Dental injuries are a common result of a motor vehicle accident. Hitting the steering wheel, headrest, dashboard, or windows upon impact or being struck by an object in the car can cause injuries to the mouth and teeth. Often, people view dental injuries as minor because they are usually not life threatening; however, dental injuries can be severe, permanent, and require immediate and long-term care. Similar to any other injury caused by the negligence of another person, dental injuries may also result in compensation for injuries, pain and suffering.
Types of Dental Injuries:
Broken teeth, loose teeth, lost teeth, crushed teeth, and injuries to gums, tongue and lips are types of dental injuries that may result from a car accident. Most of the time, dental injuries require immediate dental attention. A delay in receiving care can result in more damage.
Even low impact accidents can result in an injured party losing a tooth. Avulsion, or the loss of an entire tooth along with the full root due to traumatic impact, is the only true dental emergency that must be treated immediately. An avulsed tooth can be successfully saved if the tooth is replanted by a dentist within sixty minutes of the injury and root canal treatment is performed within 7-10 days after replantation. Be sure not to pick up an avulsed tooth up by its roots, but instead by the crown so as not to compromise the layer of cells on the outside of the root which must remain viable for replantation to be feasible. First attempt to place the tooth back in the socket, if possible. If not, do not place the tooth on ice or in milk but rather in a container of Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution (available in most drug stores) or even your own saliva. The reason for this is to mimic the tooth’s usual environment as much as possible during transportation. Failure to have the tooth replanted and splinted into place by a dentist within sixty minutes or to follow up with necessary root canal procedures within two weeks will almost definitely result in permanent loss of the tooth.
If your teeth are broken as the result of a motor vehicle accident, seek dental attention immediately. Root canals, extractions, implants, and/or crown and bridge work may be necessary to treat such dental injuries, and this treatment may have to be performed by a specialist.
Crushed teeth are far less common than the other dental injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident. Crushed teeth could require surgery and extraction depending on the severity. Tongue, lip, and gum injuries may also require surgery to correct. While permanent scarring will not occur to healed tissues within the mouth, it may be wise to seek treatment by a plastic surgeon for lacerations outside the oral cavity to ensure the least amount of permanent damage and scarring.
Unfortunately, many dental injuries will result in extraction of the tooth/teeth. Implants may be required to replace unsalvageable teeth. Failure to have an implant placed may lead to additional damage, such as tipping and loss of adjacent and opposing teeth. Aesthetically, you may wish to replace teeth as soon as possible. Additionally, failure to have implanted teeth may lead to bone loss and further damage. Damage resulting from failure to receive proper dental treatment may not be compensable. This may be problematic where No Fault Insurance refuses to cover certain procedures, as dental implants can be expensive.
If you experience a dental injury of any degree, seek dental attention as soon as you are able. It is important to not delay receiving treatment. Inform your dentist that you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident. This will allow the treating dentist to document the cause of your injury and to better understand your injury for diagnostic and treatment purposes.
As with any other type of injury, dental injury compensation will depend on how much treatment was required and how much damage was sustained. The teeth, mouth, and lips are valued as part of our appearance; missing or damaged teeth, especially the front teeth, and lip and facial scarring could lead to increased compensation.
If you experienced a dental injury, schedule a free case evaluation with our skilled attorneys at the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., (631) 343-7676.