Can I sue the dentist for cutting my tongue?

By February 13, 2017 November 30th, 2018 General Dentistry, Oral Health
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I’m not a person who just walks around looking to sue a dentist. I’ve never filed a lawsuit and I’m not hurting for money. I’m just considering it based on principle and rudeness and the fact that I can’t think of another way to help this from happening to another patient.

I went to an oral surgeon yesterday to get a bottom right molar pulled. The tooth was impacted and partially sideways so I was sent to this guy. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be cared for properly. He rushed me through my consultation and made little eye contact with me. My dentist recommended him so I moved forward.

So yesterday while the dentist was pulling out my tooth, he cursed. I felt pain underneath my tongue and when I said something like, “Ouch! What’s going on?!”, the dentist said I had a soft tissue tear. Then he told me he would stich it up right away. I could tell by the look on his assistant’s face that he did something careless. She looked at me like, ‘shame on him’, but she didn’t say anything to either of us. She just patted by hand.

So when the tooth was out and everything was done I asked to look at my tongue. I could tell that he cut my tongue and it wasn’t a random tear. So as asked the dentist if he cut my tongue and his reply was, “It has 8 secure stitches and in a few weeks you won’t notice it at all.” Then he left the room. Jerk.

I’m angry that he was careless, didn’t apologize and wasn’t really truthful about what happen. I am definitely reporting this to a dental board or wherever I need to report it. I’m thinking that my report will get swept under the table and I really need to sue this dentist so that he will think twice about being rude to other patients or treating them like I was treated. What do I need to document to make sure this jerk doesn’t do this again? Thanks. Brooke

Brooke – Based on your comments, it does sound like the dentist was careless and rude. Your cut sounds like it was deep or long—eight stitches!

Even the most skilled dental surgeon can make a mistake though, and it sounds like he took immediate action to repair the damage to your tongue. It also sounds like it’s really his attitude and chairside manner that are really making you angry and feeling like suing the dentist. Additionally, the dentist’s failure to apologize and failure to tell you what really happened seemed to be adding to your frustration.

We’re not defending the oral surgeon’s attitude or response, but when lower molars are worked on, it’s easy to injure the tongue. A metal retractor can be used to hold the tongue away from the extraction site and prevent injury. Perhaps it wasn’t used and your tongue was accidently cut. The surgeon might have been embarrassed and too proud to apologize.

You can report the incident to the dental board, but it might not result in any reprimand—and not the kind you might be hoping for—unless there are multiple complaints in the dentist’s file. We’re not aware of any disciplinary action of a dentist or surgeon for rudeness.

An attempt to sue the dentist probably won’t go far. Your cut was an accident that doesn’t seem to indicate intentional negligence that wasn’t properly cared for.

What you can do is let your general dentist know about the incident, in case he or she has received repeated complaints from other patients about this surgeon. We’re sorry that you had this negative experience and hope for a better outcome if you need an oral surgeon in the future.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.