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How Common is Dental Negligence?


Dental negligence can lead to tooth and gum pain, serious infections, risk of heart disease, and death. Although personal injuries from dental negligence are reported less frequently than injuries from medical negligence, medical malpractice lawyers see many adults and children who are harmed from procedures performed by dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons.

How Often Does Dental Malpractice Occur?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), one out of every seven medical malpractice cases involves dental malpractice. It occurs when a dental patient is harmed through the provision of sub-standard care. Just as doctors can be held liable for medical negligence, dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons can be held liable for harm caused by dental negligence. Dental malpractice typically occurs when dental professionals make mistakes. Most of these mistakes are considered avoidable and preventable with diligent attention to a patient's condition and care.

A recent study by the ADA shows that most dental malpractice cases involved extractions. Out of 240 cases studied, most complications involved infections, for which 25 patients were hospitalized and eight died a wrongful death. The study also noted injuries caused by extraction of the wrong teeth, fractured jaws from dental implants, perforations of the sinus cavity, and severed nerves leading to permanent damage.

Common Types of Dental Negligence

Since pain is commonly associated with dental problems and procedures, many patients don't realize that complications may be caused by dental negligence. When complications arise, patients generally receive pain medications and antibiotics, and schedule additional office visits to resolve the problems. However, dental negligence cases handled by medical malpractice lawyers cover a variety of issues:

  • Improper extraction of teeth
  • Misdiagnosis of various conditions such as TMJ, gum disease, or oral cancer
  • Failure to properly treat complications
  • Failure to properly supervise dental hygienists
  • Wrongfully administered anesthesia
  • Lack of informed consent

Filing a Claim in Tennessee

In Tennessee, an injured party must bring a medical malpractice claim within one year of discovering the injury. By law, no claim may be filed more than three years after the date of the negligent action, even if the injury was not discovered until much later. If the injured party is a minor or mentally disabled, there may be exceptions to the time frame in the statute of limitations. Medical malpractice lawyers can guide people through the complicated process of proving that there was a breach of standard care.

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