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Dental Malpractice in Florida: Know Your Rights After a Dental Injury

a dentist talking with a patient

Millions of Floridians visit the dentist every year for routine checkups, cleanings, and other procedures. While dental care is essential for maintaining good oral health, it’s important to remember that no medical procedure is entirely risk-free. Even though dental procedures are some of the most common medical interventions, they are not immune to malpractice.

If your dentist fails to uphold the appropriate standard of care, and you suffer harm as a result, you have legal rights. If you suspect your dentist may have fallen short of the expected standard of care or you are experiencing an unexpected dental injury or complication following the procedure, seek guidance from a qualified professional. Medical malpractice lawyers at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP can help evaluate your case. 

What Counts as Dental Malpractice in Florida

Not every unexpected outcome following a dental procedure signifies malpractice. However, if you experienced harm due to your dentist’s carelessness, you might have a case. 

In Florida, dental malpractice occurs when a dentist fails to provide the level of care a reasonably competent dentist would in a similar situation. This “standard of care” is determined by considering factors like your medical history, the nature of the procedure, and accepted dental practices.

To establish negligence, you’ll typically need to show four elements:

  • Duty of Care: The dentist owed you a duty to provide competent and skillful care.
  • Breach of Duty: The dentist breached this duty by failing to meet the expected standard of care.
  • Causation: The dentist’s breach of duty caused your injury.
  • Damages: You suffered harm as a result of the dentist’s negligence.

If you believe these elements are present in your situation, consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer is highly recommended.

Common Injuries Caused by Dental Malpractice

Dental malpractice can take many forms. Some common examples include failing to properly sterilize equipment, which can put patients at risk of serious infections. Surgical errors during procedures like tooth extractions or implant placement can lead to nerve damage, jaw problems, or excessive bleeding. Additionally, dentists who recommend unnecessary procedures, such as extractions when a filling could suffice, may be acting outside the standard of care and prioritizing profit over your oral health.

Dental malpractice can cause a range of serious injuries, impacting not just oral health but also the overall well-being of the patient. Here are some of the potential consequences if a dentist breaches their duty of care:

  • Nerve Damage: Improper procedures or injections can damage nerves in the jaw or face, leading to persistent pain, numbness, or tingling.
  • Tooth Damage: Unnecessary procedures, excessive drilling, or faulty crowns can weaken or fracture teeth, requiring further treatment.
  • Anesthesia Injury: Errors during anesthesia administration can cause allergic reactions, breathing difficulties, or even permanent nerve damage.

Beyond these common injuries, dental malpractice can also lead to:

  • HIV/AIDS and Other Infections: Improper sterilization of equipment or failure to follow infection control protocols can transmit serious diseases.
  • Misdiagnosis or Missed Diagnosis: Failing to identify oral cancer, gum disease, or other conditions can delay treatment and worsen the prognosis.
  • Chronic Pain After a Procedure: Surgical errors, improper fillings, or poorly fitting dentures can cause persistent pain in the mouth or jaw.
  • Disfigurement of Mouth or Face: Negligent surgeries or infections can lead to permanent scarring or other cosmetic issues.
  • Jaw Joint Problems: TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction can be caused by improper bite adjustments or poorly made dentures, leading to pain and limited jaw movement.
  • Metallosis: This occurs when tiny particles from a metal implant wear down and leak into surrounding tissues, causing pain, inflammation, and potential bone loss around the implant.
  • Nerve Damage to the Tongue: Injections or surgical procedures can accidentally damage nerves in the tongue, leading to persistent numbness, tingling, or burning sensations that impair taste and speech.
  • Sinus Problems: Dental procedures can accidentally damage the sinuses, leading to facial pain, congestion, and sinus infections. 
  • Alveolar Osteitis (Dry Socket): This painful condition occurs when a blood clot fails to form properly following a tooth extraction.
  • Improper Implant Placement: Dental implants that are placed incorrectly can damage nerves, cause bone loss, or even lead to infections. 
  • Allergic Reactions: Failure to consider a patient’s allergies to medications or materials used in dental procedures can result in serious allergic reactions.

Dental Malpractice Compensation in Florida: What You Can Recover

If you’ve been injured due to your dentist’s negligence, Florida law allows you to seek compensation for various damages. This can include medical expenses incurred to treat the injuries caused by the malpractice, such as additional dental procedures, surgeries, or pain medication. 

Lost wages due to missed work while recovering from your injuries are also recoverable. In some cases, dental malpractice can lead to chronic pain or permanent disfigurement, impacting your quality of life. You may be able to seek compensation for this pain and suffering as well. 

The emotional toll of dental malpractice shouldn’t be ignored. Anxiety, depression, or fear of future dental procedures can be a significant consequence. Compensation can also cover the costs of mental health treatment needed to address these emotional effects.

Under Florida law, the statute of limitations for most medical malpractice claims is two years. For most patients, the statute of limitations means that a lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the initial harm.

Remember, every case is unique, and the specific damages you can recover will depend on the severity of your injuries and the impact on your life. Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you understand the full range of compensation you might be entitled to. 

Did a Dental Procedure Leave You in Pain? You Might Have a Case

If you suspect your dentist’s negligence caused an injury, don’t suffer in silence. The Miami medical malpractice attorneys at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP can help. We offer free consultations to discuss your case and determine if you have grounds for legal action. Contact us today at 305-371-2692 and get the care you deserve.