Wednesday, August 29, 2012

11 years in braces? Hopefully never in our office, but who's to blame when it happens?

There are numerous reasons someone can get stuck in braces longer than the average 1-3 years, but most of the time, it's not the orthodontist's fault. In a recent article I saw on Yahoo, someone is suing their orthodontist after spending 11 years in braces.

This person is suing for $185,000 to make up for the pain and suffering of prolonged treatment and the cost of corrective dental work to repair his damaged and decayed teeth.   In all, he had to spend $35,000 on crowns, implants, and other dental work to repair his teeth once the braces came off.  He feels $150,000 is due to him for the pain and suffering of 11 years in braces. 

Just to be clear, I don't know the specifics of this case or the orthodontist being sued. I do want to make the point however, that braces do not damage and decay teeth. If you don't care for your teeth while in braces, whether it be for a few months, a few years, or 11 years, the teeth can decay and get damaged--sometimes beyond repair. Brushing your teeth is a personal responsibility. You can't blame someone else because you didn't make the effort to do it well.

I'm sure there's more to this case that what we know publicly and there has to be blame on both sides, but for an individual to sue for this much money,when there is clearly an issue with personal responsibility is sad. Braces don't do the harm, the build-up of plaque from poor brushing and flossing by the INDIVIDUAL causes the damage.

At Barnett Orthodontics, we always take the time to educate our patients on proper home hygiene before and during treatment. If the brushing is poor, we sometimes need to discontinue treatment altogether. It's imperative to keep regular appointments so the treatment can be monitored and the brushing can be checked. Communication between the doctor, patient and parent is crucial regarding all facets of care.