The legal definition of dental malpractice varies from state to state. Dental malpractice is a form of malpractice dealing with injuries that occur during a visit to the dentist. Generally speaking, in order for someone to have a viable dental malpractice claim, the dental provider must have committed an act that no other reasonable prudent oral healthcare provider would have committed during the same time period, and that act must have caused significant injury.
While malpractice suits do not necessarily claim that the dentist intentionally harmed the patient, in some cases a dentist or dental professional can be found guilty of intentionally injuring or committing improper conduct (molesting a patient while he/she is under sedation) against a patient.
Dentists and oral surgeons are considered health care professionals and must provide a certain standard of care when providing dental services to a patient. Just like medical doctors, dentists and oral surgeons have a duty to uphold that standard of care in his/her specialty. A breach of this duty, resulting in injury to a patient can result in what is generally referred to as dental malpractice or dental negligence.