LeAnn Rimes Sues Dentist for Malpractice

Posted February 22, 2013 in Medical Malpractice by

LeAnn Rimes headshot

Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP

After nine root canals, a tooth extraction, bone grafting and a variety of other dental unpleasantries, it’s understandable that country singer LeAnn Rimes is complaining of pain and suffering. But she also says it’s all due to the shoddy work of Los Angeles dentist Dr. Duane C. McKay, whom she’s suing for damages that include lost income due to her inability to perform.

According to the suit, McKay told Rimes that restoring her smile with eight upper front veneers would not only improve her appearance, it would also correct her chronic jaw pain. After the procedure, Rimes found the “veneers were not fabricated to her satisfaction due to poor shape, size and color,” so McKay removed them and replaced them with permanent crowns.

Plan B yielded even less satisfactory results, such as “severe tooth pain, gum inflammation and chronic gum bleeding.” The suit alleges that Rimes’ teeth were over-prepared and her crowns were placed too far below the gum line, mistakes that would lead to “significant bone loss” and the potential for a “permanent cosmetic deficiency.”

The ordeal already sounds like a wince-inducing country song, but it gets worse. The faulty crowns aggravated Rimes’ chronic jaw pain, for which she’s still undergoing physical therapy. And the pain meds the dentist prescribed made her throw up. It’s not known if her truck broke down and her dog ran away.


Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke

The suit doesn’t indicate whether McKay suggested alternate treatments for Rimes’ chronic jaw pain, but dental malpractice attorney Dr. Edwin J. Zinman said that dental veneers shouldn’t have been among the initial treatments considered for her diagnosis.

Attorney Dr.  Edwin J. Zinman headshot

Dr. Edwin J. Zinman

“Treatment usually starts off with a splint, which is just a mouth guard you wear while you sleep,” Zinman said. “Dentists are taught to try the least invasive and most conservative treatment first.”

Zinman said that many dental malpractice cases involve excessive treatment. In a case settled in arbitration last year, his client won more than $600,000 in damages and court costs after suing the dentist who put crowns or veneers on 22 of her teeth. The extensive procedure was poorly performed, resulting in pain, swelling, bleeding and further dental care.

Because less scrupulous dentists may try to oversell their pricey elective procedures, it’s important for patients to do their homework before and after a dental consultation. Be wary of care plans that seem excessive and be prepared to ask about less invasive alternatives to proposed treatments.

In addition to guarding against overtreatment, Zinman said that patients can often avoid substandard cosmetic treatments by seeking out a prosthodontist rather than a general dentist.

“Most patients don’t realize that cosmetic dentistry is not a specialty,” Zinman said. “All dentists are taught to provide cosmetic restoration, but the best and most qualified is a prosthodontist, who has an additional three years of training.”

Patients who do receive substandard dental care should consult a malpractice attorney as soon as possible if they want to reserve the option to file a lawsuit. Each state has its own statute of limitations on malpractice suits, and some require patients to officially inform their doctors of their intent to sue as far as 90 days in advance. Patients should also keep records or copies of all correspondence with their dentists about dissatisfaction with their treatments.

Have you ever filed a lawsuit for dental malpractice? Has a dentist ever tried to talk you into extensive cosmetic treatments? Let us know in the comments section below.

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