I was a thumb-sucker as a child and it messed up one of my front teeth to the point it was severely crooked. It didn’t bother me so much growing up, but once I became an adult, it really started to affect my self-confidence. So I decided to have it fixed. I went to my dentist and he suggested a crown.
A few weeks after getting the crown, I started noticing a lot of sensitivity to hot and cold. When I called about it, they said not to worry because that was normal for the first few months. Several more weeks later, it was hurting so bad one day that I ended up going to the ER! From there, my face swelled up and I missed work for a week because I was in so much pain. I ended up getting a second opinion and I was told the tooth was infected and a root canal and new crown would be the only option to fix it. I couldn’t believe it. Evidently the crown was placed improperly and there was an “open margin.” I saw the x-ray and it is blatantly obvious that it was done wrong and the margin is huge.
To make matters worse, I called my original dentist and explained what was going on and asked about getting a refund since the crown was obviously placed wrong. I was told by the office staff that they had no liability in the situation once the crown was placed. I continued to ask why I should have to pay for a crown that failed due to his error and they wouldn’t budge. Having only paid for half of the procedure, I told her they would not get any more money from me. Today I got a notice saying they are taking me to court, so I filed a counter suit. My dentist’s lawyer basically told me if I drop the counter suit, they will relieve me of the debt I still owe. I refuse to do it because I believe my dentist is in the wrong.
How can he not stand behind his work? I missed work, endured days of horrible pain and have had at least ten appointments between the dentist, ER and doctor. AND I had to pay for a root canal and new crown! Am I out of line to expect a refund? — Frank
So sorry you have been through such an ordeal! Based on your information, it would be safe to say that your old dentist is liable because he violated the standard of care. I sounds like he neglected to check the margins for a good fit after seating the crown. An x-ray isn’t typically done, but all it takes is running the explorer around the margins to check for any opening. It’s good that you have the x-ray from your new dentist for documentation.
Unfortunately, in a situation like this, involving lawyers and even going to trial ends up costing more than the money you want back in a refund. It’s just not practical or cost-effective. However, there are some things you can do to pressure your dentist into refunding your money:
- Threaten to go to the dental board with your complaint. It’s not like a malpractice suit, but most dentists want to avoid that.
- Have your new dentist call and talk “dentist to dentist” and verify that there was a problem with the crown. You will need the expert opinion of a dentist – even better if it’s a cosmetic dentist — to back up any claim of negligence if you do go to trial.
- Have a lawyer write a threatening letter. Rather than pay for an entire malpractice case, just having a letter from an attorney can get the dentist to take your complaint more seriously.
Good luck! Hopefully you can put all of this behind you very soon.