Medical Malpractice For A Defective Dental Implant: What Evidence Would You Need?

14 March 2016
 Categories: , Articles


Thousands of Americans successfully undergo dental surgery to install implants every year, and these implants offer practical and esthetic benefits to people with missing teeth. Unfortunately, some people with implants undergo considerable pain and suffering because a dentist failed to install the implant properly. If you believe your dental implant failed because your dentist did something wrong, learn more about the four main types of evidence you will need to have to successfully file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The dentist-patient relationship

To successfully file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you need to prove that there was a formal dentist-patient relationship in place when you underwent the treatment. This is probably one of the easier elements of the case to prove because the relationship exists as soon as a dentist agrees to diagnose or treat you. Very few courts will challenge this part of the case, but it may help if you can keep copies of a diagnosis and treatment plan that the dentist gives you.

This part of the lawsuit may become more difficult if the dentist claims the relationship ended before the date when you allege malpractice took place, so medical reports and dated invoices are still important types of evidence.

The dentist's negligence or sub-standard care

All doctors and dentists must act with the level of skill and care that any other health professional would demonstrate in the situation. There are plenty of sources of information that your attorney can use to prove that the dentist was negligent.

These sources of evidence include:

  • Clinical practice guidelines from groups like the American Dental Association.

  • Expert witness testimony about what the dentist should/not have done in the circumstances.

  • Other medical malpractice lawsuits.

It isn't always easy to prove that the dentist was negligent, as every case is different. However, under United States law, the plaintiff (you) need only demonstrate the facts by a preponderance of the evidence. This is an easier legal standard to prove because you only need to show the court that your evidence is more likely to be true than false.

Nonetheless, the defendant's attorney will almost certainly present evidence to suggest that there was no negligence. As such, you still need to make sure that you have as much evidence as possible that the dentist failed to perform as he or she should have.

The link between the negligence and your injury

The dentist's negligence won't always directly result in an injury. For example, a serious infection could occur after the dentist installs the implant. Even if you can show that the dentist didn't install the implant correctly, other factors (including your inability to clean the wound site) may lead to the infection. As such, you will need to show how the negligence contributed directly to the injury.

Common examples of reasons for failed implants include:

  • Perforation of the nasal sinuses, which can lead to discomfort and infection

  • Loose implants that occur due to inadequate bone

  • Nerve impairment where the implant interferes with the nerve

In each case, you would need to show how the dentist's negligence directly resulted in the injury, and you may need to discount a claim from the defendant's attorney that something else caused the problem.

The harm caused

Just as negligence is not always the cause of harm, a dentist's sub-standard care may not cause any problems at all. While a dental implant may cause slight nerve impairment, mild symptoms will sometimes subside with no long-term effects. In these cases, you may find it difficult to successfully file a claim for malpractice.

You'll need evidence of any damages incurred. These could include the cost of further dental treatment. You may also lose money because you have to have time off work to recover from the injury. You may also want to file a claim for damage for pain and suffering. An attorney can help you understand the method you should use to calculate these damages.

If you suffer an injury because a dentist fails to install an implant properly, you may want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Talk to an experienced attorney or visit a site like for more advice and information.