Last July I bit into a sandwich and cracked #12 tooth (upper left first premolar). My dentist of three years said it could not be saved, so he pulled it. He gave me many novocaine shots & one felt like it went to my brain. I left feeling a burning/tingling on my tongue and palate in my mouth. He proceeded with a tooth implant process and every time I was in his chair I complained about the burning in my mouth. He said I had thrush and prescribed medicated mouth rinse & said burning would go away. Three months later (October), he said I was ready for implant crown. It hurt so bad when he was trying to install/screw the crown onto the implant, so he stopped and gave me more novocaine shots.
Then on December 3rd, while I was in Arizona for the winter, the crown fell off. I still had burning mouth syndrome. I went to a dentist there and he said that the implant was infected and needed to come out. That required surgery with incision from bottom to top/front. He did more bone grafting but I said no more tooth implants. I got home from Arizona in April and in June my husband’s dentist put in a 3-tooth bridge. This dentist said it should never hurt for the final install of a tooth crown. I tried contacting three attorney’s offices but they say a dental lawsuit is hard to win. I’d like my original dentist to refund what I paid for the implant, plus the surgery to take out the infected implant and then get the bridge. Pain and suffering would be a nice bonus. I’ve been in a dentist chair 22 times since last July. I still have burning mouth syndrome. Is there any way I can make the original dentist pay for all of this damage to my mouth?
– Gladys from Colorado
I Googled How to ask for a refund from your dentist for a failed tooth implant.
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
We thank our advertisers who help fund this site.
You have quite the story!
The reason you were hard to get numb is because of the high level of anxiety you had during this appointment. That could also explains the burning you felt. Burning mouth syndrome, while the cause is officially unknown, does seem to have an association with traumatic dental experiences. Your dentist blaming that on thrush makes me chuckle a little. Since this never went away, you must have figured out that diagnosis was wrong.
While not every dental implant failure is caused by improper procedure, a lot of them are. Placing an implant is a very demanding procedure, and many dentists don’t have adequate training for that. And what you have told me about your dental care leads me to be very suspicious of the dentist who placed the implant. He was probably at fault. We have the thrush misdiagnosis, and we have the crown coming off the implant besides the implant then failing. It doesn’t look good for him. But to prove that he was at fault, we would need another dentist who examined you to say that he was at fault.
The problem with bringing a lawsuit, besides needing an expert witness, is that dental malpractice cases don’t pay well. So that could be part of your problem in getting a lawyer. You could go to small claims court without a lawyer, but your would still need a dentist to testify that your first dentist was at fault.
And I do have a question about the dentist in Arizona. You didn’t say anything about the implant being loose. If it was infected it would be at least a little loose. I hope that was the case. From your description of how the first dentist put the crown on the implant, with the pain that caused, makes me guess that he put too much force on the implant. If he did, that could have damaged the bond between the implant and the surrounding bone, leading to later implant failure.
What can you do besides that? You can threaten reporting him to the dental board. If there was any dental insurance involved, you could threaten reporting him to the insurer. But I would scale back your demands to a partial refund, because it would be very easy for the dentist to claim that there was some other reason the implant failed. The crown coming off the implant and the thrush misdiagnosis are more easily provable errors.
Do you have a comment or anything else to add? We’d love to hear from you. Enter your comment below. Or click here to ask Dr. Hall a question.