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Dental Hygienist Malpractice

During the last half-century, oral hygiene has become an increasingly vital and sophisticated part of dental care. If your dentist or dental hygienist has harmed you by being careless in this area of dentistry, he or she may be held liable for dental malpractice. In this situation, you’ll need a knowledgeable dental malpractice lawyer on your side to get the compensation you deserve.

Every state has rules and regulations known as dental practice acts. If your Texas dentist or hygienist has violated these laws and you have incurred a personal injury as a result, Texas Dental Malpractice Lawyers are equally qualified and ready to defend you.

Types Of Dental Hygienist Negligence

Cleaning your teeth is only one aspect of oral hygiene. Cleaning the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, and spaces between the teeth are all important aspects of good oral hygiene. It also entails meticulous examination for potential oral issues, as well as advice and instruction on personal dental and periodontal (gum) treatment.

If you have been physically injured during your dental procedure, or if your dentist has neglected to diagnose or warn you about a problem that he or she should have recognized and warned you about, you may be eligible for a large compensation.

Undiagnosed cavities or infection, as well as minor damage (e.g., tongue laceration), are all examples of oral hygiene negligence. Other includes the following:

  • Failure To Properly Clean Teeth And Gums

This entails the use of a variety of dental instruments and equipment to remove plaque, tartar, or calculus particles completely. Water flossing is also involved in this procedure.

  • Missing A Peri-Dental Screening And Recording (PSR)

    To detect periodontal disease by probing and recording the status of the gum line at each tooth. Two individuals (one to probe and the other to document findings) should perform a thorough-mouth exam/recording at least once a year.

  • Overlooking The Jaw And Neck

    for swollen glands or other signs of systemic problems

Injury To A Patient During The Cleaning Process


During the cleaning process, a patient may suffer any number of ailments, including:

  • A chipped or broken tooth or laceration of the gum, tongue, or upper palate
  • Being burned by the spillage of a toxic substance 
  • Being cut by or aspirating a broken instrument tip
  • Failing to have a cavity, gum recession, bone loss, or another dental problem diagnosed
  • Failing to have a possible oral cancer detected
  • Failing to have a mouth infection diagnosed or properly treated 
  • Failing to have teeth cleaned properly to prevent damage
  • Failing to have a chipped tooth detected and repaired, resulting in a worsening problem
  • Being examined with unsterilized instruments, resulted in an infection
  • Having mistakes made during the administration of local anesthesia or IV sedation

The Most Common Reasons Dental Hygienists Are Sued

  • Failure To Update Medical History

According to the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, most patients should have a completely fresh medical history every three years. If the patient’s health situation is complicated, additional comprehensive updating is required. However, the medical history should be updated every time the patient visits a doctor’s office. Every time, clinicians should inquire about any changes in the patient’s health since their previous visit. If there are no changes, the notation should read “Patient states no changes in medical history.” The charting technique of writing is a powerful tool for informing the reader that you asked and the patient responded. (Abbreviations are acceptable, such as “Pt. states NCMH.”)

When patients are upset, the dental hygienist should obtain a medical history through a medical history interview and have them sign it at the end.

  • Failure To Detect Oral Pathology

Every patient must be examined thoroughly by a dental hygienist. It is the duty of the dental hygienist to conduct a thorough intraoral/extraoral examination on each patient. Too many hygienists overlook what might be the most essential aspect of their appointment. Removing plaque and calculus can help to relieve inflammation, but detecting a potentially malignant lesion may save the patient’s life. Which is more essential?

See Our Page – Top 10 Reasons Dentists Get Sued

Dental hygienists are not expected to be able to identify (or diagnose) every oral disease, but they must be aware of any abnormalities in the oral cavity. When a lesion is discovered during an examination, the hygienist has an obligation to fully describe the lesion in the patient narrative, including colour, size, texture, and form. Then she must inform the doctor if there is any pathology.

A thorough medical history of the patient and a physical examination of the head and neck region, including a visual inspection and palpation of the head, neck, and oral and pharyngeal regions, should be part of any oral cancer screening. A thorough examination should also include a review of the patient’s social, familial, and medical histories, as well as risk behaviors (smoking and drinking – individuals who drink and smoke are 15 times more likely to get oral cancer), a history of head and neck radiation therapy, family history of head and neck cancer, and individual history of cancer. Patients over the age of 40 are at a considerably higher risk for oral cancer.

If a person’s lip or tongue symptoms persist for longer than two to four weeks, he or she should be promptly referred to an expert for a proper diagnosis. If a persistent oral lesion is discovered during the biopsy procedure, it should be done as soon as possible.

Failure To detect Oral Cancer By A Dental Hygienist Can Occur In Four Distinct Categories

  • Errors In Clinical Judgment:

    The doctor may choose not to perform a test if he or she believes that the person is unlikely to have cancer. This can be done, for example, by failing to perform the indicated diagnostic test because of insufficient evidence of malignancy owing to a patient’s non-abnormal findings.

  • Failure To Follow Up:

    Follow-up mistakes are common owing to the lack of a constant monitoring system that ensures that the patient keeps his or her appointment with the expert and completes the diagnostic test that was ordered.

  • Failure To Screen Patients Appropriately:

    The failure to conduct an annual examination of patients in a high-risk category and the failure to advise routine screening tests on a patient in a risk group are examples of serious deviations.

  • Evaluation Delays:

    When a patient’s clinical picture does not improve despite multiple visits and continuing or progressive pathological changes, as well as the practitioner’s failure to perform necessary diagnostic tests on the patient or to refer him/her for appropriate testing, it is considered neglect. Consultation or referral should be obtained as soon as possible if a definitive cause for an abnormal clinical finding cannot be found.

Early identification is critical and may be aided with a thorough medical history and head and neck examination of the patient. The ability to detect even minor lesions is enhanced with magnification and brighter illumination via a headlight (Designs for Vision, www.designsforvision.com). Patients who are at risk for oral cancer should be identified and advised about risk behaviors and quitting them, as well as encouraged to have routine dental checkups. Patients with suspicious growths should be “kept under a magnifying glass” until the clinician is confident of the diagnosis. A patient with a supposed benign lesion who ends up having malignancy and is not adequately monitored will inevitably lay blame at the dental hygienist’s or oral surgeon’s door, claiming that they were not identified in time.

Accurate records of the disease’s clinical appearance during follow-up are important for a defense in the event of a malpractice claim. Include detailed notes on all talks and warnings to the patient about the need for long-term follow-up, as well as any referrals for consultations with specialists. The patient’s comments during your conversation should be meticulously recorded as well.

  • Failure To Detect Periodontal Disease

Dentists usually turn to dental hygienists to discover locations in the mouth where periodontal disease is an issue. The only reliable method of detecting bone loss at this time is through a periodontal probing/recording examination. Many hygienists perform the major duty of probing, yet many offices have hundreds of patient files with no up-to-date prodding chart for active patients.

The minimum standard of care for periodontal charting is one full-mouth probing/recording per year for every adult patient. The hygienist may fulfil this obligation more effectively with the help of another auxiliary who records the figures as the hygienist calls them out. The Periodontal Screening & Recording (PSR) test is not considered to be a thorough examination of periodontal disease.

  • Injury To A Dental Patient

Injuries can occur during the course of care, such as by accidentally spilling a chemical on a patient, aspiration of an instrument tip that fractures, or slashing the tongue or mucosa as a result of careless instrumentation. If the patient is under anesthesia, he or she may not even be aware of the accident. In the event of an accident, the hygienist should remain calm, call for the doctor immediately, and inform the patient about the situation. Make sure everything is down in writing in the patient account. If a specialist or hospital referral is required, it’s best to have someone from the office go with the patient.

Here Are Two Examples Of Dental Hygienists Being Sued For Personal Injuries:

  • D. P., Plaintiff v. West Town Dental Group, Inc., Defendant.

In April 2002, while she was under anesthesia at a West Town Dental Group dental office, an employee sliced her tongue during a treatment that necessitated her hospitalization for repair, according to the complaint in her dental hygienist malpractice suit filed in 2002. In March 2003, this case was settled for an undisclosed sum.

  • T. H., Plaintiff v. K. W., RDH, Defendant

In his dental hygienist malpractice claim, the plaintiff alleged that his wife experienced an air embolism when a prophy jet apparatus was used to polish her teeth. The patient acquired a black eye, and her husband sued the dental hygienist, claiming he did not want people to believe he caused his wife’s black eye. The suit was dismissed.

Other Areas Of Potential Liability


Here are a few more reasons why hygienists have been sued:

  • Not protecting patient privacy/divulging protected patient information
  • Practicing outside the scope of legal duties
  • Not adhering to standards of care
  • Breaching infection control standards
  • Failure to ask if the patient has premedicated
  • Failure to record thorough documentation
  • Failure to identify or take precautions with a medically compromised patient
  • Upcoding or incorrectly coding procedures
  • Soliciting patients upon change of employment venue
Get Help From Texas Dental Malpractice Lawyers

If you or someone you know was injured by a dental hygienist who did not comply with the necessary standards of care, we can assist. Our knowledgeable attorneys will examine your case and see whether it satisfies the legal criteria in Texas. If it does, we will file a claim on your behalf and proceed with your case to recover economic and other damages.

We are ready to assist you with any legal issues now. There are no fees for our services unless you obtain compensation on a contingency fee basis.