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My Dentist’s Misdiagnosis Led to Unnecessary Tooth Extraction

Young man with his head down portraying disappointment over an unnecessary tooth extractionI was sensitive to cold foods and drinks in my lower right first molar, and my toothache felt worse if I touched the tooth. Since I didn’t have a regular dentist, I used an advertising dentist I had seen on TV and billboards.

The dentist said I had three impacted wisdom teeth, and one may be pushing on a nerve. He also recommended a filling in my tooth. After the filling, my tooth pain increased, so the dentist adjusted my bite and prescribed antibiotics. He told me to take over-the-counter pain medications. The tooth didn’t improve, so the dentist referred me to an oral surgeon for wisdom tooth removal. The first molar tooth still hurts, and I explained that the pain is not near my wisdom teeth.

Two days later, I went to the ER, and they took an X-ray, explaining that I had an abscess. My dentist referred me to an endodontist who was booked for three weeks. The oral surgeon agreed that I had an abscess but recommended an extraction since I couldn’t get a root canal. Now, I have lost a tooth and am out of hundreds of dollars for this nonsense. How can I get my money back? – Thank you. Ryan



Your dentist made severe mistakes in diagnosing and treating your oral pain. We recommend demanding that the dentist pay for your oral surgeon and ER visits and the cost of a dental implant to replace your missing first molar. Explain that you are willing to file a malpractice claim for damages.

Dental Diagnostic and Treatment Mistakes

The mistakes your dentist made with your first molar toothache include the following:

  • Failure to recommend root canal treatment – Your toothache, increased pain when touched, and temperature sensitivity indicated that you needed root canal treatment. Bacteria caused tooth inflammation and probably spread to the root tip, which would cause sensitivity.
  • Unnecessary dental filling and antibiotics —Your dentist placed a filling for deep decay and adjusted your bite. Also, the antibiotic prescriptions suggest that he may have thought you had a tooth infection yet did not recommend root canal treatment or refer you to an endodontist. Still, antibiotics alone do not remedy a tooth infection—root canal treatment does.
  • Facial swelling—After seeing your swelling, it should have been clear that you had an infection. However, you had to go to the ER for help. Your dentist still didn’t drill an opening in your tooth to relieve your pain, which would have helped.
  • Referral to an endodontist who couldn’t help promptly – Finally, after getting a referral, the endodontist couldn’t see you for two weeks. Your dentist should have done everything possible to find a specialist for prompt treatment.

What Can You Do If Your Dentist’s Treatment Was Unnecessary?

If your dentist’s treatment was unnecessary, you may allow them to pay for it before filing a legal claim. Your dentist should be willing to pay to replace your mistakenly extracted tooth with a dental implant. If your dentist is uncooperative, you may seek an attorney. Replacing the tooth is vital to prevent other teeth from drifting. Otherwise, the issue may disrupt your bite and lead to TMJ disorder.

Dr. Thaddeus Michalski, a Rocky Hill, Connecticut dentist and Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, sponsors this post.