Over treatment by dentists is a common occurrence that I see as a dental malpractice lawyer in Georgia. In a recent collective action, a group of 29 former dental patients was awarded over $29M in damages against a defendant dentist who allegedly had repeatedly performed unnecessary root canals.
While the above case is certainly exceptional, most cases of dental malpractice that we see involve root canals, dental implants, or complicated extractions. These procedures sometimes are performed negligently and can lead to serious and permanent nerve injuries that affect the mouth and face. These types of cases are much different from the cases in which dentists take advantage of their patients and perform unnecessary dental procedures. This type of practice is also sometimes called fraudulent dentistry.
As professionals, dentist (much like other professionals such as doctors and lawyers) are provided great deference by the public and by their patients. The decision as to whether you need a dental treatment is often in a gray area. One dentist will say one thing, while another one will say another. This is normal, and it’s to be expected. But it means that the usual signs of insurance fraud – a practitioner prescribing more procedures than his or her colleagues – are more difficult to detect, because there’s more variation, and it’s more difficult to really pin down a procedure as unnecessary. This being said, I have seen many new clients who have been subjected to unnecessary dental work. Worse yet, they unnecessary work often leads to injury which could lead to a malpractice claim against the dentist if the injury is severe enough.
Over the years, I have head clients complain about the following procedures being done that the client, in hindsight insisted was not necessary: wisdom tooth extractions, fillings, crowns, deep scaling and root canals. To be sure, the client is not always correct, but these are the main areas that I run across that client complain about the most. In particular, I have encountered quite a few situations in which the client was persuaded to have all four wisdom teeth removed (even though they were not causing any problems or in dental terms were asymptomatic) and then, the extraction causes a nerve injury. This is especially true in older clients (generally in their 40’s and older) who have wisdom tooth extractions. This is because, as we age, the wisdom teeth become ankylosed in the jaw. In other words, the teeth become anchored in the jaw in such a fashion that it becomes extremely difficult to remove them without exposing the lingual nerve or inferior alveolar nerve to injury. Since, the whole process was started off by the dentist proposing treatment that was not necessary (because they teeth were asymptomatic and not causing the patient any problems), the injury quite possibly could be caused by dental malpractice.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, 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.