Sedation Complications from Dental Negligence


Dental phobia or anxiety is a real problem faced by as many as 15% of Americans. People with dental phobia will actively do everything they can to avoid visiting their dentist, even for just routine check-ups. Unfortunately, this means that patients with dental phobia are often suffering from dental health disorder, and in some cases where dental problems are left untreated, their general wellbeing may also be affected. Dentists will often recommend sedation dentistry for patients with dental phobia. Unfortunately, some patients are unqualified in administering sedation, which can sometimes lead to patient complications, malpractice, and negligence.

What is dental sedation?

To make dental services more accessible to nervous or phobic patients, an increasing number of dental professionals are offering sedation services. This involves giving the patient either a gas to inhale or a medication that helps them to relax and remain still and calm during a check-up or treatment. There are different levels of sedation available depending on the extent of your fear and the type of treatment required.

While most dentists can administer minimal sedation, which is usually given in the form of nitrous oxide gas. However, only a small percentage of dentists have completed the necessary training required to be able so safely perform moderate and deep sedation which carry greater risks. Some dentists will use an anesthesiologist to provide this service, but again they should be adequately trained. Most states in the United States require dentists to hold permits in order to perform sedation, and this is something you should verify when it comes to requesting sedation services from your dentist.

While sedation is generally considered safe when carried out by a qualified, trained, and experienced dentist or anesthesiologist, if it is performed by a sub-standard professional, complications can arise.

Sedation complications arising from dental negligence

Some of the serious complications that may arise as a result of sedation performed by a negligent party include:

  • Respiratory depression. This is where the body does not receive enough oxygen.
  • Hypoxia. This is the medical term used to describe there not being enough oxygen reaching the blood or bodily tissues which can quickly cause irreversible damage to your internal organs.
  • Over-sedation. Reaching a level of sedation that is deeper than required can be dangerous for patients who are medically-compromised. For this reason, most dentists insist on using the lowest effective dose of the sedative agent chosen.

To help minimize the risk of complications, patients should be continually monitored while under sedation. Failure to do so can cause complications to arise.

Milder side effects of sedation dentistry that you can expect to experience include dizziness, nausea, possible vomiting, and a dry mouth. In most instances, these effects will fade quickly once the sedative drug is out of your system.

If you have suffered problems as a result of negligence during sedation or provided sedation dentistry without overviewing the risks of sedation treatment, you may be wondering what you can do. Proving that your dentist is at fault can be difficult if you have never pursued such a case before. However, our expert dental malpractice attorneys have the knowledge and experience needed to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your experience.

For a free, no-obligation confidential case review, do not hesitate to contact our office today at 603-833-4200.