Most of the dental malpractice claims that I come across as an Atlanta dental malpractice attorney involve lingual nerve injuries or alveolar nerve injuries caused during dental procedures. However, there’s more than one way that a dentist can be reckless.
A woman in Somerset UK is suing her dentist for malpractice, after he extracted the wrong tooth. The story doesn’t end there. The dentist, who had discarded the extracted tooth into the garbage, then retrieved the tooth, and replanted it right back on to the patient.
According to the 44-year-old patient, her dentist erroneously extracted a perfectly healthy tooth instead of the rotting teeth. She realized it when she went home, and contacted the dentist. He called her back to his dental office for remedial measures, and proceeded to replant the extracted tooth. By this time, he had already discarded the healthy, extracted tooth into the waste-bin. Her tooth was retrieved from a waste-basket that had a lot of medical waste, including bloodied tissues, used needles and saliva wipes.
According to the toothpaste manufacturer, Colgate’s, web site:
When a tooth has been knocked out, the nerves, blood vessels and supporting tissues are damaged, too. The nerves and blood vessels can’t be repaired. That is why all avulsed teeth will need a root canal. However, the bone can reattach to the root of the tooth once it’s put back into place.
The odds of saving a tooth are highest in young children, but adult teeth can be saved as well. Only permanent teeth should be re-implanted.
It is important to get to the dentist as quickly as possible after a tooth has been knocked out. It is also important to avoid damaging the tooth even more.
Follow these suggestions to improve the chances of saving your tooth:
- Handle the tooth carefully. Try not to touch the root (the part of the tooth that was under the gum). It can be damaged easily.
- If the tooth is dirty, hold it by the upper part (the crown) and rinse it with milk. If you don’t have any milk, rinse it with water. Don’t wipe it off with a wash cloth, shirt or other fabric. This could damage the tooth.
- Keep the tooth moist. Drop it into a glass of milk. If you can’t do this, place the tooth in your mouth, between the cheek and gum. A young child may not be able to safely “store” the tooth in his or her mouth without swallowing it. Instead, have the child spit into a cup. Place the tooth in the cup with the saliva. If nothing else is available, place the tooth in a cup of water. The most important thing is to keep the tooth moist.
While it is not unheard of to try to save knocked out teeth in this manner, great care needs to be exercised to avoid infection and other complications. In this particular case, within a few hours of the procedure, the woman was in extreme pain, and had to be rushed to the hospital. She underwent an emergency dental procedure to remove not just the infected tooth, but also the healthy one.
Authorities in the hospital reportedly contacted local authorities about the incident. The patient has filed a dental malpractice lawsuit, and claims that she had to take several anti-hepatitis injections as well as undergo blood tests to rule out infections from the contaminated replanted tooth.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously and would like discuss your case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.