Almost no one likes going to the dentist. Its uncomfortable, the drill sounds terrifying, and the lectures on why you should be flossing more often are guilt inducing. However, even though some of us fear the dentist and think that the procedures may hurt, very few people imagine that their dentist may actually cause them lasting harm. But, just like a surgeon or a primary care physician can commit medical malpractice, a dentist can commit dental malpractice. Now there are allegations that one celebrity dentist has done just that on numerous occasions.
Celebrity Dentist from “The Swan” Faces Eighty-Six Allegations of Misdiagnoses and Botched Procedures
The Orange County Register reports that dentist Dr. Sherri Worth is facing a long list of allegations from the Dental Board of California. Worth gained celebrity status when she acted as a dentist on the relatively short-lived reality show “The Swan.” Her regular dental practice is in Newport Beach, California. Back in 2012 she lost a malpractice lawsuit and was ordered to pay the plaintiff $641,542. In that case an arbitrator found that Worth had incorrectly installed a patient’s crowns and that as a result the patient suffered relentless pain. The allegations from this lawsuit are included in the Dental Board’s complaint against Worth.
The crowns are not the only procedure Worth is accused of messing up. The complaint includes 86 allegedly botched procedures. They include things like wrongful diagnosis of tooth decay and fractures, but they also include allegations that Worth performed expensive treatments without giving patients more cost effective options. She is also accused of removing healthy gum tissue. The Dental Board even alleges that Worth intentionally destroyed records in the case that resulted in the 2012 lawsuit by spilling diet soda on them.
How Common is Dental Malpractice?
It is impossible to state exactly how many cases of dental malpractice happen nationwide each year. However, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2008 that even according to best estimates, around five percent of dental patients wind up suffering from malpractice. However, there are indications that dental malpractice often goes unreported. After all, people expect their trip to the dentist to hurt and they trust that their dentist knows what he or she is doing, so they do not question what their dentist has done.
While problems in other areas of medicine often come to light in medical papers or at conferences where doctors discuss what went wrong, dentists do not discuss errors as openly. Another issue that patients need to understand is that dentists are not jacks of all trades. While we may think that a dentist can do anything related to your teeth, some procedures really should be done by specialists. If your every day dentist who does your teeth cleanings wants to perform a complex dental surgery on you, you may want to consider a second opinion and should certainly ask questions about the dentist’s qualifications to do so.
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