I needed to have a dental implant done to replace one of my missing teeth. The dentist examined the bone density at the site and said it was fine. Well, after the dental implant surgery he found out that the bone didn’t look like he expected, but he moved forward with surgery anyway and placed the post. Now, he’s concerned that the bone won’t hold the dental implant.
So he is recommending that I get the dental implant removed and replace it with a dental bridge. I am so frustrated that I am in this position! First, I don’t want a bridge. Second, why did he move forward with a surgery if the bone density wasn’t sufficient. It feels like the surgery was entirely unnecessary. Now what am I supposed to do? Do you think I can get a refund on the implant surgery? He placed an implant he didn’t think would work for a cost of nearly $3,000 and now I’m supposed to go through another surgery and let him do another treatment. This doesn’t feel right.
-Paul in Washington
Wow this is a terrible situation and frankly it is shocking that the dentist thinks he can get away with something like this. You may have some legal recourse for a situation like this.
In response to your first question regarding a refund, the answer is yes. Since the dental implant cannot be used to support a porcelain crown restoration on the implant post, whatever you paid for the dental implant surgery should be refunded to you. Honestly, what is the point of the dental implant if it cannot be used – right? He knowingly placed it anyway. Legally speaking, the product will not serve the purpose for which it was sold. You were told that the bone was fine and you trusted him to provide a dental implant with a replacement tooth. That is not going to happen. So, since the implant cannot support the tooth, he should absolutely be on the hook for a refund.
Next, there are real issues with the ethics of this situation. Hearing about things like this makes reputable implant dentists angry. It gives everyone a bad name and undermines the integrity of expert implant dentists. Based on the information you’ve provided, it sounds like your dentist didn’t get proper diagnostics on the true density of your bone. An x-ray should have revealed the integrity of the bone density at the implant site before any surgery was done. A comprehensive exam and x-rays should always be the first step before moving forward with the dental implant process. Then, it sounds like during surgery he knew the bone density was inadequate, but he did it anyway. That is wrong. It sounds like malpractice because it does not align with the standard of care. If this all holds true, you are due for more than a refund. You endured a surgery that wasn’t needed, likely have suffered inconveniences, trauma and he put you at risk when he knew that the implant post would not support a restoration. It sure sounds like you have a solid case against this dentist.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that there are other options than a dental bridge. It is possible to have bone grafting done to build the bone back up at the implant site. Then, a dental implant could be successfully placed. You don’t have to settle for a bridge because that is what this dentist is telling you to do.
So, now what?
First, you should absolutely demand a refund. If for some reason he gives you any problem with that, you can move on to a different implant dentist for the bone grafting work to be done. Then, ask the new dentist to help you with the refund. You also should feel confident that you will have the support of the dental board for a case like this one. So, don’t hesitate to report your case. Also, you can enlist help from your insurance company if you used one. Or it may be in your best interest to find a lawyer. We can’t offer legal advice. But it sure sounds like you have a case here.
For now, it sounds like it’s time to move on. Find a new dentist to help you with the bone grafting and the placement of a new dental implant. Then, you should request that the original dentist cover the entire bill.
Even though this seems overwhelming and maddening, at least he didn’t take it a step further and place a dental implant crown on a substandard post. There are all kinds of dental implant horror stories out there. Sadly, things like this happen more than you think. So, moving forward, research the next implant dentist’s credentials, ask to see examples of cases similar to yours and find an implant dentist you can trust.
Thank you for sharing your story. Again, I’m sorry you are having to deal with this mess.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Rick Lane, DDS.