Cosmetic Dentistry Standard of Care


Cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized specialty area of dentistry. In fact, much of dental academia looks down on the field of cosmetic dentistry and may even view cosmetic dentistry as a diminution of the standards of dentistry. But those who are serious students of esthetic dental treatment know that cosmetic dentistry is very demanding when correctly performed. It takes the standards of good, functional dentistry and adds additional demands of appearance.

However, because of the status of cosmetic dentistry within the profession, the standards applied are the standards of general dentistry.

Elements of the standard of care for cosmetic dentistry

The basic rule for the standard of care for cosmetic dentistry is that it needs to meet the level of care of what an average, reasonable, prudent general dentist would provide.

As such, the mere fact that a patient does not like how the dentistry looks would not be sufficient grounds to deem the treatment malpractice.

There could be instances where the dentist raised the expectations of the patient beyond what he or she could deliver. When this occurs, experience shows that the dentist will be increasing the chances that a patient will become dissatisfied to the point of legal action. "Our experience has shown that failure to meet a patient's expectations can be a significant factor in a patient's decision to file a claim alleging professional liability." (Risk Management Seminar Manual by CNA Health Pro, June, 2009, p. 32)

Common instances of cosmetic dentistry malpractice:

Indications of possible sub-standard care:

  • Dental work that contributes to other problems in the mouth, such as gum disease, infection, TMJ disorders and malocclusion.
  • In some cases, the appearance of dental work has caused severe embarrassment and humiliation. There is one instance where a mother objected to the installation of Lumineers on her daughter because they looked bulky and fake. The dentist installed them anyway, and the daughter was subsequently the subject of teasing and humiliation at school.
  • Dental work, such as porcelain veneers, that are overly large, making normal speech difficult.
  • There is an example of porcelain veneers that were installed and excess adhesive resin cement was not removed but was allowed to harden under the tissue. Hardened resin cement was discovered going down to the bone. Repair required extensive and costly periodontal surgery and re-doing the veneers. And even then, the final result was compromised.
  • If cosmetic dental work such as porcelain crowns invade the biologic width, meaning they encroach on the periodontal attachment of the tooth to the gum, they will cause periodontal damage. Repair of the damage will involve periodontal crown lengthening surgery and again may lead to a final compromised result.






Phoenix Dentist Dr. Arthur Chal

Contact Information:

Dr. Arthur Chal
4715 N. 32nd St. Suite 106
Phoenix, AZ 85018

Telephone: (602) 957-5000

Fax: 602-957-0055

Office Hours:

Monday - Thursday 8 am -5 pm
Mountain Standard Time

(Note: Arizona is always on Standard Time. It does not observe Daylight Savings Time.)




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