As the year winds to a close, I have looked back at the new dental malpractice cases during the past year. Once again, the two most common forms of dental negligence which lead to facial nerve injuries are the placement of dental implants and root canal therapy. Most times, the negligently placed implant and the negligent root canal therapy are performed on the lower jaw (i.e., the mandible) and involve injury to the mandibular nerve, which is also known as the inferior alveolar nerve and its extension, the mental nerve.
In most of these cases of dental malpractice, the implant or the pilot hole for the implant invades the inferior alveolar nerve canal and crushes the nerve. Similarly, the dentist who commits malpractice while performing root canals commonly over-instruments the root of a mandibular molar and/or over-fills the root with root canal material. This material, in turn, fills into the inferior alveolar nerve canal and causes nerve damage. Unless the nerve damage is identified and reversed in a very short period of time, this type of facial nerve damage is almost always permanent. Studies in the dental literature make it clear that the sooner a dental nerve injury is addressed, the more likely that it will not be permanent. In other words, the longer the dentist waits to either treat the nerve injury himself, or to refer the patient out to a nerve repair specialist, the less likely it is that the nerve will be able to be repaired. This is especially troubling because many dentists are reluctant to (1) acknowledge the nerve injury in their records for fear that this will be used against them in the malpractice suit, and (2) unwilling to refer the injured patient to a micro-neurosurgeon for nerve repair for the same reason. Ironically, when the patient does consult with an experienced dental malpractice lawyer this reluctance on the part of the defendant dentist to either treat the nerve injury or refer the patient out to an expert, not only does not help the defendant dentist, it is actually another count of malpractice against the dentist (i.e., failure to refer).
As an Atlanta Dental Malpractice Lawyer, I have seen too many of these dental mistakes and many times the initial malpractice is compounded by the negligent dentist’s unwillingness to: (1) take responsibility for the negligence; and (2) refer the injured patient to a competent micro-neurosurgeon or oral surgeon for proper nerve evaluation and remedial surgery, if necessary.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits 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 in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, 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 quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.