Theriot Family Dental

Dealing with a Dental Implant Disaster

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I cracked a tooth and my dentist told me it couldn’t be saved. He pulled it right then and there and I had little time to prepare. He gave me some Novocaine shots which freaking hurt and left me with burning in my mouth and tongue. He told me that was normal and we scheduled the dental implant appointment. Every time I was in the chair I mentioned the burning. He said it was probably thrush and gave me a prescription. That did no good and the burning continued. I looked up the symptoms and it sounds like burning mouth syndrome. A few months after the implant was placed, he said it was ready for the crown. I still had the burning, which he ignored. It hurt a LOT when he tried to screw in the crown. He finally stopped and gave me more Novocaine shots, which helped a bit. A couple of months later, I was out of town and the crown fell off. The dentist I saw there told me it was infected. Everything was burning so much I don’t even think I noticed. The out of town dentist did a surgical procedure to remove it and some bone grafting, but I opted not to have another implant. When I returned home, I went to a different dentist because I lost faith in mine and they gave me a dental bridge. I’ve talked to three attorneys but none of them think it is worth going to court over. I just want my money back from the failed implant as well as the surgery to remove it. Is that possible?


Dear Lara,

dental implant diagram

You have certainly had a rough go of it. The thrush was an obvious misdiagnosis, which I feel you figured out rather quickly yourself. First, the burning was normal, then suddenly it was thrush. Your symptoms do sound like burning mouth syndrome. This often happens when someone has a traumatic appointment or was dealing with dental anxiety during the appointment. You seem to have had a little of both.

I do feel like you are probably entitled to that refund. It does sound like mistakes were made. However, it can be a bit hard to make any money from a dental malpractice suit, which is why you are having difficulty getting a lawyer to work with you. You could take it to court yourself in small claims court. You will need a dentist to say that this dentist made a mistake.

I would start by simply asking the dentist for the refund. He may be willing to take ownership of his mistakes. Again, it would be helpful for you to have another dentist who is willing to state why the dental implant failed. For that, I would go to someone who has real expertise in dental implants. This is an advanced procedure that requires post-doctoral training. Not many dentists invest in that additional training.

When you are getting that opinion, go to someone who is a Fellow with the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. These are the top implant dentists in the world. They should be able to tell you what went wrong with your implant. This will give some weight to your claim. I am a bit concerned about the other dentist’s claim that the implant was infected. If that were the case, they would also be a bit loose and you did not mention anything about that.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. John Theriot.