What are my rights if a dentist used “old” tools to initiate a crown procedure but a drill bit broke inside my tooth and now the tooth must be extracted?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights if a dentist used “old” tools to initiate a crown procedure but a drill bit broke inside my tooth and now the tooth must be extracted?

The doctor referred to to oral surgeon to be able to remove the broken tip surgically. She was unable to continue. The dentist who did my cleaning this time around, said the the tooth would have to be extracted because it was not restorable. Do I have a case?

Asked on September 12, 2015 under Malpractice Law, New Mexico


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It depends on whether the tools were so old that it was negligent, or unreasonably careless, to use them, or if not, if the dentist otherwise was careless in some way in how she did the procedure that resulted in the drill bit breaking. If the dentist was careless, in either how the procedure was done or in using such "old" tools, then the dentist may have committed malpractice and may be liable for your medical costs resulting from the drill breaking e.g. oral surgery, removal, tooth extraction, putting in an implant or other replacement, etc. and possibly, if the condition has caused you significant life impairmant for weeks, months, or longer, some amount of "pain and suffering."
On the other hand, if the dentist didn't do anything wrong--the tools were in good shape the procedure was done correctly--and it's just that once in awhile, a drill breaks, she would not be liable medical professionals are only liable if they are at fault in some way.

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