Dental injuries are frequently sustained in car accidents. These injuries are mostly ignored, especially when car accident victims suffer more serious injuries. Dental injuries can, however, be the greatest source of pain and distress for victims of vehicle crashes. They often occur when the victim’s mouth strikes the steering wheel or in instances when an airbag’s force leads to broken or chipped teeth.
Things Car Accident Victims Should Know About Dental Injuries
Walking away from a car accident with severe dental injuries is a traumatic experience. Although the law is on the side of the accident victim, he or she must know how to pursue a personal injury claim. The following are some of the essential information victims need to be familiar with before filing a claim:
Seeking medical treatment immediately after an auto accident is crucial, particularly if the incident leads to visible mouth, teeth, or gum injuries. Due to the strong nature of human teeth, it’ll take a significant amount of impact to remove a tooth from a person’s mouth.
A huge impact on the mouth, head, or face often causes the accident victim to suffer tooth loss. Such a magnitude of an impact could also result in severe head and face injuries. Serious head injuries, like traumatic brain injury, aren’t often visible right away and in some cases come together with delayed symptoms. Seeing a medical practitioner immediately after a crash enables the practitioner to evaluate the victim’s condition and help him or her identify any hidden injuries.
The long-term impact of the dental injuries sustained by the victim will determine the value of his or her claim. While people tend to view dental issues as cosmetic, they can significantly affect a person’s life. An accident victim who loses multiple teeth is likely to suffer psychological distress because of his or her new appearance. This distress may, in turn, hurt his or her relationships and sometimes even his or her capability to engage in a substantial gainful activity.
If the victim needs dentures or any other dental aid after an accident, the inconvenience of wearing and taking care of the device would be another long-term impact. Some states, such as California, allow victims to pursue compensation for their pain and suffering. This form of compensation is commonly referred to as non-economic damages.
Natural vs. Artificial Teeth
Injury protection covers both natural and artificial teeth. Damage is damage when it comes to law. If a victim’s dental implants or dentures are damaged in an accident, the legal responsibility of covering the cost related to repairing or replacing the damaged dental aid would lie on the party liable for the accident.
If the victim also suffered injuries because of the damaged dental implants or dentures, like a cut, the liable party may also be legally responsible for the damages caused by the added injuries. Whether a victim has natural or artificial teeth, he or she should have a comprehensive dental examination performed to determine the extent of the damage he or she has suffered and the kind of treatment plan he or she would need moving forward. That way, he or she can accurately determine the value of his or her claim.
Types of Dental Injuries
Dental injuries are categorized as either direct or indirect depending on the impact involved in the motor vehicle crash. Direct dental injuries happen when an object strikes the mouth. Indirect dental injuries happen when an open mouth shuts abruptly, causing the teeth of the upper jaw to crash the lower ones. Direct and indirect dental injuries can also lead to various kinds of damages to the teeth, including:
Also known as tooth dislocation, this type of tooth injury refers to the loosening of a permanent tooth. Due to this loosening, a luxated tooth can move sideways, backward, and forward. A dentist usually treats this kind of injury by setting the luxated tooth back to its original position.
When a victim’s entire tooth comes out of its socket during a crash, it’s called an avulsed tooth. An avulsed tooth must be picked up by the roots and immediately kept in a container of whole milk or saline solution. The victim must then see a dentist immediately to increase the chances of the tooth survival, which is usually approximately 2 hours after the incident.
Serious vehicle crashes can result in severe dental fractures. Depending on the extent of the fracture, dental fractures can be grouped into:
- Ellis I Injuries: These are fractures to just the tooth’s enamel.
- Ellis II Injuries: These are fractures to both the enamel and dentin layers.
- Ellis III injuries: These are fractures that spread to the enamel, then to the dentin, and finally to the pulp layer.
Victims who suffer dental fractures after a crash should see a dentist immediately to have the damaged teeth fixed.