Third Molar Extraction Allegedly Caused Jaw Fracture – Defense Verdict

The plaintiff, in his early 60s, underwent extraction of the third molar on the lower right side. The plaintiff returned to the defendant dentist ten days later reporting pain and having a “pop” in his jaw. The defendant examined the jaw and diagnosed myofasciitis. The patient then went to an oral surgeon for a second opinion, who diagnosed a fracture of the right side of the lower jaw.

The plaintiff required use of wires and immobilization for four weeks. The plaintiff was then diagnosed with osteomyelitis of the jaw and the jaw was rewired for eleven additional weeks. The plaintiff had about six months of follow-up care.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that he suffered permanent residual numbness and that the fracture was due to negligence in the extraction. The plaintiff claimed that the extraction was unnecessary, that an excessive amount of bone was removed, and that there was a lack of informed consent.

The defendant claimed that x-rays did not reveal the fracture and that the osteomyelitis was due to roots that were remnants of the extraction. The defendant also claimed that the extraction was necessary because the molar was causing pericoronitis, which was endangering the tooth and surrounding bone. The defendant also claimed that the plaintiff had given full informed consent, and produced documentation supporting that assertion.

After a two-week trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant in 15 minutes.

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