Hello Doctor Hall,
I had an implant done recently. And prior to that my doctor said the bone was ready for the implant but when I woke up from surgery he told me that the bone was poor but he still put the implant knowing that. And now he wants to remove the implant and give me a bridge, I don’t want a bridge so I would like to know if will I be able to get a refund or even some of that money back because I feel like he’s making me go through unnecessary surgery, he knew the bone density was not so great but still Went ahead an placed an implant that cost me almost $3000 and now he wants to remove it.
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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This seems like poor dentistry, but more than that I’m wondering how your dentist thinks he can get away with this. Let’s deal with two aspects of your situation—the law, and the dentistry.
First, about the law. Yes, of course if the implant can’t be used to support your replacement tooth—for whatever reason—your dentist should give you a refund. What good is the implant otherwise? It was placed to support a tooth and it can’t do that. There is a legal principle called an implied warranty. Stated succinctly, this is, “A promise, arising by operation of law, that something that is sold will be merchantable and fit for the purpose for which it is sold.” The warranty doesn’t have to be spoken or written—it is implied by the nature of the product or service. You went to your dentist to get a replacement tooth. He told you that to do that he would give you an implant and then place the crown on the implant. There is an implied warranty in the service he is rendering that the implant will actually support a tooth. Since it can’t, he owes you a refund.
But second, there are dental issues here. Now admittedly I am just going by what you are telling me and I am making some assumptions about this. But it sounds like your dentist didn’t get adequate diagnostic information if he didn’t discover that you had inadequate bone before starting the surgery. That is what x-rays are for, as well as the examination that should precede any dental treatment. And even lacking that, he could see when he was in the middle of the surgery that the bone density wasn’t adequate, but went ahead and placed the implant anyway. If that is what he actually did, to me sounds like malpractice—it’s a breach of the standard of care. So by that standard, he owes you more than just a refund of what you paid for the procedure, since there is some inconvenience, trauma, and risk that you have endured.
And finally, there are more options than going to a bridge. If you really want an implant, you can get bone grafting to build up the bone prior to placement of the implant. If it were my mouth, that’s what I would want.
What do you do from here? You can start by demanding a refund. If he resists, I would find another dentist who can do the bone grafting and place the implant correctly, and ask them to help you get that refund. You also have leverage by threatening to report him to the dental board. If there is an insurance company that has paid part of the bill, you can tell them. Or you can get a lawyer. And if it were me, I would demand that he pay me to go to an oral surgeon or periodontist who can do the bone graft and the implant placement. I would ask that he pay that entire bill.
In his defense, at least he didn’t go ahead and put the tooth on the implant. I have heard dental implant horror stories where something like that has happened. The tooth may have worked fine for even a couple of years and then the implant could have become loose or fallen out. So at least he has enough ethics to tell you the truth.
Feel free to keep me posted.
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.