Areas of Dental Negligence.

Dentist Holding Dental Tools

Most dentists do their best in a profession that is far from easy at times.

The width of the knowledge expected of our profession is increasing.

Equally, the costs associated with running a dental office and all the fancy equipment required now, adds another challenge as does the increase in the numbers of dentists and the perceived decrease in decay and such basic work available to be performed.

Unfortunately, while not everything can go the way we’d like in all procedures, there are times when the wrong thing was done for the wrong reason and the dentist is either unable or unwilling to resolve the perceived problem and resultant damage.

Sometimes the dentist is plain wrong and shouldn’t have done what he or she did, sometimes the patient is left with the problem and simply doesn’t know what to do.

A second opinion from another dentist requires the assumption (which may or may not be correct) that they have base knowledge and experience, know what happened, possible consequences and later costs, as well as how to fix it, but also (which may or may not be correct), that they are remaining impartial. After all, who will be paid to repair this damage?

Did the dentist provide adequate informed consent?

Failure to provide informed consent is a remarkably common occurence these days, along with appropriate record keeping.

Did the dentist diagnose unnecessary treatment?

Diagnosing unsubstantiated or unnecessary treatment(s) is unfortunately not an isolated or rare occurence any more. Practice costs and pressures can extend some practitioners values.

Did the dentist cause my jaw problem or other pain?

Causation of jaw problems (TMD) or other facial or oral pain is an area rarely considered which is surprising given its frequency and the general lack of knowledge of general practitioners due largely to poor undergraduate training.

Did the dentist make an inappropriate night guard?

Night (grinding) guards made inappropriately or without explanation of possible airway consequences can no longer be condoned. There is adequate evidence from several studies yet still, thousands of night guards are made in B.C every month, frequently with a total disregard to the potential medical consequences.

Did the dentist fail or delay to diagnose or refer correctly?

Failure or delay to diagnose or refer regarding a potentially serious medical or dental condition that consequently worsens leaves the practitioner open to legal action.

Did the dentist correctly in medicine and dose?

Much press has been dedicated of late to the prescribing habits of doctors and dentists and while it is clear that most indefensible, inappropriate and excessive prescribing is by medical practitioners – dentists must adhere to both codes and common sense.

Did the dentist damage or or cause nerve pain?

Did the dentist damage or or cause nerve pain is a commonly asked questioned and area of practice. Knowing the potential dangers of procedures in different areas of the mouth is a clinical requirement but often requires a balance of risk and an understanding of personal skill level too.

Did the dentist treat or remove the wrong tooth

Treatment or removal of the wrong tooth must be assessed carefully after the event to ensure that not only was there a mistake performed, but that damage will likely result and what all of the consequences will be.

Did the dentist performed the root canal treatment properly?

Poorly performed root canals resulting in excessive pain or continued infection or even the loss of the tooth is alas, not uncommon. Skill and experience may determine what can be achieved before it is done.

Has the dentist inadequately treated long-term disease?

Gum disease is progressive but often either missed or ignored. All patients should have a gum “charting” performed routinely. More teeth are lost through gum disease than cavities.

Sometimes dentists “look” for cavities to the exclusion of gum review, sometime searching for crowns allows a blindness to the basic diseases of dentistry. Being able to put an implant in its place when the tooth fails is NOT an adequate reason for ignoring gum disease.

Financial indiscretions

Financial indiscretion (s) were less common after computerization for a short period but are becoming more common despite this. Few medical or dental patients see what is billed through MSP or third party carriers and the choosing not to know, may carry unforeseen consequences to patients and/or clinicians.

I have seen members of the dental team steal and I have seen dentists perform the same illegal activities and successfully blame it on their staff. Clearly such activity is not always cut and dried. There are legal accounting firms well suited to these investigations.

GeneralIs the dentist clinically competent?

There are times when the dentist, despite appearances has done all they can and done it correctly but failed the ‘hoped for’ result.

There are times that patient’s expectations (with or without explanation) are simply too high. Equally there are times when this is not so and Dental Expert Witness can often highlight what may have been missed in the heat of the moment.

If you believe your treatment is not acceptable and you’ve been unable to resolve it, an impartial expert may help either resolve the problem or support you as your case advances.