Can I sue my dentist for orthodontic malpractice

I am in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had braces put on by my general dentist. I wore them for 2 years. When the braces were removed I could not close my mouth. He brushed me off and said I was trying for perfection. That was not the case. I then began to have panic attacks because everything felt wrong in my mouth. My jaw began to lock up. For the next year everything continued to get worse. My jaw would not open. I am in constant pain. I have lost the muscle recognition in my jaw. I went for several second opinions from Orthodontists and they said i would need braces again because my teeth are in the wrong position for my facial structure. My dentist refunded me my money for the braces that I paid for from him and made me sign a document stating he would not be admitting to fault and would be released from future cases with me. I wrote on the form I did not agree with this but had to sign in order to get my money so I could seek future treatment to get my teeth corrected. I felt like I signed under duress as I am in so much pain but need the money to pay for the new braces. I have since been in physical therapy, and now have to see 2 specialists in order to get my jaw in the correct position. The specialist I am seeing now stated my teeth are so incorrect he cant believe I have endured a year of this pain. It is all starting with my molars being in the wrong position and causing my moth to not close. I want to force my dentist to pay for all of my medical bills. He caused all of this and also my pain and suffering this past year has been unbearable and has caused such stress in my family life. I am having difficulty finding lawyers who specialize in dental malpractice in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Pearl Wilson, Lawyer’s Assistant

Asked on January 10, 2018 under Malpractice Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, a dentist may be sued for dental or orthodontic malpractice, but based on what you write, you cannot sue this dentist. You signed a release form in exchange for money: whether or not you had a good reason to do so (felt you needed the money for new braces), or felt you signed under pressure or "duress," does not matter--you signed a form stating you released him from future cases in exchange for payment. Such a release is legally binding on you and enforceable. The comments you wrote on the form, that you did not agree with it, are irrelevant: you *did* agree with it in a legal sense by signing the form and accepting the payment that went with it, when you could instead of foregone the money and filed a lawsuit. Once you sign a release, even if you do under economic necessity, you may no longer sue.

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