The Wrong Diagnosis in Dentistry

Does wrong diagnosis = Bad Dentist?

A wrong diagnosis in dentistry is rarely as catastrophic as it can be in general medicine. But if a dentist gets the diagnosis wrong when you have a toothache, it can result in getting the wrong tooth pulled, or the wrong tooth getting a root canal. Both of these situations cannot be fixed, or "reversed". And you still have the toothache.

Sometimes this can be an innocent mistake - at times it can be very difficult to decide exactly which tooth is causing pain. But at other times it can be down to negligence. Maybe the dentist simply didn't take enough time to make an accurate diagnosis. Maybe he didn't even take an X-ray. This could amount to malpractice.

The main exception is mouth cancer. It is always very important that any cancer is diagnosed as quickly as possible, but this is even more true for mouth cancer.

If you notice any kind of ulcer or sore spot in your mouth that does not heal within 10 days maximum, get your dentist to take a look. It might be caused by a sharp tooth cusp or an edge on a denture. Your dentist can make an adjustment and review it a few days later.

If it still hasn't healed up, then he should refer you for some tests. He's not a bad dentist just because he didn't refer you immediately. But he should refer you quickly the second time around. Read more at mouth cancer symptoms.

Wrong Diagnosis

But imagine you have been attending the same dentist for 10 years or more, and always had regular check-ups. Then one of two things happens.

Either you notice one day that you have a loose tooth, or else you get a check-up with a different dentist, only to be told that you have gum disease, and will need several teeth removing!

Confused dentist

"Wait a minute" you're thinking. "When did this happen?" Well, gum disease does not happen overnight. It happens over several years. Every time you have a check-up, your dentist should be checking your gum condition.

If he spots a problem developing, then he should tell you about it, and what can be done. He shouldn't wait until your teeth get loose. That's a failure to diagnose. A wrong diagnosis!

There can also be problems with dental implants. The dentist should take careful note of your medical conditions. Things that might affect implant treatment are;

  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • bisphosphonate therapy for osteoporosis.

He should make an accurate diagnosis of your medical conditions before starting any treatment.

If implants are planned near the sinus of the upper jaw or to replace back teeth in the lower jaw, your dentist should arrange for a CT scan in addition to the normal X-rays.

It is essential that a correct diagnosis of the available jawbone is made before treatment planning goes ahead. Lack of a CT scan before treatment planning can result in a wrong diagnosis, and may constitute dental malpractice.

To sum up, a wrong diagnosis can have 2 main consequences;

1. Something that might need attention is being overlooked,

2. You are likely to receive inappropriate treatment based on that bad diagnosis.

If you can show that you suffered some harm or loss as a result of that diagnosis, you may have a malpractice claim. You should find a dental malpractice attorney to find out.