Lack of Before and After Films Blamed for Tooth Decay and Removal — $350,400 Verdict

The plaintiff, a woman in her late forties, presented to the defendant dentist for a second opinion regarding the need for a bridge. The defendant not only agreed that the plaintiff needed a bridge but suggested that one of the plaintiff’s teeth needed to be replaced. Three days later, the plaintiff returned to the defendant to have the tooth removed, and have her mouth prepared for the bridge.

The following month, the defendant took impressions for the bridge and attempted to place a crown. The crown did not fit, so the plaintiff had to return to the office about three weeks later for a replacement. The defendant attached the bridge to the plaintiff’s teeth and cemented the newly replaced crown.

The plaintiff went for a routine cleaning a few months later, and the defendant dentist found decay under the bridge. The next month, the plaintiff returned to the defendant for a follow up appointment, and he confirmed the decay under the bridge. The plaintiff had to have the decaying teeth extracted, and the crown work redone.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant dentist alleging the decay caused the failure of the crown and the failure of the bridge. The plaintiff claimed the defendant failed to take before and after x-rays of the work to ensure proper fit, and that there was no decay present. The plaintiff maintained the defendant admitted that he failed to remove the decay before cementing the bridge permanently. The plaintiff argued that one tooth holding the bridge was a crown and should have been secured better before being used as an anchor for the bridge.

The defendant asserted that there is no requirement for before and after films, and the crowned tooth was fine to hold the bridge. The defendant claimed that the decay was the result of a fracture in the tooth holding the bridge, and the plaintiff would have lost both teeth anyway, regardless of his actions.

The jury returned a $350,400 verdict at the conclusion of this case.

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