take him to small claims court? Do
    you think I have a chance of winning? Thank you

  46. I saw a dentist today. She gave me a rather painful injection (I think she hit a nerve)
    So i exclaimed “god damn” after that she forced me out of the office and did not finish filling the cavity. Basically she gave me a shot. If a dentist starts a procedure how is she not obligated to finish? I am thinking about reporting her to the board? What should I do? She just left me with a numb mouth and now a lot of pain.

  47. Hi Matthew. I know that dentist must have really hurt you for you to curse out loud. I don’t think she should have refused to see you though. You were just reacting out of shock and pain. The dentist probably was embarrassed when it happened. Usually when they make a mistake it goes unnoticed, but when you yelled ” God damn” Well, there was no hiding that!!!!!!!!! Hopefully you can get your mouth taken care of and soon!

  48. Hi Tom I think it’s so great that you help people on here :) 7 yrs ago I had 3 wisdom teeth pulled. I am a dental assistant/orthodontic Assistant. So when it came time to get my wisdom teeth extracted they were not impacted. I just knew its better not to have them cause they are not used anyway and they are hard to clean. Anyhoo long story short … The best oral surgeon in The town left a tip of instrument in my jaw. Crazy I just still till this day can’t believe it. I found out about the instrument by the dr I was working for at the time. During the procedure I had 16,17 32 extracted no nerve damage thank god but its # 17 that he worked on the longest and I understand why because he knew he broke a tip off and was looking for it and he never told me. After I found out about having a piece of instrument in my mouth I went to visit him. He said its fine and he wouldn’t remove it. So at the time I looked for a lawyer and no one has answers for me. I haven’t been able to find someone to help me in this situation.

    • Thanks Amy. I sympathize with your situation. Just yesterday I did a complex extraction case and broke the tip of a surgical drill off in the patient’s jaw. My assistant told me she suctioned it up, but I took an x-ray to be certain that I didn’t leave anything behind. Luckily, nothing was left.

      Unfortunately, instruments breaking does occur from time to time. I would imagine that most dentists would tell the patient when something like that happens, but sadly, not all of them do completely inform the patient as to what has happened. Have you tried asking the oral surgeon to remove it? What kind of resolution are you hoping to get?

      Thanks for leaving a comment.

    • The statute of limitations starts in most states 2 yrs after finding out about the problem, in this case a instrument left during a procedure. For example, it took you seven years to find out about the object you have two years to act. The time will vary for each state. Most states have a dental board that will mediated problems that arise like this without going to court, this is faster, less expensive, and very helpful. Google search the state dental board where you live,call, explain the situation and they will contact the Dr. and start the mediation. The best you might get is the surgeon will pay for you to go to another surgeon of your choice to have the object removed. (This is usually due to most people will not return to the original dr that caused the problem.) In my opinion it is not a good idea to have a foreign object in your body, even if it has been seven years.
      Good luck

  49. Thank u for understanding :) I asked if he could remove it and he said its better not too. You are such a good dentist to take a X-ray and be concerned and care for your patients :) he never took a X-ray afterwards. He took a new one when I went to go visit him when I found out. He said he didn’t want to remove it. He told me I f it made me feel better he would take a 3d X-ray of it so we could see it closer. I don’t know what kind of resolution I want. I just feel I paid him good money to do his job and I trusted him. Now I’m stuck with this tip in my jaw…. So yea I hv tried to let it go… Life’s too short to stress….

    • Have you asked him to refund the cost of the extraction due to the complication? He may consider that one. Other than that, if it’s been in there a long time, it may cause more problems than it’s worth trying to get it out. It may be a good idea to talk with your dentist about it and take routine x-rays to make sure that there’s no sign of infection or problems where the instrument is stuck. Keep up the good attitude, Amy. Thanks for your comment!

  50. Hi Tom,
    It’s comforting to know that other people are going through what I am going through. I’m so very upset! I went to my dentist on 3/9 to get my teeth cleaned and whitened. She told me I needed 4 crowns due to my teeth being cracked. Of course I believed her, but decided to only get 3 crowns because I have no insurance. 6 visits later, with crowns being constantly sent back to the lab to be reshaped, they are seated. Last week when I went to have them seated, she wasn’t there and had a stand-in dentist perform the seating. I didn’t notice until too late that his hands were very palsied. Long story short – my bite is now off by at least 1/8th of an inch – molars don’t touch – splitting headaches and jawaches – can’t eat or sleep. I did research her before I went, but upon doing much more intensive research have found that she was arrested last year for 7 felony counts including insurance fraud and obtaining controlled substances. Case has not been disposed yet. Found many more people online who claim she performed unnecessary work – clicked in my head “needs to pay legal fees”. I paid in advance, and have an appt with another dentist tomorrow. I don’t want 1st dentist in my mouth anymore….can I get a partial refund to pay new dentist for resetting my bite???

  51. I lost a filling and had a big hole in my tooth. Made an appointment with my dentist very soon after I lost the filling.
    My appointment was 10 Dec. 2012, the dentist checked my teeth, told me I had lost a filling and made an appointment for 21 Jan to get it filled. I said thats a long time to wait and he said with Christmas and New Years coming, thats when I could come back. He cleaned and scaled my teeth and left the big hole.

    I developed a big lump around the 15th of Jan.,right above the tooth with the big hole, The lump was sore and painful. I went to my appointment on the 21st of Jan and asked the dentist what the big lump was, he said he didn’t know but he would fill the tooth and imf the lump didn’t go away in the next few weeks to come back.

    The lump didn’t go away and I called for an appointment to find out the dentist was on holiday and would’t be back for about 4 weeks. There was a replacement dentist who I mad an appointment with. I went to see her about a week later and she said “lets x-ray the tooth. She found it was infected and had died. She said I have two choices , either have the tooth extracted or have root canal work. I told her I didn’t want to lost the tooth and would go for the root canal. She made an appointment to have the tooth pulp removed and said when the regular dentist returned, he would do the root canal. She gave me a quote for the root canal at $1500 plus the crown.

    I feel I have a good case of negligence as the dentist left the hole open for 6 weeks and then filled an already infected tooth. Please tell me what your opinion is? Should I take him to small claims court? Do
    you think I have a chance of winning? Thank you

  52. Hello,

    Thanks Tom for setting up this site.

    My dentist, whom I really liked, retired. I decided to switch to a dentist near home. I went there and was told that I needed two fillings, one on each side of my mouth (both between teeth, which was new to me). The dentist did both fillings the same day. When I was at the appointment I decided that I wouldn’t go back to this dentist, since he put his tools down directly on the counter, not on a tray, which bothered me.
    A few weeks later most of my top teeth were achy and my gums around the fillings were sensitive. It didn’t go away so I decided to go back to my retired dentist’s office to see the new dentist. I made an appointment, and had the dentist’s office that did the fillings send the xrays over. When I was at the dentist, I was told that my teeth were sensitive because my teeth were hitting the fillings. The restorative hygenist, whom I thought was the dentist, told me she was going to file down the fillings so that my teeth weren’ t hitting them. I only had 2 fillings yet she filed down 4 teeth. AFterwards I found out that she wasn’t the dentist… she called the dentist in to look in my mouth. He seemed more concerned about another tooth which he said needed major work… news to me.
    I went home and immediately the pain magnified in the four teeth. They were now extremely sensitive to air hitting them, which impacted my sleeping. I started haviing to take pain killers.
    10 days later I went back to the dentist’s office. Again the restorative hygenist said the fillings were hitting and that she was going to slightly adjust them. I questioned her on whether or not she was taking any of the teeth off… she said no. AFterwards I asked if I could see the dentist and was told no.
    I went home, and the pain was even worse. It was affecting my sleep, my ability to focus at work, etc.
    6 days later I go back to the dentist with questions and great discomfort (having lost 10 pounds since I was often nauseous and finding it difficult to eat and sleep). I tell them that I am very concerned that enamel was shaved of my teeth and that I would never have given consent for dentist/ hygenist to touch teeth without fillings. The dentist tells me that enamel is very thick and that it wasn’t touched. He tells me that he wants to help resolve the pain, and tells me that he is going to remove the filling on one side and pack it with antiseptic and a temp filling. I come in the the next day for the procedure, desperately looking for relief. Before the procedure he has the hygenist test my teeth with extreme cold… telling me they are trying to avoid root canals (which freaks me out… since I never had sore teeth in the past). He puts in the temp filling on one side, tells me that he is going to file down the filling, then says he is going correct the bite on the other side.
    When I left the office, all was good until the freezing wore off… at which point I start feeling extreme pressure in my head and an very ill feeling. The dentist filed my teeth down so much that only my molars touched!!!! By the next morning I felt incredibly ill from it. I call the dentist office and tell them that I need a mouth guard or something to relieve the pressure, looking for immediate relief. I’m told that the dentist I saw wasn’t ill till Monday and that he would want to see me. My early morning it was impossible for me to get past the pain… I had to leave work, and my husband took me to emergency with great pain. The doc gave me pain killers and a prescription in case I had a tooth infection. By the evening the pressure in the head was too much to take. I called the oncall doctor and was referred to the emergency on class dentist. He saw me the next morning, and ended up gently filing down my molars so that my teeth would touch again. This helped relieve some pressure almost immedietely

    I have been left with 4 very sore teeth that are very sensitive to touching, brushing, temperature, pressure, etc, all my molars shaved down, a completely new and uncomfortable bite, pressure feeling in my head, weight loss, loss of appetite, and feel that I am going to have problems with the four teeth that they shaved down to the dentin. I also can’t believe that this happened to me and my healthy teeth. This pain is having a huge impact on my life. I have left work ill, have had to take time off work because of pain, often have to lay down during work to relieve pressure in my head. Plus this mouth discomfort is always present and has impacted my evenings at home and sleep.

    A dentist I saw afterwards told me the original discomfort was likely from the white fillings and should have given them time to adjust. She also told me that the enamel has been shaved off of those teeth exposing the dentin, and that they will be sore. Ugh! This really sucks!

    What do you think Tom?

  53. My wife is 51 years old and had 2 wisdom teeth and 2 others extracted at one time. She was in the chair for over 3 hours. I have done some research on this. I found that she should not have been in there that long and they should not have pulled all the teeth at the same time. Now my wife is suffering from atypical trigeminal Neuralgia. Our daughter is in med school and told us this will be very expensive to have fixed IF at all. There was never any discussion of what might happen upon extraction of the wisdom teeth. This was just doen in Feb of 2013 and there is a statute of limitations on going after the dentist for malpractice of 2 years. We have been told by many lawyers already that”its expensive and takes a great deal of time” so nobody wants to help us. TN is called the suicide disease and it kills me to see her in such pain. I cant even kiss my wife becuase of the shooting pains it causes her. She has lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks becuase she can’t eat. What do you think? Should I approach the dentist with this and see what they say or keep trying to find the right lawyer? All I have read online states that this is one of the easier cases to settle, due to it wasn’t there and now it is due to oral surgery. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    signed….missing my wife

    • Sorry to hear about the adverse event from the outcome of wisdom teeth extractions. It is sad when these things occur. Trigeminal Neuralgia is a risk of having teeth extracted, it is not a more common side effect but nerve damage is a side effect. Three hrs for wisdom teeth extractions is a longer appt for dental a procedure but is not rare. If you have Trigeminal Nerualgia the best option is to visit the neurologist. He will know best how to treat TN. This is probably not what you want to hear but I hope it helps.

  54. Tom,

    My husband woke up May 9th with swelling in his lower left jaw from his left ear to the center of his chin below the jaw line and a painful tooth. Went to the dentist 9am that morning. She said he had and abscessed tooth, he told her he had one bothering him on the other side. She looked at it and said it was abscessed also. Prescribed penicillin for 7 days and made an appt for root canal 8 days later. By 4pm that afternoon the swelling had doubled from ear to ear! By noon May 10th he called the dentist office and another dentist talked to him. My husband explained about the swelling doubling in size, his jaw muscles felt tight and his tongue felt swollen. The dentist told him the antibiotics take 24 to 48 to take affect, take 4 ibuprofen 4 times a day with the penicillin, use ice for swelling and that was it. My husband followed the instructions verbatim. The next day he there was no improvement. Throughout the day his ability to swallow decreased and he was unable to eat. May 12th 3:30am he woke me up and asked to be taken to the emergency room as he was unable to swallow anything and unable to take his medication. by 9am the er called an oral surgeon and by 10pm on May 12th he was having surgery for Ludwig’s Angina. He was on a ventilator for 11days and in ICU for 16 days. He has been unable to swallow since coming off the ventilator and is still in the hospital where 3 drs are confiring whether or not to place a gastric tube in his stomach so he can eat. He has lost 22 lbs since being admitted to the hospital. So my question, is this a case I should go and speak with an attorney? Does it fit the criteria?

    • Wow what a story, such a long time in the hospital. I feel terrible for you and the troubles you have been through. To be short and to the point. The dentist did not do anything that would be lost in court. When there is an abscess and swelling occurs the standard of care is x-ray and antibiotics, then treatment to resolve the cause of infection. Again sorry for the troubles and good luck.

  55. Hi
    I had 2 x lower impacted wisdom teeth extracted under sedation and block in day surgery 8 weeks ago. I have since has numbness/burning/tingling and loss of taste on the right side of my tongue. The oral surgeon said that there was nerve ‘bruising” but he did not do it. After 2 further weeks with no improvement he sent me to a nerve specialist who confirmed lingual nerve damage.

    I confronted the oral surgeon about damaging the nerve but he says he did not see or touch the nerve. I am left wondering how the nerve was damaged if he did not touch it! Is it common for an OS to deny damage that only he could have done.
    I am concerned that I the sensation loss is not improving with passing weeks. I think he has breached a duty of care. The incidence of nerve damage was understood to be less than 2% but now he says that it is “100% because it has happened”.

    • Dear Tracey and others suffering with burning, tingling, metallic taste, numbness or pain (ear, tongue, throat, head, cheek) following a dental procedure, please read and contribute to my blog at http://lingualnerveinjury.blogspot.com/.

      We also have a wonderful Facebook page where you’ll find lots of support from the group, just go to FB and search on Dental Lingual Nerve Damage; it’s a closed group but we’ll accept your friend request. I hope you are one of the 85% that heals soon!

      Jane

  56. Hi everyone,
    I had my tooth extracted, because of my dentist fault as well. I have not applied for claims yet, because I am not sure yet if I will win, but I am sure that 4 criteria meet.

    During my appointment for root canal treatment, my dentist was cleaning roots, then he filled them in and burned something on the top, because I was supposed to get a crown on it. He has done few x-rays during whole procedure I am not sure in which stages. And after last x-ray, he noticed that he left a small piece of broken needle in the root.

    I was suffering pain for few weeks that is why I was prescribed antibiotics. I was told that he cannot fix it and letter to dental surgeon was sent. The answer was to remove it. Then pain was gone for few days, until it came back and it was even worse. I could feel top filling moving a little bit, so I had nothing else to do, because only option to loose the pain was to remove it.

    It was a left side bottom tooth so as it was extracted I was suffering for a week, but it would not heal – there were too many peaces of a bone/tooth left in a hole. I was spitting them for few days. I went to them to clean the gums… Got them cleaned. Totally it took me two weeks to loose constant pain and another month to heal the gum.

    I cannot forget what I was going through with that pain and they did even took payment for every single meeting and treatment, so I not going to leave this as it is, it is only I am not sure If I can win this and how I can do it.

    Kind regards

  57. Hi, Tom
    I have a question
    I brought my 3 yr old for a filling
    While getting the filling she was wrapped
    In the blanket with straps she would not
    Calm down she bit the little bite guard
    It twisted and cut out her perfectly fine
    front tooth she is now toothless in the front
    Till her adult tooth comes in 3 to 4 yrs

    Question is this neglect on the dentist
    Side I warned many times that she will fight
    And be upset they didn’t let me come back
    With her and just assumed she like the rest
    Of kids upset but will calm down but she didn’t
    Dentist sent nurse to say sorry that is all thanks

  58. Hi about one year ago my Oral surgeon took my 4 wisdom teeth out causing many complications like dry socket, he left a whole in my upper tooth wich caused a bad infection but the very sad part was the alveolar nerve paresthesia, for the first couple months I have a terrible pain, feeling somenthing cutting my lip, chin and gum. Then feeling pins and needles. After 4 months the pain stoped. But for one year, half of my lip, chin and gum still with paresthesia, I can’t use the floss because is painfull , if something hot touch my lip the pain is 10 times intensed and if I need to scracth my chin I have to make the smile face to feel my nail. How long do I have to wait for this paresthesia going away? I can’t take it any more. Is alredy one year and last time I saw my Dr was 4 months ago, since this. Day nothing change my next app will be in 3 weeks, I’m taking vitamine E but it doesn’t work. Thanks for your time

  59. Tom,
    Thank you for this page – it’s nice to hear your perspective. I went on a round robin dental adventure when I couldn’t determine why I was in constant pain following a filling procedure. I went to a two Endos, then to a friend’s oral surgeon, none of whom could determine the cause despite xrays and CT scans, the OS referred me to a dentist friend of his.

    That dentist didn’t know either, but said he was going to file down one of my molars, in case it was irritating my tongue. I told him I was 99% certain that was not the cause of pain, it never bothered my tongue before the filling, and now I feel a constant scraped/burnt feeling on that side of the tongue.

    Instead of smoothing the endges, he drilled so DEEP in the middle of the tooth that I now have a hole where food collects, all day long, any time I eat anything. I am constantly having to pick food out of that gaping hole. Now it’s starting to feel swollen and decayed, and I’m sure it needs work; since it’s already got a root canal in that tooth, not sure what’s next, removal?

    Is there any remedy I can get from this dentist? To add insult to injury, I paid hundreds of dollars to have him permanently disfigure my tooth. There may also be a statute of limitations – this was 4 years ago. Had I realized the long term problem he’d caused, I would have done something sooner, knowing now that I’ll be picking food out of that spot forever (if I can manage to hang on to that tooth).

    Many thanks for your response.

  60. Hi! I went to the dentist almost a year ago and I had oral work done. I dont know whether it was due to dental malpractice, but i developed life long nerve damage on the right side of my face! I went to the ER countless times, and delayed looking for work because of the pain that kept me from eating, drinking, and even sleeping. I was put on mulitple pain medicines because none of the physicians and medical specialists knew what was going on until I moved to SC this year and was diagnosed with Trigeminal neuralgia. My neuroligist says this is a lifetime thing and the medicine is expensive, which is not helping because i’m a single mother that works only one job to support my daughter! Its a shame that it took us to pick up from one state and move to the next because my doctor in NJ didn’t know what to do either and just continued to put me on pain medication that wore off with a few days of taking it! What should I should do? Do I have a medical malpractice suit? Help!

  61. I have just completed four months of stressful communication with the New York County Dental Society. I chose the option of have money refunded to redo dental work on crows and a root canal cause by the same dentist in preparing a perfectly good tooth. When I went to my present treating dentist he was horrified by what he saw….not ony ugly, ill matched teeth but open margins, puffy gums, actual decay under the crowns which had not been removed by original dentist. I documented his findings and he wrote a simple clear letter about the findings and I thought I would receive a fair, impartial inquiry form the County Society. Nothing could have been further from reality. The panel actually attached me and characterized my current treating dentist as an ambulance chaser. I was willing to let bygones be bygones. I just needed the money I had paid him…after four visits I realized he didn’t know what he was doing….He did know how to intimidate me enough to get all the money however. People need to know that peer review with New York County Society is a complete fraud. They have no interest in maintain nor elevating standards in the profession. They are only there to protect their own and this is so insulting to the consumer. To begin with it take a lot of fortitude to go before five dentists all alone….then to be insulted and realize you have worked hard to bring the truth to a totally rigged game. It’s devastating. Where DO seniors turn? The big firms only want you if your are near death and worth millions. mary Ellen rooney

  62. Went to dentist last friday he said i had infection and he gave me antibiotics and set me up for surgery i even asked if i still had the infection if they will still do surgery the dentist i saw said that was a good question and answered yes. come thursday the Oral surgeon cut my wisdom tooth out and it’s just got worse I think I still had the infection when he cut the wisdom tooth out. The wisdom tooth wasn’t the infected one though… Thursday night I was dizzy light headed and running a fever and sWelling friday my fever got higher and swelling got bad swelled my right side of face up looked like i had a baseball in my jaw and swelled down into my neck and was getting hard to swallow i was scared about my airway closing on me and the fever so I went to ER where I live they ended up sending me to 2 hours away to a bigger hospital. they were concerned about my airway and being septic. Also i may need surgery too. Tests come back the infection isn’t in my blood stream. Yesterday a surgeon come in to see me the swelling/infection spread further over into the left side of my neck now so they took me to surgery and put a drain tube to try to drain out some of the infection. He mentioned maybe having to go in and remove some of the infected tissue too but waiting to see how it goes . I’m on strong antibiotics and was in ICU for 3 days now after the surgery I am on the surgery floor. Thursday was my dentist surgery and Friday I went to ER and have been in the hospital since does it sound like I have a case here ? My little girl is Afraid of me she wouldn’t hug me or kiss me before I was transported out to the other hospital, my doctor bills are stacking up from being in here, I had to have surgery and i was do scared. My first surgery ever was that wisdom tooth extraction so going into a second surgery at the hospital freaked me out. I am so upset, in pain and tore up over this whole thing. I’m still in the hospital and missing the important things I have to do. I just don’t know what to do.

  63. Tom,

    My situation is sort of unique. I am currently under the care of a periodentists for a dental implant of one of my top canine teeth. The tooth was extracted in January 2011, and healed within 6 months for the procedure to continue. At that point, X-rays revealed I didn’t have enough bone built up so I had to have a bone graft done. I had the bone graft done and it healed for about 6 months. At that point, I was ready to have my post for the implant put in in April 2013. I went in for surgery on a Thursday after being gassed and driven home. On Monday, I learned that the post had been put in, but immediately taken back out. The area was stitched back up so healing could start. The reason the post was taken back out is due to a crack being noticed on the X-ray after it was put in during the surgery. Furthermore, there was no back-up post available to put in during surgery. According to my dental surgeon, the post was faulty and a company representative went to the office at some point to see the post. After the area healed for 5 months, I learned that I had to have another bone graft done because not enough bone was there again. I recently had that surgery done in Sept 2013 and am in the process of it healing to hopefully have the post put in.
    Based on all I have went though up to this point, I have considered suing the company that manufactured the faulty post. From what I was told, the post was damaged prior to it being put in so it wasn’t the fault of the surgeon or her office. I haven’t mentioned this to my surgeon as I want to get the process completed before doing so. Do you feel I have a strong case, and what should be my next step if I have a reason to sue. Thanks.

  64. I found your article very interesting. I recently took my minor child to a pediatric dentist listed as a provider for Peachcare/Medicaid. He went in for tooth pain in his left premolar which was determined through xray to abscessed and could not be saved. The treatment plan was to place him on antibiotics and bring him back in a week to extract the tooth and place a spacer. At the next visit, I was asked to sign a consent that called for a crown instead of extraction because the dentist was going to do a pulpotomy to try and save the tooth. If, after cleaning out the pulp, she determined it could not be saved then she would extract it. Who am I to argue with a professional? Plus I wanted what I hoped was best for my son. 2 1/2 hrs later he comes out with an ugly steel crown on his right premolar ( a tooth with nothing wrong with it BTW) and the abscessed tooth still in his mouth. There is not one doubt in my mind that this was done deliberately to upcharge his insurance which is nothing short of fraud. Would you say that this dentist breached her standard of Care and caused injury because of that breach? I am sick of people telling me that “it’s only a baby tooth” and that there’s no real injury. What she is doing is wrong and there’s no telling how many low income children’s mouths she has ruined by doing these frivolous procedures. I’ve talked to several parents that took there children to this dentist and were told their kids had a mouthful of cavities that needed fillings, only to get 2nd opinions that indicated there were no fillings. How do you stop a mobster like this who is using her dental license to mutilate children ‘s mouths? Ive filed criminal charges with local police and a complaint with dental board. But tge police wont do anythibg agaibst her if and until tge dental board tells them to. Its shameful that medical license can protect a butcher like this!

    • Dear irrratemomma,

      Sorry to hear about your situation.
      A pulpotomy and a stainless steel crown are more ideal than an extraction if a tooth can be saved.
      It seems strange that in your son’s case he had this done on the right premolar, when you signed the form saying it was for the left..
      I hope the dentist mentioned why she didn’t resolve the abscessed tooth on the second appointment and also clarified why the right premolar required a stainless steel crown. Hope you have managed to discuss these with the dentist to obtain a satisfactory answer from her.
      All the best.

  65. My teeth were botched up by a dentist. Has anyone else in Maryland had a similar thing happened that wants to sue? Email me.

  66. I had a dentist one time cut my gums up to the gum line, making my teeth looking much longer, and I had trouble using hot and cold in my mouth, was that malpractice? he was so rude, he didnt want to answer any of my questions before the procedure.

  67. also some people dont know that students who are in their clinicals can work on your teeth, and if they make a mistake, its all on you. I had a student work on my teeth and she was talking and laughing during the root canal, years after I still feel pain, which means she didnt take out all the nerves, so dont allow no students or interns to work on your teeth. With an intern doctor at least the most they do is listen to your heart and lungs, but no operations.Some interns and students work on patients especially in the Carribbean and other developing countries, because there is no suing the doctors, people are so poor they just live with the pain. A friend of mine who was pregnant the doctor put his finger too far in her vagina, she lived with the pain for months, and she was 7 months pregnant, she was too scared to tell anyone, but she said while she was sitting and waiting, she saw him side looking her, so some doctors go down to the Carribbean, but hate working with people of color, but they want the extra pay and reduction on their student loans. It was a very bad experience for her, she knew something was wrong, and I believe he hurt the baby’s head, because she said the baby’s head moved and wont go back in the original spot. People just need an ambusman for doctors in the carribbean like a board to make complaints.

  68. Hello to all that is reading this. I am posting this in hopes of getting any kind of feedback.

    My situation is not as extreme as some of the cases that I read before mine and I totally empathize with all of you.

    My situation: I went to Dentist A for a root canal (Shame on me for needing one). The first appointment was the standard consultation. During the second appointment he attempted the root canal but during the process I felt a sharp pain shoot down inside my mouth. I was told that he could not finish the procedure because my tooth/gum was infected so we must wait a few days. I came back (appointment 3) and he cleaned my canals but said that the infection was still there and he would not be able to finish the root canal at that time. I scheduled appointment 4 and then went home, but the pain never subsided. It just kept getting worse. It got so bad that I contemplated going in to the ER. Instead of an ER visit I waited for Dentist A to open up the next day and contacted them. I was told that the doctor was out and I was referred to their sister office, Dentist B. I went in that same day. He took a look at my tooth, told me to come back the next day and he would clean out my tooth and insert some medicine into the canals so as to help with the infection which he felt was the cause of my pain. When I came in for my appointment the first thing he did was take an x-ray. What was shown was a piece of tool stuck in my canal. He was unable to get it and referred me to a specialist, Dentist C. Well Dentist C was unable to get it out and he did not recommend the surgery because the risk of nerve damage was too great due to the closeness of my tooth to my main nerve. He attempted to finish the root canal by sealing up the instrument. However, that did not work because a couple weeks later the pain got worse (the initial pain never stopped) so we decided that the best thing to do would be to pull it. So I was sent to Dentist D for the extraction.

    My question is: Is Dentist A at fault for not realizing that he broke this tool off in my mouth and do I have a case at all against Dentist A for the pain, suffering and the loss of this tooth?

  69. Hi, Tom and thanks for your website. I have a condition that probably isn’t all that rare but disturbing all the same. Nearly two years ago, I had a root canal done by the area’s “best” endodontist. It was crowned and ok, although I had some pain in it at times. Before long, I was seeing my regular dentist for a cleaning and she expressed her concern that the tooth next to it was dying, as the color had changed. After a night of pain, I called my regular dentist again, but she was out with surgery and her assistant again referred me to the same endodontist. He was out of town and I was hurting horribly. I saw a new associate who said almost immediately that I needed a root canal and crown and gave me the option to do it immediately. I asked if it was worth saving since it was dis colored so badly. Of course, after taking $300+ of X-rays, he said the tooth needed immediate care, so I agreed and had to pay over $1500 that day. He got into the tooth and said it was badly infected and he would clean it out, seal it, and set up a time to finish it in 6 weeks. I was given antibiotics. Before it could be finished, I started having strange pain above the tooth, nausea and jaw pain. The response was more antibiotics. I was very leery about finishing the procedure, but would not be refunded any money and was afraid to do anything else. Oh, and he said that strange pain was trigeminal neuralgia!!!! He finished the root canal, and I woke up in horrible agony that evening. You guessed it, more antibiotics. I finally went back to his office. He pulled up the final X-ray he took after completion of the procedure and said it looked fine and even got my original endo to come in to the room and reassure me that they both had done their jobs beautifully. They advised my regular MD to get me on meds for TN. I saw my regular dentist who trusted the endos. I saw my regular MD and was given tegretol which caused my thyroid activity to decrease, cholesterol to go up and complete inability to focus or remember important things. I stopped the medicine but continued to be I pain. I had an MRI scheduled to look into using a gamma knife for my TN.

    After over two months of hell, I decided to have the tooth pulled. Due to the root canal, this had to be done by an oral surgeon. A panorex revealed nothing, but I begged the oral surgeon to keep looking. Finally a small X-ray of that one spot revealed infection at the root. The endo didn’t get all the infection and I kept telling all the doctors that. My jaw was swollen, I developed arthritis on the left side only (where the tooth was located) and had horrible headaches. It cost another $2200. I feel the endo should refund my money and pay for the costs I have incurred trying to get relief. I now need an implant which is an additional $4000. I feel the endo was negligent as he was so busy telling me he did nothing wrong that he wouldn’t look to see if there was a problem. Thanks for any help I can get here. My son is an attorney, but not a medical malpractice specialist.

  70. Hi Tom,

    Thank you for your blog, dentalfearcentral.org I got more info from your website than what I got from my dentist or endodontist! I was recently referred to an endodontist for a root canal on 31 and infection removal. Once it was done, I went back to the dentist who said the root canal was not filled properly all the way to the apex and I had to go back. This time, I could feel the endodontist injecting anesthetic, kind of a sudden mildish pain.

    The right side of my tongue is still numb although I have had no lip numbness, so the mental nerve appears not to be affected. However, a week after the injury, I feel some sensitivity in the gums of my front teeth. Right side of my tongue really burns, especially the tip and side of the tongue. Under my tongue, it feels like it is clamped down and have some pain. Occasionally, that pain migrates towards my right ear and right side of the throat.

    After reading about lingual nerve injury, am starting to freak out. I am not even sure if it is actually lingual nerve although the endo told me so. Will I ever get back to normal? The endo said it will heal within 3 months, but I don’t trust that endo anymore. Should I see an oral surgeon or a neurologist? I am not suing, my questions are more about what I should or can do now. I am taking vitamin b 12 & b complex, not sure if that can help but I want to try anything and everything at this point. Please help! Thank you.

    Nicolas

    • Nicolas,
      It is actually a good sign you feel some burring and tingling with your tongue and lip. The nerves regrow slowly and it could take 3-12 months for them to fully return to normal. It should begin to improve a little every day. Follow up visits are typically 2 wks, 4 wks, 2 months etc.(how ever the Dr feels he needs to see you) Also an RX with medrol dose pak and an anti inflammatory motrin or ibuprofen is recommended,
      Hope this helps

  71. Hi Tom,

    Two of my teeth got cracked because of a filling procedure that I had done. I have never had any pain or anything until after the filling was done and the dentist must have cracked them from the drill. Do you think that qualifies as an injury from malpractice because I need 2 crowns now as a result.

    Thanks

  72. 6 years ago, I had a sensitive filling. The dentist suggested a root canal. After that, he placed a CEREC crown on. Out of the CAN/CAM machine, it was TOO high. He ground it down flat, then “put some anatomy on it”. Over the next year, I cam in 4 times for an adjustment. After terrible TMJ pain, I came in again. The covering dentist told me to go immediately to another dentist since 6 of my teeth had moved more than 5 MM due to the high crown. After 18 crowns on those 6 teeth (the teeth kept moving out), two implants due to cracked teeth during treatment, and 5 years of TMD, I have the a terrible bite (many teeth may hit, or just one may hit depending on how much I move my occlusion. The worst part (If it can get worse), is that my wife of 13 years has had enough of my constant pain. We have NEVER had a fight and she loves me, she just can’t continue with me always in pain and not wanting to do anything. She is taking our 2 and 4 year old daughters with her. I now have to come out of retirement since I was a SAHD. I have over 50K in trying to resolve this without any success. Did I mention I ended up Depressed and spent 2 weeks at a mental hospital. I am medically apathetic and anhedonic (cannot enjoy anything that was previously enjoyable). OK it can get worse

  73. can i do anything about my dentist he had pulled a tooth withough giving me infection pills first he pulled on it for over and hour hr and hurt my jaw after that i was in so much pain i had to go to the hospital twice and the second time they put me on iv my face and neck and my throat were swollen and made it hard to breath plus he gave me diff meds cause i did not recieve the right ones i had this done 10 days ago and it still hurts and has not healed my face is still swollen i had to miss a week of work plus pay over 100$ for pills plus paying the dentist is there a way i can get that week of missed work back and the money for the meds he described ?

  74. Hello,

    My husband went to the dentist earlier this yr to have 2 wisdom teeth extracted. By a regular dentist not an oral surgeon. Well this dentist broke off a drill bit n his jaw deep n the bone. Then the Dentist ripped my Husbands sinus canal. My husband has been in so much pain n the last four months its ridiculous. My husband is having more headaches & neck pain. In my opinion this Dentist does not need to b doing dentistry work. Its been horrible! My Husband just not has been the same since. I feel so sorry for Him! Last night he woke up with his tongue feeling like electricity running through it. Its been tingly all day. :( We are talking to a Lawyer. Is this something to pursue?

    Thank You!

  75. Hello Tom,

    I hope you’re still answering emails. I had a crown put on by a new dentist. She cut my gums during the procedure and never told me. I complained of discomfort and went back in three weeks. She said there was nothing wrong and still didn’t mention the fact that she had injured my gums. I saw my daughter’s dentist while in Utah on vacation who sent me to a specialist. The specialist said I had a gum problem and recommended I see a periodontist. When I got home a periodontist repaired my gums (almost) for $900 dollars. Can I sue?

    axe

    • Hi axe – I try to answer a lot, but I don’t get to many of them due to my schedule. Many times while cutting a tooth for a crown, the gums can be inadvertently grazed. Was the cut deep? Usually smaller cuts should heal on their own. If you have it well-documented, your best bet would likely be to talk to the dentist and see their side of the story and then explain that you had to have this other procedure done that cost $900. I would be interested in what procedure the gum specialist did that cost $900, and if the whole procedure was to simply repair what the other dentist did. Good luck!

    • The procedure was a free gingival graft, even if the gums were nicked or damaged by the drill, it would heal back to normal with in a few weeks. Most likely what happened is the tooth needed a graft to add more protecting keratinized gum tissue. This tissue is important for long term health of a tooth to protect from recession , inflammation , and bone loss. This is especially important when a crown is added to a tooth.
      I am sorry the dentist did not address nicking the gum tissue around the tooth, he probably thought it wouldn’t be a problem because it is normal to have this happen durning dental procedures like crowns. After having done thousands of crowns it becomes common for things that are normal to the dentist because they are seen every day but abnormal for dental patients since most people don’t have crowns placed every day. You have most likely benefited from a good second opinion, and a referral to a specialist for a procedure.
      I hope this helps.

  76. I went in to the dentist to have 4 teeth removed. She partially removed one. It broke off at the root. She took X-Rays and scheduled me for “surgery” a week later and sent me home. The surgery appt wasn’t for surgery, it was to schedule surgery. We asked for antibiotics and she refused saying they weren’t necessary. 3 days later I had an infection and still had 4 days before “surgery”. She even told me you’ll get this tooth out Thursday and feel so much better. Thursday came and I went in to see this surgeon. She said she was not doing surgery on me that day and if I didn’t like I could go somewhere else. I left and called a surgeon I know and trust. I got in the next day for surgery. Turns out I didn’t just have a tooth broken off at the root. She punctured my sinus and broke my jaw. I had to have it repaired, a bone graft, and the other teeth removed correctly. The dentist took X-Rays, the surgeon took X-rays, why did none of this show up on them and why would she think it was perfectly acceptable to send me home without antibiotics with a broken tooth and open wound? I have spoken with several people who all say I have grounds for a lawsuit.

    • Hi Dawn – Perhaps she felt that she couldn’t remove the tooth all the way due to how the root was positioned. When this happens, you’ll usually form a blood clot that will keep the wound from bleeding as it begins the healing process. Many things do not show up on x-rays as they are two-dimensional pictures. It can be hard to tell if the sinus is simply “overlapping” where the tooth was, or if the sinus was actually perforated. Perhaps better communication is needed between the dentist and oral surgeon, which could have helped you get the tooth out sooner.

  77. My son who is 7 had a filling done a month prior to having to get the same tooth extracted by an emergency dentist which could not be covered my insurance so I had to pay out-of-pocket I contacted the dentist and try to get an appointment but the office was close they call me back four days later and I asked if they would reimburse me for the emergency visit considering the insurance didn’t cover it and it was on the same tooth that they worked on just four weeks earlier my son is seven and they expected me to leave him in pain for four days and take him to the ER untill the office opened. I would just like them to have to take responsibility for their actions and reimburse me for the money because I’m not going to let my sunset in pain until their office opens again this was his 2nd filling ever and the dentist office I recently found out has not a permanent dentist they have many different dentist working inside until they can find a permanent dentist because the one that has his name on the building has moved to Hawaii do I have any kind of claim to get the reimbursement for the service at the emergency dentist?

    • Hi Kendra – I’m not sure about that one. Have you gone to the office and spoken with the office manager? Depending on the circumstances leading to the tooth extraction, they may be willing to work with you. Good luck!

  78. At 16 2 eye teeth on the bottom set of teeth still hadn’t come through, even after the assistance of braces. So the surgeon performed the exposure and as the teeth were still in the bone a bracket and chain was applied and joined to the braces to help them come up.
    The first time the orthordontist applied pressure to the teeth, one of the brackets ripped off right through the gum(extremely painfull) and the other tooth refused to move! The four teeth in between were pull down into the gum and ended up on a servere angle.
    Investigating the procedure, the surgeon had left a piece of bone above the tooth and had attached the bracket to the front of the tooth. The piece of tooth above the tooth died and there was no way the tooth would ba able to be pulled up, hence the bracket poped off. I went back to the surgeon who’s attitude is that ‘ it’s the mouths fault’ said he would have to do the procedure again under a general and at my cost! I got another opinion i the chair and the bracket attached on the top of the tooth. In 6 weeks after the pressure has been applied to the tooth it is making progress upward. There is still a hole where the bracket ripped through, and i have been warned if it doesn’t close over it could cause problems down the track.
    As for the other tooth, not much movement, very likely the procedure will have to be also redone. Why do I have to pay for a surgeons bodge job!! Is there any claim that can be made in this instance?

  79. Hi Tom, I am a dentist in Australia, and I came across your website while searching for a case.

    I appreciate this article that you have written in its help for people with complications related to dental practice, but I am a bit concerned about you giving dental and legal advice while you were still a dental student.

    I am a fairly recent graduate too, and I have no issues with you giving advice as a qualified practitioner. However, I do worry about dental students giving legal advice to patients without understanding of possible implications.

    In the case where a patient do file a lawsuit against a dentist on the advice of a dental student, if the advice is not sound and the patient loses the lawsuit, the student in question and the university would be implicated should the patient decide to file another lawsuit against the student/university on the account of unsound advice and damages.

    When you identify yourself and give online legal advice, you may not legally be protected for unsound advice even if you identify yourself as a student. This may land you in bigger issues that giving advice to patients in your university.

    Just food for thought.

    • Hi George – Thanks for your comments. While in dental school, I did not identify myself nor my dental school for that reason. I consider the articles that I write here to be “patient education” which at least in the state of Virginia, doesn’t require a dental license according to the state’s dental practice act. I doubt that anyone would make the decision of whether to sue or not to sue based on anything I’ve written in any comments – I simply try to let patients know that even when they’ve been harmed, many times there’s no justification to sue. As I’m not a lawyer, I would imagine that the lawyers would thoughtfully make this decision with their clients.

      The internet definitely has opened many new channels of communication that we otherwise wouldn’t have. I think it’s important to embrace this flow of information.

      As far as the legality of everything, I just try to help people. There was a Texas Veterinarian that started charging people a fee for online consultations. Once you start charging, I think that a client relationship then exists where legal authority could be exercised.

      His website is still going strong – here’s a link to an article written about his legal case as well as a quote from him:

      “They are just going to have to adjust to the century we live in. The internet has just made a lot of things possible and desirable that probably weren’t desirable or possible during the horse and buggy days, and we’re just going to have to learn to confront those things.”

      Again, thanks for your comments – comments like yours and John’s do help me to try and be more thoughtful in my online communication.

  80. Hi my wife went to the dentist recently because she was experiencing a high level of discomfort in her jaw from wisdom teeth at age 29. They checked her out did x-rays and all that and decided to send her to an oral surgeon the next day. She had her teeth pulled and the next day she was in agony, the pain pills they gave her did nothing. So we went back to the dentist, and they gave her x-rays and checked her mouth. The dentist told her that she had trismus from a severed nerve from one of her shots, and gave her muscle relaxers. The next morning she was still in agony, and hadn’t slept in 3 days so we went back. Without even seeing her the dentist wrote out a script for stronger pain pills and had the assistant tell her pain and swelling is part of it, she was just going to have to deal with it. The next day her throat was so swollen she couldn’t even drink water so I took her to the ER, She had a massive absess in her jaw muscle and had to have surgery to remove the infection. They said one more day out of the hospital and she might have died. I’m not one who thinks about sue sue sue but, the dentist was neglectful and its going to cost a fortune, I’m just curious what are the odds of us getting some help from the dentist office without lawyers and even with them.

  81. My 19 year old son just had all four of his wisdom teeth pulled out (against his wishes) but was necessary due to one of them becoming infected. I asked if this was normally done by a dentist and was informed by our dentist’s office that their dentist does it all the time. Procedure day came and it only took the dentist 15 minutes to pull all 4 teeth. ( I questioned that one a little). Things were fine at first for my son until he thought the dentist missed part of one of his teeth. We called the dental office and were informed that sometimes it is just the jawbone that becomes “exposed”. ( I questioned that one as well). They asked my son to come back which he did and they scheduled another appointment for him the following week to “shave” it back. Now, my son keeps complaining about his tongue being numb still and the dentist reassured us that it has only been 4 days and that the numbness should go away. This does not at all sound normal to me. Any suggestions? Thank you.

    • This is very normal. The dentist is very good at extractions and most likely has lots of experience if he did them that quickly. Overall wisdom teeth cause more problems than not, if one of them was infected it shows one already caused a problem the others will likely follow. Wisdom teeth are so far back in the mouth they are hard to clean, and they cause bone loss around the 2nd molar if they erupt crooked. .There is a small number of people these 3rd molars benefit but for the most part they should be removed. It is a good thing and saved your son lots of time, pain and money by having them removed. I would also listen to what the dentist said about the numbness, and bone. He sounds very experienced and most likely tackles these issues all the time. He should feel better soon and if the numbness persists more than 2 wks without improvement go in and talk with the dentist. I am sure he is a caring man or woman and will take care of what you need done. Hope all is going better.

  82. For over a year i have been a patient of orthodonist for invisalign. 1st round of 12 trays made teeth worse. Then 2nd round of invisalign caused more problems. Now in 3round with same ortho. Without asking me he used drill cut my vaneered front teeth aggressivly leaving not even 1 mm before tooth becouse I askew why overbite was worse. After this front teeth became sensitive. Went to dentist he xrayed looked at xray then said you have incurred trauma recently what happened? I said no only orthodonics. He insisted I been hit in the face. I said no. He told me both front teeth had infection only incurred in trauma. Sent me to endonist today that dr asked me same thing after viewing xray. Insisting I had smashed my front of teeth. I said no. He replied only trama causes this type of injury to teeth. I said only invisalign now on 3rd round of treatment. He said teeth 8/9/10 have incurred trauma need root canal to save. All those teeth are vaneered and ortho agressivly cut all length off when I asked why overbite was worse after 2 round of invisalign. He cut all length of teeth showing overbite. I feel violated scared I am currently still in treatment and asking to see if aggressive orthodonics could cause the same look as trauma both drs insist happened. I baby my teeth and never had trauma. Please reply. God bless

  83. Recently I had my braces removed, the assistant who removed them was very rough, and my gums were horridly swollen afterwords(she proceeded to tell me it was my fault they were swollen, and I should brush more)once the gums had gone down, I noticed that every edge that had and glue on it, is sharp and chipped(none bad enough to need fillings according to the main dentist)….should I sue?

    • No law suit there, the problem is with braces food gets caught around our teeth much easier, we have to be meticulous about cleaning effectively and often. Sounds like your swollen gums were from food hanging around them causing them to become swollen and inflamed . The excessive cement is very easily removed but was most likely difficult because your gums were probably bleeding from inflammation making it hard to see all the cement. Simply go back explain there is still cement on your teeth and brush nice and effectively to have healthy gums and teeth.

  84. I went to dentist to get an extraction an she broke my tooth off said she can’t fix it refer me to new dentist but is going to cost more been in pain for a while

  85. I went to a dentist to have a root canal. Everything went well until one of her units broke. I was stuck in the dental chair for 3 hours while she was pressing really hard on the outside of my tooth and shaving the tooth manually. My jaw was very sore for several days after that. Anyway I was sent home and prompted to come back for a future crown. A few weeks down the road I was drinking some coffee and felt sensitivity around the top of the gum and tooth area to where the root canal was filled. I called my dentist and asked if it was normal to still have sensitivity in that area of the tooth and if they thought their were still nerves that were not dead. 2 days after that I was eating a corn beef sandwich with creamed cabbage on rye and I starting crunching on something. When I looked, my tooth that use to surround the root canal performed had broken off and all the material was exposed. Do you think my tooth may have broken because of her pressing to hard on the gum and tooth area without the use of her unit. And would I have a claim against her for a dental mistake for cracking my tooth? If her unit was not working properly should I have been prompted to reschedule?

  86. I have a question can i sue a dentist but they were working as pro bono or volunteer as whatever is call when they offer free clinic and the Medical Teams International.
    One dentist was fixing my thoot and she hit the nerve start doing a root canal but she did only to stop the bleeding and close my thooth so too much pain the next 3 days i saw another dentist that did the root canal but i guess i have a infection already since the first one did a bad job so now my tooth is painfull i have a infection and i can lose my tooth.
    Thank you for any help I need a direction since I dont want to lose my tooth I dont have the money to get a implat

  87. Wow, there are sure a lot of people on here with issues… hmmmm

    QUESTION…..

    I had a root canal from my dentist. The tooth (# 4) was fine but had a large amalgam so I asked the dentist to remove it and get me a crown or inlay. Of course, this turned into a root canal. It seems everything does….

    The dentist originally tried to refer me out to an endodontist (perhaps when she was busy) but then she was very glad to do it for me suddenly. I thought great! Anway, she did root canal and all kinds of other cosmetics including crown costing thousands. Then 6mos to a year later I have a fistula next to the tooth. I went to a different dentist this time as I lost trust in prior one and this dentist told me ” A CANAL WAS MISSED” during the root canal… WTF????

    So I am sitting here thousands light with a fistula and possibly a much worse infection on horizon….

    WTF??? Missed a canal????

    WTF?

  88. Hello
    I have been going to my family dentist for about a decade and I always thought he was a good dentist. I started going there after my mom’s friend recommended us this doctor that wasn’t too far from where we live.. I recently chipped my tooth and my dentist was closed, so my cousin took me to his dentist and he took some X-rays and looked at my teeth and told me I have 14 cavities!! I told him that can’t be possible I recently had a check up with my dentist the week before and he told me everything was fine… The doctor looked at me in shock and told me that I might need root canal on some teeth because the cavities were under previous fillings he showed me the X-rays on the compute and picture if the decay on my back teeth. I was shocked because I Always take good care of my teeth by brushing twice a day.. I was about to cry when he told me that some teeth might be removed if the cavity hits the nerve,but he told me that I’m way too young to do that. My cousin suggested that we should sue my previous dentist since I recently had a checkup and he didn’t notify me of this serious issue.. Any suggestions because I’m freaked out by this whole process on me I have an appointment with the new dentist in a few days.

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this I’m only 19 years old hope you can help me figure out what to do and if there is a chance of winning if we sue my previous dentist. (My mother also has had a bad experience with this dentist with a root canal he hurt her and she was in pain for about a week or 2 and he was the one to tell her she should get her tooth fixed which was fine in the first place, but he charged her for the procedure after he hurt her!)

  89. Hi there. I created a post back on July 4th about my 19 year old son having his wisdom teeth out. Nate replied and said it was “normal” sometimes for your tongue to be numb. It is now August 26th and my son is going back to the dentist because his tongue is STILL numb. Is this still considered “normal?”

  90. After my earlier blog….My 17 year old has an eye tooth on the bottom right has never emerged and now has been found to be ankylozed. The options as they have been given to us are:
    1. Have the tooth removed and a bone graft done – then have a bridge with false tooth….or
    2. have the tooth removed, bone graft done and move all the teeth on that side towards the front to close the space.
    What are the pros and cons?

  91. Okay…first I must say that some would tell me to suck it up and get over it….but as a mother I can’t let this go.
    We went to the dentist because my little on bit something and loosened her tooth. We made an appt. just to make sure everything was good…..while there they lost her tooth! It was her very first baby tooth! I’m so upset about this….I went back and they just giggled about it acting casual like it was no big deal. I guess it personal to me and my family, but come on….I didn’t tell them to remove the tooth either. =(

  92. I want to know if I have a case towards my dentist. I went for a regular check up, he explained to me that I would be needing two root canals to save my teeth. So I as anyone else am trusting my dentist. So we followed up and he started the procedure. He did my top root canal and then right below was where the second one would be preformed. During the second root canal the tooth cracked. He told me that it would now have to be a bridge. i was highly upset but it had to be done, so he continued to work and once he was “done” the nurse took impressions with some puddy. I go home with a temp bridge they made so my teeth wouldn’t shift. That same day the temp bridge came off and I noticed when air would go into my mouth that area was highly sensitive. I went the next day to get it replaced and explained it was sensitive, they never said anything about it. I waited a long time for my crown and bridge to come in because they lost my first impressions, therefore I had to get more impressions done and wait even longer. Finally I got them placed and I thought everything was fine, but little did I know I would be in so much pain and I have no idea which tooth its coming from. It could be my crown or bridge I have no idea and I went to an emergency dentist and he told me that my bridge was not sitting well. I want to fix my teeth and be pain free but the second dentist gave me an estimate as to how much he would charge me to redo the job and with this economy it really isn’t possible for a 20 yr old college student to come up with that kind of money.

    • Hi Bianca – It sounds like you’re in a tough situation. Is your new dentist willing to talk to the old dentist? If there is something definitely wrong with the bridge, you should find out what exactly the problem is and talk with the dentist who did the bridge to see if he would be willing to fix it for you. Good luck!

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