Negligent performance of cosmetic dental work

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Case in Point

June 19, 2012

Negligent performance of cosmetic dental work 

The plaintiffs alleged that the dentist performed the procedure too quickly; removed too much gum tissue; and over-diagnosed the need for full-mouth veneers, crowns, and a bridge. Valdez v. Worth.

Ingrid Valdez, 40, consulted dentist Sherri Worth regarding a cosmetic procedure to fix a “gummy” smile and chipped composite filling. Worth allegedly advised Valdez that she required restoration of her lower teeth to achieve the desired result.

In two hours and forty minutes, Worth performed laser surgery to recontour Valdez’s gums and drilled 20 teeth for veneers and crowns and two teeth for a three-unit fixed bridge. Afterward, Valdez developed swelling and chronic pain in her gums. She also required crown lengthening surgery, eight root canals, and removal of 20 restorations to correct over-contoured crowns. Her medical expenses were $60,000.

Valdez and her husband sued Worth, alleging that she performed the procedure too quickly; removed too much gum tissue; and over-diagnosed the need for full mouth veneers, crowns, and a bridge.

The defendant countered that Valdez’s inflamed gums resulted from inadequate oral hygiene.

An arbitrator awarded about $641,500, including costs and prejudgment interest.

Citation: Valdez v. Worth, No. 30-2010-00348533 (Cal., Orange Co. Super. Feb. 14, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Edward J. Zinman, San Francisco.

Plaintiff experts: David Eggleston and R. Bruce Coye, prosthodontics, both of Newport Beach, Calif.

Defense experts: Edmond R. Hewlett, prosthodontics, and George Bogen, endodontics, both of Los Angeles.


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