The oral surgeon promised to give a patient a set of perfect teeth. All he needed to do was get 10 dental implants on his upper jaw, and 10 dental implants on his lower jaw. The patient, who never had implants before, agreed. He wanted a beautiful set of teeth. It had been many years since he had good healthy natural teeth, and when he arrived in the oral surgeon’s office for that first consultation, he had only seven decaying teeth remaining in his mouth.
WHAT IS A DENTAL IMPLANT?
It is usually a titanium screw that gets screwed into the jaw. It creates the foundation upon which a permanent bridge or crown will sit. Once the implant is screwed into the jaw, it takes months to heal. After the healing period, a healing collar is placed around the implant, and then a post is placed on top of the implant. Once a post is put on, a fixed bridge or cap (also known as a crown) can be attached to the post.
THE COST TO PLACE IMPLANTS
My client had been to a few different implant dentists and was told that for six implants it would cost anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000. Since this man did not have the money to pay for these implants, he held off, and continued to use his ill-fitting denture that would fall out at the most inopportune times.
One day, while at work, my client saw an ad by this oral surgeon promising inexpensive dental implants and great results. The ad was intoxicating and held the promise of a great set of teeth for only a fraction of the cost that most other dentists were charging.
“IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE...IT IS”
This patient was quoted a price of $22,500 to put in 10 implants on his upper jaw, and 10 implants on his lower jaw. Twenty implants total. All for the low, low price of $22,500. That price also included the restoration for full porcelain fixed bridges on both upper and lower jaws. What a bargain.
What the patient got instead was botched dental treatment. To begin with, the oral surgeon failed to properly evaluate whether this patient had sufficient bone for all these implants. He failed to identify where the nerves were in relation to where he was going to insert the implants. Unfortunately for the patient, the implants were put in too close together; they were improperly angled; there were too many implants; he put an implant into the patient’s sinus and never realized it; he created a hole in the sinus and despite trying to fix it twice, failed.
THE RECORDS DON’T LIE
The doctor’s dental records were worse than scribbles. They had no useful information. The notes reflecting the doctor’s comments after the dental implant surgery simply said “Observe.” That’s it. No notes about patient complaints, what type of examination he performed on that visit or any other visit for that matter. No notes about what his treatment plan was. Incredibly, while the patient was having the implants inserted the doctor claimed that he would take one to two intra-operative x-rays to determine if the implants were in the correct place. Once he decided they were in the right place, he would then inexplicably throw away the x-rays he had taken. The doctor attempted to explain that he had no use for the intra-operative x-rays once the implants were embedded into the jaw.
The fact that the x-rays were technically the patient’s property had no impact on this oral surgeon.
A DENTIST ABANDONS HIS PATIENTS
Months after the patient had his implants placed into his jaw, he received a letter from this dentist announcing that he could no longer continue to provide dental services, giving various excuses. Incredibly, the dentist failed to refer this patient, or any other patient, to another oral surgeon to continue their dental implant care. As a result, my client remained without any teeth in his mouth for two full years.
Calls and letters to this oral surgeon requesting a refund of cash that had been paid went unanswered. All efforts to recoup money for the improper work and unfinished work were ignored.
NEXT STOP: To an experienced New York dental malpractice lawyer.
After two years of hard-fought litigation, I was able to successfully settle this case on the day we were scheduled to begin jury selection. I was prepared to bring in a dental implant expert to explain to the jury how this dentist’s planning, execution and post-operative care deviated from good and accepted dental standards here in the State of New York. As a result of those departures from good care, my client suffered significant injury, requiring extensive sinus surgery to correct the hole, and the implant lodged in the sinus. He will require most of the implants to be removed, and will have to start over again. All at an astronomical price, and the possibility that removing the implants will cause damage and injury to the jaw and nerves running through the upper and lower jaw.
The successful settlement will now allow my client the chance to surgically correct the botched dental treatment he received from this oral surgeon. Hopefully in the near future, after all of his dental treatment has been completed, he’ll be able to look in the mirror, and for the first time in many years, smile and say “Good morning,” without feeling self-conscious and worried what someone will think of a man without teeth.