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What is Dental Malpractice?

Dental malpractice is a type of medical malpractice in which a dental provider fails to live up to the legal duty to provide an acceptable standard of care. To commit malpractice, your dentist or other dental provider must have done something that other reasonable people in the profession would not have done. Dental malpractice may be committed by a general dentist, oral surgeon, orthodontist, periodontist, prosthodontist, endodontist, dental hygienist, or dental staff.

Dental malpractice does not require a botched procedure. It may also occur due to failures to diagnose health problems or get your permission. Additionally, dishonest dentists may attempt to take advantage of you or your insurance provider.

Dental malpractice is becoming increasingly common. According to the American Board of legal Medicine, approximately 13.1 percent of medical malpractice reports are filed against dentists.


When you go to the dentist or another dental professional, you expect and deserve a level of thoroughness and professionalism. While procedures and examinations may differ depending upon the type of professional and purpose of visit, you expect quality medical care to protect your health.

Your dentist should suggest routine cleanings and checkups every six months. During any appointment with a dentist, your dentist should make sure he knows your pertinent medical and family history. The dentist should make sure they know about your medications and allergies.

Once the examination or procedure begins, the dentist or dental professional should look for cavities, gum health, sores, inflammation, tissue redness, painful areas, whitish appearing tissue, lesions, or canker sores. The dentist should give you an opportunity to ask questions and voice and symptoms or concerns. The doctor should undergo the proper examination and tests to render proper treatment and identify any potential issues. Any pertinent diagnosis or concern should be noted and communicated. Any treatment or procedure should be done in a skilled and competent manner.

A follow-up plan should be created to treat or further test any identified issues or abnormalities. You may be given a new toothpaste or product to care for your mouth. In some instances, you may need to return to have a cavity filled or undergo a test to investigate abnormal growths in your mouth. You may be referred to a specialist. If you have undergone a surgical procedure, your dentist should follow up to ensure your continued wellbeing.


Dentists should always do a thorough and professional job in order to make sure you get the health you need and deserve. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Some reasons why this may not happen includes the following:

  • Failing to conduct a proper medical history or account for medical history
  • Failure to conduct a proper examination
  • Failing to notice a problem that should have been found
  • Failure to seriously consider to the patient’s complaints
  • Failure to order tests
  • Failure to properly interpret x-rays or tests
  • Misdiagnosing a condition as something less serious
  • Failure to refer to a specialist
  • Failing to update the patient on treatment procedures and related risks
  • Careless treatment or procedures
  • Improper installation or monitoring of dental equipment such as braces or fillings.
  • Improper technique
  • Improper removal of wisdom teeth
  • Paperwork mix-ups
  • Improper use of dental or surgical utensils
  • Improper Maintenance of dental or surgical utensils
  • Medication Error


You may not think much about your mouth between dentist visits, but improperly provided medical care can result in serious injury, expensive medical bills, or death. Some potential injuries include the following:

  • Failure to diagnose oral cancer. This can lead to the surgical removal of portions of the neck, jaw, and tongue. In some instances, it may lead to death
  • Failure to Diagnose Periodontics (gum disease).
  • Anesthesia injuries including paralysis and death.
  • Infections
  • Nerve injuries. Nerve damage, such as severing the Lingual nerve or inferior alveolar nerve, can result if life-altering complications
  • Wrongful death
  • Slurred speech
  • Uncontrollable drooling
  • Inability to open jaw
  • Chronic pain
  • Reabsorbed roots due to failure to monitor braces
  • Loss of teeth
  • Improper extraction of teeth
  • Improper administration of Botox and Restylene
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) can be caused by improper orthodontic work
  • Structural damage to the jaw, tongue, chin, or lips
  • Fractured jaw
  • Osteoradionecrosis (radiation injury to the bone)
  • Root canal injuries
  • Use of defective dental devices. This may include fillings, crowns, or orthodontic devices.
  • Injury to surrounding bone structure and tissue
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Medication interactions or allergies


While most dental malpractice is the result of human error or carelessness, dental malpractice sometimes occurs due to an intentional choice to violate the patient’s wishes or seek personal gain.

All medical providers, including doctors, have a duty to obtain the patient’s informed consent. This requires the dentist to provide all pertinent information, including risks and alternate treatments, before beginning treatment unless certain narrow exceptions apply. If the doctor does not get informed consent or violates this consent, medical malpractice may have occurred.

Additionally, some dentist may perform unnecessary tests or procedures out of an attempt to get more money. Although this is rare, this intentional conduct is dental malpractice.


Dental malpractice is a complicated field involving the intersection of legal, medical, and scientific principles. A bad result is not enough to show medical malpractice. You must also show that the dental professional failed to live up to the “standard of care.” You need a skilled attorney with a plan to uncover the truth and tenaciously pursue compensation for you.

In order to face these challenges, we will develop a plan to get you the best outcome. This typically includes obtaining your dental and medical records quickly and having those records reviewed by dental and medical experts. If you believe that you have been the victim of dental malpractice and our investigation supports it, out firm can help you get the compensation you need and deserve. A dental malpractice case can help you get a measure of justice and the compensation you need to offset your medical bills, lost wages, future expenses, and other losses.


If you believe that a dentist, dental staff member, orthodontist, or other dental professional failed to diagnose an advanced mouth disease or committed another form of dental malpractice, contact Gupta Law Group – we help people and families throughout Illinois and Indiana. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with an experienced lawyer.  Cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means that you owe us nothing unless your claim is successful and results in compensation.