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Dental malpractice can be deadly

New Jersey residents, like other news followers, have likely heard the horror stories of doctors removing the wrong organ, amputating the wrong limb, or leaving surgical tools inside of patients. You may not realize that dentists make errors, too, and some of them can be deadly, especially those that involve infections after tooth extractions, oral surgery and other procedures.

Dental malpractice is a growing concern. Dentaltown advises dentists to expect to be confronted with such claims at some point in their careers and lists the most known types of dental malpractice as:

  • Lack of informed consent from the patient
  • Dentist fails to refer the patient to a specialist
  • Failing to correctly treat complications resulting from dental work, such as infection
  • Failure to correctly carry out prosthodontic work such as crowns and bridgework
  • Failing to diagnose conditions, including gum disease, cancer and infections

Prevention offers consumers several warning signs to note when looking for a dentist, the first being failure to request dental records from new patients. Part of a dentist’s job should be tracking changes and comparing records and X-rays with previous ones, as this can help them spot problems that may be developing. They should also ask whether you have had X-rays within the last six months, to prevent unneeded exposure to radiation. The American Dental Association suggests that healthy people have full X-rays taken every two years.

Question a dentist who suggests removing amalgam flings due to their “toxicity.” Older cavities may be filled with a silver alloy that also includes liquid mercury, which releases vapors when it is being drilled out. The fumes can cause more harm than leaving the fillings alone, plus removal with a high-speed drill can cause the tooth to crack. Unless the fillings are corroded and are actually shrinking back from the tooth surface, removal is not worth the risk.

Second opinions are not just for medical doctors. If you have previously had regular, healthy check-ups and a new dentist spots several cavities, be skeptical and seek another opinion. Be sure your dentist is not recommending procedures because your insurance covers them but because you need them.

The information in this article is of a general nature. It should not be construed as legal advice.

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