By Marcus Fernandez
When you think of the injuries suffered by drivers and passengers involved in a car accident, a dental injury may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, fractured bones, lacerations, and concussions are the types of injuries people normally associate with car accidents, but the pain and distress of a dental injury can be equally as significant.
When emergency medical personnel arrive at the scene of a car crash and find a driver or passenger whose head struck a steering wheel or other hard surface, the head injury becomes the primary focus with treatment of injuries to the teeth or gums being delayed. In some instances, dental injuries may go undetected.
If you believe you have a dental injury from a car accident, get an examination and treatment as soon as possible. You may be entitled to recover damages from the motorist whose careless or reckless behavior caused the accident, so contact a Tampa personal injury attorney right away.
Car crashes and injuries
When a car crashes into another vehicle or hits a stationary object, the force of the collision causes its occupants to be tossed around and come in contact with the steering wheel, glass and other hard surfaces. The high-rate of injuries in vehicle crashes is evident in Florida where the 388,215 motor vehicle crashes in 2022 resulted in 247,303 injuries. Hillsborough County had 28,290 accidents, which resulted in more than 19,000 injuries.
You could suffer a dental injury in a car crash without making contact with any of the interior surfaces. Airbags, the devices that manufacturers install in cars to protect you from injury in a crash, may cause mouth injuries when they inflate in a collision. The force, which is powerful enough to fracture bones in the nose and face, can crack and loosen teeth as well as cause other forms of dental injury.
Common types of dental injuries in a car accident
In a car accident, your face could strike against a hard surface or deployed airbag. Your face could even strike against your own arm as it moves uncontrollably from the force of the collision. Some of the common dental injuries to be aware of include:
- Loosened teeth. Teeth may become dislocated, which you may hear your dentist refer to as “luxated.” The loosened tooth may move from side to side or backward and forward. Early treatment can reset the tooth into position and possibly save of the tooth.
- Dislodged or missing teeth. A dentist may be able to save an avulsed tooth, a tooth that has been completely dislodged from its socket. If that happens to you, find the tooth. The tooth should be placed back into the mouth, if possible. You can also place it in saline solution, water or milk until you get to the dentist. The chance of the tooth surviving after a dentist puts it back in place increases by getting dental care quickly.
- Chipped and cracked teeth. Dental fractures range from damage to the surface enamel of a tooth to deeper cracks. These deeper cracks can affect the nerve and gums. As with other types of dental injuries, it is essential that you get proper dental care immediately. This gives you the best chance of minimizing the long-term damage.
It’s important to note that a dental injury is not limited to your natural teeth. Implants, dentures, and veneers can also be damaged in a crash.
Compensation recoverable for a dental injury
If you go to the emergency department, do not hesitate to tell the medical staff about any dental pain. This will ensure that a dental injury does not get overlooked. As doctors may be focused on other physical injuries sustained in the crash.
The treatment cost should be covered through the personal injury protection (PIP) of the auto insurance covering your car. This is regardless of who was at fault. However, with serious injuries, you may also make a claim for compensation. This claim would be against the motorist who was at fault in causing the crash.
Get help from an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney
It takes an experienced personal injury attorney to get you the compensation you deserve. The insurance company and defense lawyers will try to minimize the severity of a dental injury. However, the personal injury attorneys at KFB Law will fight to get you fair compensation for your dental injuries.