As an Atlanta Dental Malpractice Lawyer, I see many pre-treatment x-rays that are below the standard of care because the films do not sufficiently visualize the root apices (root tips) of the tooth that the dental procedure has to be completed on. In many cases, this leads to an extraction or root canal which results in a permanent nerve injury to the client’s inferior alveolar nerve. If proper x-rays are taken by the treating dentist’s staff, the dentist would be able to see the apices, surrounding bone, and the proximity of the roots to the inferior alveolar nerve.
It is below the standard of care for a dentist to extract a lower molar or perform root canal therapy on a mandibular tooth unless these proper x-rays show all of the above anatomical landmarks and the interrelation of these landmarks with the nerve. Many times, however, the dentist will proceed with the proposed treatment even though she does not have a proper understanding of just how much risk of injury the inferior alveolar nerve is subject to.
While any dentist, regardless of specialty (including a general dentist) can perform a root canal therapy or complicated extraction, many of these procedures are referred out by general dentists to oral surgeons or endodontists because of the high risk of nerve injury if the procedure is performed below the standard of care and the underlying nerve is compromised. It is important to note that all dentists are held to the same standard of care while performing these procedures. So, it is no defense to a dental malpractice cause of action to claim, for instance, that a general dentist does not have to perform an extraction to the same level of expertise as an oral surgeon. Similarly, it is not defense to a dental malpractice cause of action related to nerve damage caused by root canal therapy to claim that a general dentist does not have to perform the root canal therapy to the same level of expertise as an endodontist. There is a great deal of overlap in the types of procedures that many dentists perform. The one constant though is that all procedures must be performed to the standard of care for the procedure, which in Georgia is a national standard.
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 injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.