As an Atlanta lawyer who specializes in the handling of dental malpractice cases, I have noticed a rise in the number of dental malpractice claims caused by negligent dental treatment during certain dental procedures. Many of the injuries that we have been seeing are catastrophic and permanent. The cases on the rise that I have seen involve dental nerve injuries sustained after the patient has undergone dental implant placement, root canal therapy and extraction of wisdom teeth and other molars.
Dental malpractice in this area often leads to serious injury due to the proximity of the nerves in the jaw and face to the tooth and mouth structures that are being worked on. For instance, dental implants can cause injury to the nerves in the mouth due to placement of the implant in the wrong position. This often leads to the implant crushing the nerve and the patient is often left with insurmountable pain and numbness. Similarly, if a root canal is not performed according to the applicable standard of care, this too, can lead to a serious dental nerve injury that, in many cases, is permanent and debilitating.
As a dentist licensed in the State of Georgia, a dentist and the acts performed in the dental practice are governed by and subject to the Georgia Dental Practice Act, O.C.G.A. §§ 43-11-1, et seq. (the “Dental Act”) Under the Dental Act, “dentistry” means the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment, or any combination thereof, whether using surgical or nonsurgical procedures, of diseases, disorders, or conditions, or any combination thereof, of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area, or the adjacent and associated structures, or any combination thereof, and their impact on the human body provided by a dentist, within the scope of his or her education, training, and experience, in accordance with the ethics of the profession and applicable law, including, but not limited to, the acts specified in Code Section 43-11-17. When a dentist performs any of the procedures mentioned in the Dental Act, the procedures must be performed within the standard of care or liability attaches to the malpractice.