You don’t expect a visit to the dentist to have tragic consequences. However, the reality is that you place your life in the dentist’s hands anytime you undergo dental surgery. That’s why dentists have to make it through extensive schooling and be licensed and certified by professional organizations before they will be allowed to practice dentistry and treat patients. The problem is that even a highly trained dentist can make a mistake or have a momentary lapse in judgment. In many instances, improper treatment can exacerbate your pain and discomfort. In the worse cases, a dental mistake can be fatal.
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One of the most common dental mistakes is improper use of anesthetics. Dentists often administer anesthetic during routine dental procedures, such as when they fill a patient’s cavities. The anesthetic ensures that the patient’s mouth is sufficiently numb and free from pain while the dentist performs the minor procedure. Problems can arise, however, when the dentist improperly administers the anesthetic. For example, it is incumbent upon the dentist to find out whether the patient has a heart condition prior to putting the patient in a state of general anesthesia because this can cause the patient to have a stroke or suffer cardiac arrest. Additionally, the dentist needs to make sure that the patient is not allergic to the anesthetic because an allergic reaction could prove fatal.
Another common dental mistake is failing to stop excessive bleeding. While most patients have an expectation that dental procedures will result in some amount of blood, you do not expect an excessive amount of blood that endangers your wellbeing. When the patient bleeds too much, the dentist needs to take steps to stop the bleeding and ensure that the patient does not inhale the blood into their lungs.
In recent years, another type of dental mistake has been getting a lot of media attention: prescription drug errors. Dentists can prescribe prescription opioids to help patients deal with intense pain following dental surgery. When the dentist makes a mistake and accidentally prescribes the wrong dosage, however, the patient can potentially overdose on the prescription drugs. This type of dental mistake underscores the importance of exercising caution during all phases of a dental procedure, including postoperative treatment.