Failure to Recognize Periodontal Disease – $200,000 Settlement

The plaintiff had been a patient of the defendant dentist for over twenty years, visiting the dentist twice per year for cleanings in addition to necessary restorative dentistry. When the defendant informed the plaintiff that he would need root canal therapy, the plaintiff decided to visit another dentist to get a second opinion. The second dentist who examined the plaintiff informed him that he was actually suffering from severe periodontal disease that had affected all of his upper teeth. The second dentist referred the plaintiff to a periodontist, who extracted all but two of the plaintiff’s upper teeth and replaced them with implants and permanent bridges.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant dentist, alleging that the defendant failed to take and evaluate adequate numbers of x-rays or regularly spaced x-rays to monitor his dental health. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant had failed to recognize, diagnose, treat, inform, or refer to treat progressing, insidious periodontal disease destroying both gum and bone supporting teeth. The plaintiff further alleged substandard cleanings which failed to remove bacteria-causing plaque and calculus. The plaintiff alleged the defendant dentist was also negligent in performing fillings without removing existing bacteria, progressively eroding the supporting structures of the teeth being restored.

The defendant contended that he had offered the plaintiff many treatment options to mitigate his dental problems, but the plaintiff had consistently either refused treatment or consented to only a portion of the dental care proposed due to financial concerns. The defendant also asserted that he had performed a significant amount of restorative work and general dental care during his time treating the plaintiff, including oral exams and x-rays.

A $200,000 mediation result was initially rejected by the defendant, but was then ultimately accepted a couple of weeks prior to trial.

With permission from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts; Lewis Laska, Editor, 901 Church St., Nashville, TN 37203-3411, 1-800-298-6288.