Thoughts on Dental Accidents

Bruce Burk

Tampa, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – This article discusses everyone’s favorite topic: the dentist. Most of the time when we go to the dentist, it is for checkups or routine cleaning. However, some injured workers need dental treatment following a traumatic accident. There are several relevant issues in accidents involving injuries to the teeth.

Accidents to the teeth are less common in workers’ compensation; but when they happen, they can be a handful to deal with. Dental accidents can happen as the result of trauma to the head or mouth area. Accordingly, the claimant may also be getting treatment for a concussion, eye injuries, or other facial injuries.

The biggest issue in any workers’ compensation accident is identifying the injured body part. In a dental accident, this involves identifying the specific teeth that were injured in the industrial accident. Obviously, adjusters don’t want to pay for dental work that was not related to the employment.

Understanding what teeth were injured in the industrial accident involves understanding the names and locations of the teeth. Below is an image which depicts the same.

In accidents involving major trauma to the face or mouth area, several clusters of teeth can be knocked out or damaged to the point of needing to be removed. The front teeth, including the incisors and canines are the most likely to be damaged given their front location. However, if workers were injured from the side of the face, the molars could be damaged.

It is important to clarify with the authorized dentist or orthodontist which teeth are associated with the occupational injury and which are not. Some experts say that most adults could use at least some dental work done, so it is important that the employer/carrier not have to pay for cavities or other conditions caused by the claimant’s poor dental hygiene.

There are various types of dental injuries. The claimant could have a fractured root. This can be caused by trauma or situations where the tooth is bent or stretched. These issues can also only be identified by X-ray or close examination by a professional. These injuries can lead to infection as well as tooth loss.

The claimant could also have cracked teeth, which are not always visible and may take close examination by a trained professional to identify. If the crack rises to the level of a cuspal fracture, it may require the tooth to be extracted or to undergo a root canal.

Of course, there could be injuries where the teeth are completely knocked out and artificial teeth may be inserted. The claimant could also suffer a tooth intrusion; where teeth are pushed down into the gum area. This can cause damage to the root of the tooth, which could require removal.

Most dental injuries will not have overly severe work restrictions, as many claimants will be capable of returning to work once a majority of the dental work is finished. However, the claimant may still be entitled to an impairment rating for the damage to their mouth. It is important to find the claimant’s prior dental records to see if the claimant had any prior injuries to the relevant teeth.

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