this a case for legal action? (Dentist jerk)

This is a long story that I’m going to try to keep as brief as possible. My question is…is there something that can be done here? Lodge a complaint? Sue? I’m not a sue-happy (nor really even sue-interested) person, but this has so pissed me off that I want something done about it.

The story, told as briefly as I can in list form:

[ul][li]I get a job 65 miles away from the dentist of my teen years, a man I’ve long trusted (as has my family). Due to new insurance limitations, I switch to a local dentist. [/li]
[li]This doesn’t directly relate to the events that have pissed me off most, but it is of note: I first went to this dentist because of a tooth that’d been sensitive since biting down on a popcorn kernal. They said it was cracked–though no crack was visible on the X-ray (they told me that)–and I went in for a root canal. The root canal was crappily done and left me with a poorly fitting crown, causing near daily pain, and possibly permanent nerve damage that they told me just happens sometimes.[/li]
[li]I go in for a cleaning a year ago. They tell me I have a small cavity. I schedule for it to be filled, telling them from the get-go I want the silver filling, not the porcelein, as the difference is about $300 for me.[/li]
[li]I arrive for my filling and remind them again I do not want the white filling. They look stunned and write it down in my file.[/li]
[li]I’m sitting IN THE FRICKIN’ CHAIR WITH A HOLE DRILLED IN MY TOOTH and the dentist is trying to mix the porcelein to match my tooth color. I again say, “HEY! I don’t want that, I want the regular silver filling! I don’t want to pay extra.” The dentist seems irked, the assistant embarrassed, saying it was her fault she didn’t check my file ( :smack: ). Then they kept saying “What a shame” it was I wasn’t getting the white filling. Yeah, right. I already have a mouth full of silver–what the hell does it matter if one more tooth has an itty bit in it?[/li]
Now the part that REALLY has me pissed.

[li]Aggravated beyond words with these, and many other examples, of their shitty service (and the uncomfortable feeling that they just want to get as much money out of me as possible), I switch to more expensive insurance that allows me to go to my childhood dentist.[/li]
[li]I saw my wonderful dentist last month. I had not one, but FIVE cavities. These things all popped up in a year?! I don’t think so. Cavities have always been slow progressing for me.[/li]
[li]Had 3 of those cavities filled Monday. Two were so huge and deep that they were borderline root canals–he said if we’d waited a month or so longer, and they would’ve been. He showed me with a mirror just how huge they were.[/li]
[li]Stunned, I wondered allowed how on earth such massive things could be missed by my previous dentist. My dentist postulated that the only thing he’s ever figured about this (he’s seen this very often with these types of cavities–ones that appear under older fillings) is that “they want them to become root canals because it’s more money for them.”[/ul][/li]Granted, that’s his untested hypothesis, but I’ve been burning since he said that. When I got home and told the hubby (who’d seen the same incompetent ass and still is convinced his teeth need more work than they gave), we immediately made an appointment for him to see my dentist. If we find his mouth is a mess, we’re both going to go apeshit.

I really want to get my hands on my x-rays at the old place–if they show the cavities were there then, I want their money-grubbing, incompetent, assholic selves punished. I’m not looking for money, I’m looking to let the world know what JERKS work in this office and how NO ONE should trust their teeth to them.


[sub]<deep breath>[/sub]

Soooooooooo…what actions, if any, can I take?

File a complaint/report with the state dental association, for starters. Or whoever it is that licenses/regulates dentists.

Also, make sure your current dentist gets pictures/x-rays of your teeth now.

If you aren’t interested in the money, don’t sue for exhorborant (sp.?) amounts. Sue them, but only ask for enough to 1.)pay the legal bills encurred suing them and 2.)have the mistakes they missed fixed.

I work for a dentist, and my boss was President of the local chapter of the ADA as well as on the Peer Review board for many years. My thoughts on the matter…

You have a right to your dental xrays. Have them sent to your childhood dentist. Ask that ALL your records be sent at the same time. If you just ask for your records to be sent, they will almost certainly send just the xrays. Be specific. “I want my xrays and copies of ALL chart notes and visual chartings sent to Dr. Soandso. I also want a copy of my periodontal charting. In fact, I want copies of every single record you have concerning me. I will be more than happy to sign a release.”

Do the same for your husband.

After your new (old) dentist has examined your husband and you know exactly where you stand, you can decide how far you want to take this. If the other dentist told you you had no further work necessary and your trusted dentist says you do, ask for a written record of the necessary work that was not noted by the other guy. For both of you.

Then find out who the President of The Other Guy’s local chapter of the ADA is and write him a letter detailing all your experiences and concerns and enclose the record from trusted Dentist showing the work not noted by TOG. (I can find out who the local Pres is if you email me with TOG’s location.) Be very clear about what happened with the tooth colored filling as well…but their main concern will be the undetected or misdiagnosed caries.

Explain that you are not sue-happy, but you feel that TOG is not practicing ethically and you want to make sure that this does not happen to anyone else…and if it takes legal action to prevent that happening, you will be forced to go that route.

Ask them if there is a Peer Review process to resolve situations like this, and if so, what steps should you take to get your “case” reviewed?

Send copies of your letter to the State Dental Licensing Board. I can get THAT address for you as well, and I would be happy to help.

That should get the ball rolling. Hopefully you can get this guy investigated without having to pay a lawyer.

Best of luck, let me know if there is anything I can do.


BTW…there IS such a thing as “Cracked Tooth Syndrome” where you don’t actually have a visible crack in the tooth. This is just FYI…if you did in fact HAVE that, your records should show the diagnostic testing TOG used to determine this…or NOT. :frowning:

Scotticher, you’re awesome! Thank you so much for all of this. I’m about to go to bed, but in the morning I’ll tackle the letter-writing.

A couple of questions…

Would it be better if the letter (requesting file info) was sent via post, or should I hand-deliver it? (Thinking they may want me to sign a release–but I don’t want it to seem heavy handed, either, at least not yet.)

Should I wait until after my hubby has seen our dentist before requesting his files? I suppose it doesn’t matter when. Should the letter be written by the hubby, as a separate letter, or could both requests be in one letter?

Oh–the “Cracked Tooth Syndrome.” I actually don’t doubt something was seriously off with that tooth. It was sensitive to liquids for months (room temp or cold) after biting on the kernal, and one of the tests the dentist did was basically to poke the tooth, and those around it, with sticks of ice. I was on the ceiling when they hit that tooth. Fortunately I’m not doubting the diagnostic competency there; but the crown, less than 2 years old, already needs replaced because it wasn’t made correctly. Grr.

Again…thankyouthankyouthankyou and thank you!

*Gee this crowd is ugly.

You think the crowd is ugly, you should see the dancing girls! Wokka wokka!*

I think I would just call first…if they need you to sign a release you can go in and do it. I doubt they will require a written request for the records, but if they do just send a simple note stating what you want and sign it.

Yes, for both you and your husband.

A couple of more things. Generally speaking, a tooth with a root canal shouldn’t hurt. Generally speaking, a crown should last WAY longer than two years. I am not saying that it couldn’t happen that a job well done COULDN’T have these two things happen…but I would consider it unlikely. JMHO.