For most healthy individuals, it is recommended they visit the dentist twice a year for check-ups, cleanings, and exams. Because of this, it is common that patients will see their dentists more than they see their primary care doctors.
As with any other healthcare profession, dentists must uphold specific ethical standards and moral codes. They must provide safe, effective care to their patients. You deserve the assurance that every time you sit in the dental chair that you are receiving the care you need from a committed professional.
WHAT ARE GROUNDS FOR A DENTAL MALPRACTICE SUIT?
In general, dental malpractice suits refer to injuries caused by a dental professional’s negligence. This includes failure to detect oral cancer or periodontal disease; permanent injuries to the jaw, chin, lips, or tongue; unnecessary extraction of multiple teeth; or even wrongful death.
PREVENTION IS THE KEY TO AVOIDING MALPRACTICE CLAIMS
Like maintaining good oral health, preventative care is the key to avoiding dental malpractice suits. This idea applies to both patients and providers. By taking steps to improve your dental services — or recognize when you need a new provider — it can lessen the need for legal action.
CHOOSE A PROVIDER YOU’RE COMFORTABLE WITH
Feeling comfortable at your dentist’s office can make all the difference in your quality of care. When you feel safe and secure, it encourages a better dialogue with your provider. If you are looking for a new dentist or need a dental specialist, do your homework! Take the time to research providers in your area to see who has a good reputation and the credentials to provide the care you need.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET A SECOND OPINION
The American Dental Associations recognizes ten separate dental specialties and their certifying boards. While your general dentist is no doubt skilled, it is also possible that there are procedures that are out of their scope of practice. Receiving a second opinion on a proposed treatment can help you — and your provider — gain the peace of mind that you are receiving the care you deserve.
BUILDING LAST RELATIONSHIPS IMPROVES THE QUALITY OF CARE
Because dentists see their patients more frequently, it provides them with the opportunity to build deeper relationships. Many malpractice cases are a result of miscommunication between the patient and provider. By taking steps to get to know your patients, it can improve your in-office atmosphere and the quality of care.
When patients feel genuinely cared for, it encourages them to speak honestly about their needs and goals for their smile. In turn, providers are able to manage expectations and make recommendations for treatments that help them reach the milestones they’re aiming for.
REFERRALS ARE INVESTMENT IN YOUR PRACTICE
It’s okay if a procedure or situation is out of your realm of expertise. Offering a referral to a dental specialist is an investment in your quality of care. It helps you maintain honesty with your patients and provide them with the solutions they deserve.