This dental malpractice claim was filed in Montgomery County after a dentist placed ill-fitting crowns. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on February 21, 2018, and it is the 90th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations
A man underwent a variety of dental services at Twinbrook Dental Center including cleanings, examinations, x-rays, fillings, crowns, and bridges. After eighteen years as a Twinbrook patient, the man changed dentists. The new dentist examined the man's four crowns and determined that they were ill-fitting, had open margins, and the underlying teeth were decaying beneath each of them.
Plaintiff's dental malpractice lawyer filed a lawsuit alleging that a reasonable, prudent dentist in the same or similar circumstances would not have put those crowns on the patient because they clearly did not fit.Additional Comments
What is an open margin? An open margin (sometimes "overhung margin" or "overcontoured margin" are used synonymously) is when the edge of the crown does not meet with the margin as prepared on the tooth, so you have an opening under there. Bacteria, saliva, and food are going to going to get under there and the result may be the kind of decay this man experienced. An open margin can also cause the patient extreme sensitivity and pain What should a dentist do if there is an open margin? The standard of care requires the dentist to remake the crown.
The key to avoiding an open margin is proper contouring which starts first with proper reduction. Often the dentist does not reduce the tooth enough and takes an impression and sends it to the lab. You are going to get a crown that is too big. But the dentist has to be willing to go back to send the tooth back to the lab to make sure it gets done right.
We are medical malpractice lawyers so of course our sympathies lean towards the victims in all of these malpractice cases we are writing about. We are also glad that there are dental malpractice attorneys in Maryland who are willing to hold bad dentists' feet to the fire and bring what some lawyer would look at as a claim too small to justify a malpractice case. That said, because the claimant's damages are so minor, this case is unlikely to go very far. Granted, the claimant had to pay for the cost of dental treatment to repair his ill-fitting crowns and treat his tooth decay; but when it was all said and done, the claimant walked away without any permanent injuries or pain.
If this case does go to court, the claimant will have a hard time convincing a jury that his life was significantly impacted as a result of his dentist's malpractice. Dentists routinely leave the margins of the crown open and inadequately sealed. This leaves spaces for leakage of the biofilm of the mouth to enter the space and cause decay under the crowns.
The claimant was very lucky to find a lawyer willing to take on his case. Should the lawsuit continue, the next step is to find an expert witness in dentistry. If this case has a hope of success, the expert witness will have to make a compelling testimony about how the claimant's tooth decay was definitively caused by the shoddy crowns. The smart money bets the victim's lawyer will be able to do this.
The harder play is convincing a jury to award a damage amount that justifies the award. A Montgomery County might hate what this dentist did and still no award enough damages to justify the lawsuit.
November 2019 Update: The case was dismissed for reasons we could not gather and the plaintiff's dental malpractice lawyer noted an appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
- Montgomery County
- A Rockville dentist
- Twinbrook Dental Center (both defended by Baxter, Baker, Sidle, Conn & Jones)
- Failing to properly design, prepare, fabricate, and seat dental crowns.
- As a direct result of the dentist's negligence, the claimant suffered pain and required additional dental treatment.
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