Need advice from dentists and or malpractice lawyer.. for a friend

I have a friend who has limited income. He had an abscessed tooth and went to a cheap dentist who charged him I believe 1200 dollars for a root canal. Money he just didn't have, so some of us chipped in to help. Anyway, three weeks after the root canal he is still in a great deal of pain as if it is still abscessed. He went to a different doctor today who told him it is possibly a botched root canal. He is making his way back to the first dentist to have them fix this, but now they are telling him he has to come up with thousands more dollars for a specialist.

At this point, I have said he may need to contact a lawyer for dental malpractice, and file a complaint. Unfortunately that isn't helping him now, he is dealing with a great deal of pain with no sight of relief.

I would tell him to just have the damn tooth pulled, but he is lacking quite a few teeth and really wants to keep what he still has.

Poor thing, I do care about this person. So if anyone has any advice, or knows something about these type procedures, I will pass it on to him.
surcher's Avatar
Will dental colleges take him and help him while you search for answers? What are the options for the tooth, thousands to deal with the abscess and infection, or a few hundred to pull it and treat it? You don't want to go back to the original dentist if litigation is in the future. You'll need more than one diagnosis stating the original surgery was botched, then, if it's anything like regular medical malpractice, it goes before a board of dentists to decide if you have a case. Unless it's overwhelming evidence of malpractice, they stick together and vote no.

Good luck!
CPT Savajo's Avatar
I agree with you Guilty Pleasures, I think he would have been better off it the tooth would have been pulled.
Dental college, you know I didn't think about that. Thanks Surcher, I will look into it for him. Yea, I don't why he didn't just pull it, but I do understand that when you have not many teeth left you try to hold on to what ya got. He is on a fixed, and I mean very fixed income.

Anyway, thanks for the advice and I will do some research and see what I can come up with.
I have had just about every tooth in my mouth root canaled, what are not are implants. It's a product of getting old.

About 5 years ago, the same thing happenned to me. I had a molar root canaled, then capped. About a week later, it started hurting like all get out. The Dentist had but a contaminated wadding, (that stuff they stuff in there), and it got bad quick.

I talked to an attoney, he contacted the dentist, and they gave me all of these nice new implants I have in front. That was about $15,000 worth of work so I would be satisfyed. I demanded nothing for pain and sufferring, they paid my attorney.

If your friend is not wanting to recupe pain and sufferring, the Dentist might work with him to satisfaction. But, as you said, he wasn't that good in the first place, so going back might not be an option.

A word of warning to all of you young people. Don't just arbitrarilly pull a tooth because it is the cheap option. Trust me, later in life, you will need every one of them you can save.
Hard to say if malpractice. He definitely needs to have this taken care off. Beyond pain, there is a real danger of infection spreading into neck and face.

Go to a different dentist. This has advantages regarding evidence for future litigation, plus the 1 guy may not have done a good job. If he has lost a number of teeth, he probably has peridontal disease and would have a hard time saving his teeth without prolonged and expensive peridontal work. If this is the case, and he cannot afford it, he should consider just getting the tooth pulled.

I really thing just an opinion from another dentist, hopefully that someone you know likes and trusts, is in order. He should also be on penicillin for now. He can get this at a local health department.

Best of luck to your friend.
TexTushHog's Avatar
Way too many issues to solve over the internet. But I will tell you that your friend needs to be able to prove that he took all his post procedure antibiotics. Second, he needs to make sure that he actually still has an abscessed tooth rather than a condition called dry socket.
cptjohnstone's Avatar
Baylor has a dental school in Dallas (?) I have rotten teeth also, aside from what has been said bacteria from infected teeth can go to your heart
First. Not all root canals work, even when well done. The failure rate is about 4%. On the other hand the success rate is 96%. 2nd. the canals can be calcified or curved making it almost impossible to totally cleanout all the infected nerve tissue. 3rd. root canal specialists deal with this everday. they do cost more but the have the extra training, expertise and equipment to handle the more difficult procedures.
4th. Go to a root canal specialist (Endodontist). If the original procedure was truely poorly done, get the xray and a note from the specialist explaining why the treatment failed. request a refund from the original Dentist, and then use that money to pay the specialist. Litigation will tie this up for months or years, he will lose the tooth or worse. If you can not reach an agreement with the original doctor then mention you will be filing a complaint with the Texas Board of Dental Examiners. No dentist wants to deal with them. They want to keep a low profile and would much rather return the money in return for a release of liability (even if they have done nothing wrong) Bear in mind that many times a badly decayed tooth that is infected is possibly not a candidate for root canal therapy and has a poor prognosis for success. The patient would be presented with the option for extraction and may request that the root canal be done anyway thinking (if it don't work I can always pull it later). The root canal can be well done but if the tooth fractures before the restorative procedure is done (usually a crown) and the crown was not done due to the patients financial restrictions then the tooth is no longer fixable and must be removed. (and if that is the case the original Dentist would have no responsibility or liability to refund or retreat) We do not know all the facts in this case. Sometimes it is beter to remove the tooth if the prognosis is guarded and replace it with an appliance, bridge or implant. The best sucess rate is extraction and implant (but even that is not 100%) The important thing is to get the problem attended to quickly. Litigation will not do that. Once lawyers are in the picture the Dental Board will most likely decline to be involved. Most Dentists would rather refund the money and deflate the problem than deal with the Board. One more thing. If the root canal was not done to standard of care, get the xray, the diagnosis and make an appointment with the original Dentist personally. Not his office manager, dental assistant or front desk receptionist. Explain the problem to the Dentist directly, and state you have lost confidence in his ability to retreat the tooth and are going to have specialist retreat it. Do this in a polite and civil manner directly with the dentist in a private setting and I would bet he/she will get a refund on the treatment.
Also note there are Dental Schools in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Your friends problem may be beyond the skills of the general dental student. However, they all have specialty training shcools in endodontics and may also have a program that allows board certified endodontists teaching at the school to participate in a semi private practice mode at reduced fees (maybe 30% less than "civilian" fees) He should try to get into the endo program at the dental schools with a resident endodontist or staff endodontist.
Munchmasterman's Avatar
I have had just about every tooth in my mouth root canaled, what are not are implants. It's a product of getting old.

About 5 years ago, the same thing happenned to me. I had a molar root canaled, then capped. About a week later, it started hurting like all get out. The Dentist had but a contaminated wadding, (that stuff they stuff in there), and it got bad quick.

I talked to an attoney, he contacted the dentist, and they gave me all of these nice new implants I have in front. That was about $15,000 worth of work so I would be satisfyed. I demanded nothing for pain and sufferring, they paid my attorney.

If your friend is not wanting to recupe pain and sufferring, the Dentist might work with him to satisfaction. But, as you said, he wasn't that good in the first place, so going back might not be an option.

A word of warning to all of you young people. Don't just arbitrarilly pull a tooth because it is the cheap option. Trust me, later in life, you will need every one of them you can save. Originally Posted by Jackie S
OP aside, no one else sees something wrong with getting $15,000 worth of work for a procedure done because of advancing age, a procedure that has a certain number of failures due to no fault of the dentist, a procedure it could take many thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and months if not years in the legal system to just prove a high percentage of the total blame belongs to the dentist? How many of the attorney’s teeth got fixed? Oh that’s right. They don’t barter much. With all the claimed frivolous lawsuits being filed, an attorney recommending this be settled quickly and for much less is a mixed return. Sounds like you have dental insurance. Did you speak with the dentist before taking your attorney in with you? Did he refuse to correct his “mistake”? if this had been me, the dentist gets a chance to correct his mistake. If I had to involve an attorney there would be no way I would allow the dentist to touch me. And of course suing the be-Jesus out of the dentist. Think of “Marathon Man” except you would be unconscious.

O.M.G!!! A real life situation with no best right or wrong answer. A situation that tweeting couldn’t begin to convey, with all the gray areas, the opportunities, the MOLAR dilemmas, possible impacts on self-esteem because of inaction, possible impacts on self-esteem because of questionable actions!
Contrary to my tone, I can’t say I would have done less and can’t condemn getting more…..a lot more out of this deal.

I think the only thing I could say for sure is that my actions would not have been a topic of discussion in the public domain
I would also offer the quassi-quote to Jackie’s attorney, a sentiment I reserve for few attorneys (except my lovely daughter who took her bar exams in July and my dad who would have “smartened me up” for considering the degree of abuse I “might” have visited on our legal system), to him I would say “You are a better man than I, Gunga Din”.
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