Dental procedures can be painful, but you shouldn’t have pain that lingers long after your procedure is finished. If you have pain that won’t go away or you have a change in feeling, sensation, taste, or function after dental work, you may have suffered nerve damage. This can sometimes be the basis of a valid dental malpractice lawsuit.
How a Dentist’s Negligence Can Cause Nerve Damage
Nerve damage isn’t always a sign that a dentist did something wrong. Sometimes, dental work will have side effects that last for a few weeks or even months. But if an issue lasts longer than that, something’s not right.
There are several common procedures that are prone to the possibility of damaged nerves. Most of the time, it happens during a tooth extraction process (wisdom teeth or others), a root canal, or a dental implant. But it can also happen if a dentist fails to do something.
How can a dentist damage nerves? The majority of the time, it’s because they drill too deeply, but it can also happen if they ignore a symptom and don’t recommend further treatment or miss a sign that something is wrong during an examination.
Symptoms of Tooth Nerve Damage
Signs of potential nerve damage from a dentist include:
- No feeling in the treated area of your mouth even after anesthesia has worn off
- A tingling or “pulling” sensation in the treated area
- Stabbing or burning pain
- A lack of taste of things tasting different
- Trouble speaking normally
- Difficulty eating normally
Should any of these symptoms more than a month after your visit, you may have suffered nerve damage and you may have a case against your dentist.
In terms of a medical malpractice suit, what matters most is the severity of your symptoms, the long-term prognosis for improvement, and how much these symptoms affect your daily life. Someone with permanent injuries (or at least injuries that won’t improve without treatment) is much more likely to have a valid malpractice claim than someone with pain that will go away with time.
Suing Your Dentist for Causing Nerve Damage
If your dentist did cause nerve damage, there may be the possibility you could sue them for damages. When it comes to actually determining whether or not malpractice has occurred and if you can sue, the burden of proof lies with you as the injured patient. You must be able to prove that your pain and suffering is the direct cause of the dentist’s actions and that the dentist acted outside of an accepted medical standard or that they acted in a way other dentists would not.
It’s also important to be aware of the statute of limitations to file your case. In Florida, you’re required to begin your lawsuit within two years of discovering the injury or within four years of when the malpractice occurred at the latest.
The process would generally look like this:
- Establishing a patient-practitioner relationship. You can do this easily with e-mail confirmations of your appointments or receipts. This seems mundane, but it’s actually fairly important as it gives the dentist an implied duty of care, or a legal obligation to help you.
- Establishing a breach of duty. This means you must show the dentist didn’t follow proper protocol. This will probably involve finding an expert with knowledge of the situation who can testify as to what the dentist should or should not have done.
- Establishing an injury. In medical malpractice, an injury must be proven to determine potential compensation. To win your dental malpractice claim, you’ll need to show that you have a nerve injury.
- Establishing the link between your injury and the dentist. It must be proven that the dentist actually caused your injury with their actions. This too will be done by an expert in the area.
- Filing your suit. It’s best to let a legal professional officially submit your suit. An experienced attorney will know what procedures must be followed and can advocate on your behalf throughout the process.
Contact a Florida Dental Malpractice Attorney
If you’ve been hurt by a dentist’s negligence, it’s important to be aware of your rights. You may be eligible for compensation not just to fix the problem, but for the physical pain you went through, mental strain, and wages from time missed at work. You’ll need an experienced attorney on your side in this fight–one who has dealt with dental malpractice before, who knows the law in Florida, and can help you build a strong case.
Attorney Charles Buist is the son of a dentist and worked as a dental assistant before deciding to enter law school. Early in life, he saw many cases where people would come to his father to correct the negligent actions of another dentist. He was passionate about dental care before becoming a legal professional and will use his knowledge of the industry to fight for your right to fair compensation for the harm you have suffered.
Contact the Spetsas Buist team at (321) 352-7588 today to schedule your free consultation or use our convenient online contact form.