Anyone who has ever had orthodontic braces can recall the wonderful feeling of having them removed, typically after a couple of years of wear. A 22-year-old Oregon man, however, allegedly had to wait much longer.
According to a personal injury lawsuit filed on the man's behalf, he was kept in braces from the ages of 7 to 18. After 11 years of braces, he alleges, his teeth were far from perfect; they were rotten. Since having his braces removed, he has incurred $35,000 in dental bills. The damage was so extensive that he even had to travel to Boston to see one of the nation's most renowned dentists.
Many of the man's teeth will have to be pulled and replaced with prosthetics. In some areas of his mouth, however, this will be impossible due to the extent of the decay, according to his attorney. Eleven years, dental experts say, is a dangerously long time for a patient to wear braces. It is not something that is usually done.
The orthodontist has declined to comment in detail, but he has stated that he could not have treated the plaintiff until 2002, the year he became a licensed orthodontist. He also issued a generic statement in which he cited his office's high standards and conscientious treatment practices.
A spokesperson for the American Association of Orthodontists Insurance Company has called the allegations extremely one-sided. Attorneys from both sides are still trying to sort out all of the details. One lingering question is how a child could have been permitted to wear braces through most of elementary school and all of middle school and high school. Considering the fact that the plaintiff's mother is a medical doctor, this seems even more unusual.
In addition to the $35,000 in medical bills, the plaintiff is seeking $150,000 for pain and suffering.
Source: Oregon Live, "Rotten teeth, after 11 years in braces, lead Oregon man to sue for $185,100," Aimee Green, Aug. 27, 2012