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Can I Sue My Dentist For Negligence?

New York, NY |

In 2006, my left incisor turned gray. My dentist gave me a root canal, then bleached the inside of my tooth so it matched the rest. A year later, my tooth darkened. In 2010, I decided to get a veneer. It looked great, but a few weeks later, my gum line turned red. Another dentist told me the veneer had been placed badly. I didn't live in NYC anymore, so I dealt with the red gum until I could get home. My NY dentist filed down my veneer but it didn't help. She lasered off the red gum, but it grew back red. She wanted to replace the veneer but I no longer trusted her so went to another dentist. He said the problem was the veneer's placement. He gave me a tool to clean it more deeply and it helped a lot. But last night it popped off in one piece! Is this negligence?

I've always been paranoid about my veneer so do not bite into anything hard. I floss religiously. I've read that if a veneer comes off in one piece, it's because there was an error in the bonding process. The other two dentists I saw told me that the veneer had been placed badly, forming a pocket between tooth and veneer so that messy cement was trapped underneath my gum. When the 2nd dentist cleaned out the sloppy cement, my gum looked healthy for a week before it turned red again. The 3rd dentist told me that the veneer's placement was trapping bacteria so I had to clean with a special tool. My New York dentist, naturally, never mentioned anything about the veneer's placement; when she wanted to replace it, she said "Free of charge." I am seeing the 3rd dentist tomorrow to hopefully have the veneer glued back on but am furious with my original dentist. I hate to do something as drastic as suing for malpractice but this veneer has been one problem after another. Thank you for your time!

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Attorney answers 5


It sounds like you may have a case but I would recommend you speak directly with an attorney. Most including myself, offer free consultations and wouldn't charge unless they won your case.
Nick Misiti, Esq.
212 537 4407

Legal disclaimer: The statement above is general in nature, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.


As you may be aware, malpractice cases are expensive to pursue. Damages in a dental case are limited and are often not great enough to pursue a lawsuit. You should consult an attorney in NY that has a fee cosultation. Fidning an attorney who regularly handles dental malpractice cases will increase your odds that they would be willing to help you since that attorney should have some skill in keeping costs low.


I always like the question "Can I sue?" The Answer is thankfully almost always "yes". The real issue is not can you sue, but does your case have merit. Dental malpractice cases are always difficult because even if you can establish that the dentist comitted malpractice, you then need to establish damages. I most dental cases, those are usually limited to your pain and suffering and out-of-pocket expenses.When you make it to the right dentist for correction, after treatment, you are usually back to status quo. With there being limited damages, it is sometimes difficult to find an attorney willing to take on the expense and effort necessary in these type of cases. You should attempt to consult with an attorney in your area to discuss the merits of the case.

This does not create and attorney client relationship. As with all legal matters, you should contact an attorney in your jurisdiction who is familiar with the are of law in which you need assistance. You should make contact and seek advise as soon as possible as some claims have time limits and restrictions.


Based on what you have described, I doubt that you will be able to find an attorney that would be willing to pursue a dental malpractice action for you. The damages are limited to the repair and replacement of the veneer, and perhaps some lost income and pain & suffering, which does not seem severe. There is no permanency, and as it is nearly impossible to pursue a malpractice case for less than 10k in out of pocket expense, I don't see the case as viable based on your description.

It does not appear that you received what you paid for, so you could sue for breach of contract to get your money back. You can do this in small claims court. Your case would be complicated by the fact that the dentist offered to fix the veneer for free, but you did not allow her to do so.



Gentlemen, thank you so much for your prompt replies. The truth is, I'm loath to do something so potentially damaging to someone's career, particularly when I liked her so much to begin with. I believe I would prefer to see if I can get a refund. If I still trusted her (and if I still lived in the United States) I would have been happy to have her fix it for free but it's hard to get the trust back when it's broken.



Also, @Daniel - "Can I sue?" Of course, you're right... we all *can* sue, but should we? I thank you again, gentlemen, for your time.


As stated in one of the previous answers, yes you can sue. The quesion is will you be successful and will it be worht the time and money needed. I have been handling dental malpractice cases for many years. Your particular situation sounds like the damages are very limited and it may not be worth the time and money to pursue. However, you are willing to call my firm at 718-897-2211 to discuss this further. Additionally, there are other avenues you can pursue such as contacting the dentist's local peer review comittee.

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