Dental malpractice isn't something you hear a lot about. Malpractice from regular doctors and surgeons gets a lot of attention, but there are many dental malpractice cases as well. When it comes to proving your dentist is guilty of malpractice, the burden of proof lies with you, the plaintiff. Here are three things that can hurt your dental malpractice case.

1. The damage, or injury, in question existed before the dentist treated you.

Pre-existing conditions and injuries don't necessarily exempt the dentist from a malpractice lawsuit. As an example, if your jaw is broken during a particularly difficult procedure and it is found that prior damage to the jaw made it more susceptible to be broken, the dentist can still be found guilty of malpractice because he or she still caused the broken jaw during the procedure.

However, if you have had issues with your jaw being broken during even the most routine dental procedures in the past and you fail to tell your dentist about that, you could lose your dental malpractice case. It just depends on other factors at play when you got the broken jaw during dental treatment.

2. You failed to follow the dentist's instructions for care after a procedure.

A lot of dental procedures require the patient to do, or refrain from doing, certain things in order to heal properly. For instance, when you have a tooth extracted, in order for it to heal, a blood clot must form over the area where the tooth was removed. Without the clot forming a protective barrier, you could end up with dry socket or a bad infection. One of the things that dentists tell their patients is that they can't drink from a straw for at least 48 hours. If you do so, the suction can cause the clot over the extraction site to dislodge.

If you fail to follow the dentist's instructions and end up with dry socket or complications from an infection at the wound site, then you have no basis for a dental malpractice lawsuit. After all, the fault would lie with you since you didn't follow the instructions for after care that the dentist gave you. You'll want to get more information from an insurer, like HMBD Insurance Services, to make sure that you properly document medical work and how you've followed the dentist's instructions. 

3. You didn't file your lawsuit in a timely manner.

Like with regular medical malpractice, dental malpractice has a statute of limitations. The amount of time you have in order to file a dental malpractice claim varies depending on the state the treatment was received in.

For instance, in the state of Tennessee, patients have to file a malpractice claim against their dentist within one year of finding out about the injury or problem. The maximum amount of time allowed to file a dental malpractice lawsuit is three years after the treatment was received, no matter when the problem was discovered. But in some states, like New York, you have less time (two and a half years). And it's important to note that this statute of limitations goes into effect the day you receive the injury, not the day you find out out something might be wrong. So, failing to file your lawsuit in a timely manner will make your claim void.