Malpractice At The Dentist

As you think about noisy drills and sharp tools, a little anxiety is only natural as you sit in the waiting room of your dentist’s office. But you know that your dentist (or orthodontist or surgeon) is a trained professional. They will do their best to keep you safe and comfortable during your visit. This is what everyone likes to think when they visit the dentist. However, this is not always the case.

What Is Dental Malpractice?

Very few statistics on dental malpractice exist. However, dental issues fall under the much larger umbrella of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. In the dental field, dental malpractice may include:

  • Improper extraction of teeth, including extraction of the wrong tooth
  • Failure to diagnose or treat
  • Infections
  • Negligent use of anesthesia

Types of Dental Malpractice

Anesthesia errors are the most common cause of death. Anesthesia is combination of drugs that renders a patient unconscious. It is usually used during orthopedic surgeries, including wisdom teeth. If a patient is given too much anesthesia, is improperly monitored, or has a negative reaction to the drugs, it can have fatal consequences.  In 2015, for example, a six-year-old boy in California died while undergoing surgery for a common dental issue. In this case, the anesthesia included powerful drugs like Fentanyl and Propfol, which caused the boy’s organs to shut down. While anesthesia-related injuries occur occur across a variety of medical practices, dentists are generally not trained anesthesiologists. This increases the chances of a medical error.

Infections are the second leading cause of dental malpractice. They might not have an immediate impact, but can lead to hospitalization or death if ignored. Infections occur when a tooth is improperly removed or if improper or unsterilized equipment is used. Infections like tooth abscesses are painful, distracting, and can even lead to death if the infection spreads.

Other Causes

Freak accidents can lead to dental malpractice claims, too. For example, a few years ago, a man choked to death on a piece of gauze that fell into his throat during a dental procedure. Blood, teeth, or bits of bone fragment can also pose choking hazards during a dental operation, especially when the patient is under anesthesia.

The idea of dental malpractice is scary. But it’s important to remember that most dentists and oral specialists are well-trained. They will do their best to keep you safe and healthy —and they’ll keep your smile bright, too!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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