Dentists are doctors who promote oral health and work to prevent and diagnose oral diseases. Dentists may:
- Create treatment plans to maintain or restore the oral health of their patients
- Interpret X-rays and diagnostic tests
- Ensure the safe administration of anesthetics
- Monitor growth and development of the teeth and jaws
- Perform surgical procedures on the teeth, bone and soft tissues of the oral cavity
Most dentists work in offices, either within a practice with a staff or by themselves.
There are currently 146,800 dentists in the United States.
To become a dentist, a candidate must obtain a bachelor's degree; successfully complete the Dental Acceptance test (DAT); complete a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) Degree, and successfully pass national and state licensing exams.
If a candidate is interested in a specific specialty within the dentistry field, they will likely be required to complete a one to two-year residency program that is related to their chosen specialty.
All states require dentists to be licensed but the licensing laws vary state to state. However, the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations developed the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE), which is a pass/fail exam that a candidate must pass in order to practice dentistry in any state.
Where Dentists Work
Most dentists employ themselves through their own practice and work as general dental practitioners providing dental care to the public. In fact, approximately 80% of all dentists practice general dentistry.
On average, dentists earn $142,428 annually with salaries ranging between $127,184 and $166,528.
How Dentists Help People
Dentists help people by performing important duties in the maintenance of the oral health of patients. Dentists often see patients more than once a year in order to keep patients on top of their individual oral care.
Additionally, dentists perform treatments like filling a tooth to prevent the spread of a cavity; tooth extraction to prevent the spread of pain and decay, as well as cleaning and polishing teeth.
Outside of general care, it is possible that a dentist will focus on a specialty like:
- Endodontics - performing root canal treatments and other procedures and examinations involving the inner tooth
- Orthodontics - dealing with the straightening and alignment of the teeth and jaw
- Periodontics - dealing with gum disease and other gum ailments
- Pediatrics - specializes in treating children's teeth
Dentists and Dental Malpractice In Maryland
Dental malpractice occurs when a dentist deviates from the dental standard of care in his or her community, and as a result of that deviation a patient is injured.
The dental standard of care is that level of care which competent dentists in the community would have provided to a patient under similar circumstances. Therefore, when looking at a potential medical malpractice claim, certain criteria must be met:
- a dentist-patient relationship must have existed
- the care provider must owe the patient a duty of care
- there was a failure in some part of the duty of care
- the lack of care was the proximate cause of harm, and
- a harm occurred
Examples of possible negligence on the part of a dentist include:
- Improper extraction of teeth
- Failure to diagnose various conditions
- Failure to properly treat complications of care
- Failure to properly supervise or oversee actions of employees
- Wrongfully administered anesthesia
- Failure to refer to a specialist
- Lack of informed consent
If a dentist has committed any of the aforementioned errors, the patient may be entitled to sue for damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, lost wages, and disability.
Experienced Maryland Dental Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered a negligent injury from a dentist, call the attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162. You have the right to expect dental professionals to operate within the required standard of care. If you suspect that your dentist acted negligently, you need an experienced dental malpractice attorney. The attorneys and on-staff physician at Gilman & Bedigian can evaluate your case to determine whether you have a claim against a dentist.