Common Dental Injuries in Car Accidents

A dentist examining dental x-rays

Injuries resulting from a car accident can range from the relatively minor to completely disabling. Among these, dental injuries can be some of the most serious.

While you may not realize it daily, your teeth and dental health have a major impact on your overall quality of life. When your teeth are damaged, broken, or knocked out during a car accident, you could suffer debilitating pain, an inability to properly eat or drink, and other major complications.

Treatment for the dental injuries you sustain in a car crash can cost you thousands of dollars, and you may be left unable to work to pay that bill off. A dedicated car accident lawyer with Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys can help you find the compensation you need to pay for your treatment and move on with your life.

What Causes Dental Injuries in Car Accidents?

During a traffic accident, multiple factors can contribute to injuries, including the speed of collision, flying debris, whether the passengers are wearing seatbelts or not, and others. Bicyclists and motorcyclists involved in accidents are more likely to endure major injuries, and especially dental injuries, because they’re less protected than motor vehicle passengers.

However, car passengers aren’t totally safe during a car crash. They could suffer dental trauma from any of the following hazards:

  • Steering wheel or dashboard
  • Seats and safety belts
  • Airbags
  • Broken glass
  • Unsecured cargo

Of course, the best way to avoid dental injuries during a car wreck is to avoid collisions altogether. While you can’t control others’ driving, you should make sure to always focus on the road, drive defensively, check your blind spots, and wear your seat belt.

Dental Injuries You Might Sustain in a Car Crash

A dentist's chair with dental implements in the foreground

Depending on the car accident and force of impact, a victim’s dental injuries can be either direct or indirect. Direct dental injuries are caused by the head or mouth striking an object, whereas indirect dental injuries are caused by a force to the lower jaw, forcing it to close and crush the teeth.

Either way, dental injuries can be extremely painful and costly to repair. Treatment for injuries vary based on the type of damage and the type of injury. The three main types of dental injuries caused by car crashes include avulsed teeth, tooth luxation, and fractured teeth.

Avulsed Tooth

A tooth is avulsed when it’s been completely knocked out of its socket. If your tooth has been knocked out, try to find it—and only pick it up by the crown, not the roots. Immediately put it in a plastic container with saline solution, whole milk, or saliva, and see a dentist as soon as possible. You’ll only have about 2 hours to return the tooth to its socket before it dies, and you’ll require a prosthesis.

Tooth Luxation

If your tooth was loosened, but not completely avulsed in an accident, you’ve experienced a tooth luxation. Luxation causes the affected tooth to move around in its socket, which can be painful and dangerous.

Usually, pushing the tooth back to its original position serves as treatment for a luxated tooth, but you should see a dentist to ensure the damage is limited to the luxation.

Fractured Teeth

Car crashes and other traffic accidents often cause acute dental trauma. Dental fractures are serious complications that require treatment. Doctors break dental fracture injuries into three main categories:

  • Ellis I injuries are crown fractures that only extend through the tooth’s enamel. The affected teeth may have rough edges, but are not tender or discolored.
  • Ellis II injuries have fractured the enamel and the lower dentin layer. These injuries leave teeth tender to the touch and upon exposure to the air. Dentin may also be visible to the dentist examining you.
  • Ellis III injuries are fractures involving the enamel, dentin, and pulp of the tooth. Though these injuries present with similar tooth sensitivity as Ellis II, a visible region of red, pink, or blood will also be visible in the center of the tooth.

Tooth Symptoms to Watch Out For

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you should call 911 as soon as you’re safe. The medical team that arrives should help treat your injuries and discover dental trauma that needs to be treated.

Even the most dedicated of first responders are human, however. Be on the lookout for the following dental symptoms after your accident, as they could be indicators of a major issue.

Dental Pain

A woman holding her cheek, expressing tooth pain

In nearly every dental injury, the patient will feel pain, either in the gums, jaw, teeth, or even as headaches. There are multiple types of toothache, all with their own characteristics and symptoms. While a general practitioner can advise you on what a persistent headache could signify, you should see a dentist if you have tooth or other mouth pain.

Tooth Damage

Tooth damage, such as the types listed above, is a common injury in car accidents. If your teeth are chipped, fractured, or broken, that could also be a sign of a more serious problem. At the very least, you’ll probably need expensive dental work.

Loose Teeth or Lost Teeth

Especially if your mouth crashed into something solid, like the dashboard or steering wheel, during your accident, you could experience loose or missing teeth. You could require a tooth splinting procedure, false teeth or implants, or dental bridges to correct these issues.

Impaired Jaw Function

Jaw impairments are fairly common after car crashes, especially in those who also suffer traumatic head injuries. A particularly common form of impaired jaw is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), which can cause jaw pain, difficulty chewing, or a clicking sound.

Earache and vertigo can also be common symptoms of dental trauma, since a jaw injury can affect parts of the inner ear as well. These injuries can be painful to suffer and complex to diagnose and treat.

Get Compensation for Your Dental Injuries

Gordon McKernan

Even though dental injuries are fairly common car accident injuries, they can tend to be overlooked initially due to the other injuries victims have suffered, property damage, and other concerns. However, you should not delay getting treatment for a damaged tooth! Damaged teeth can harbor bacteria, deteriorate, and lead to much more serious issues if left untreated.

What’s more, failing to seek immediate treatment can affect your personal injury claim’s credibility in court by making your injuries seem less severe. Don’t delay on seeing a doctor and a dentist as soon as you can after your injury, and then call Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys at 888.501.7888.

When you call the experienced car wreck lawyers with Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys, you’ll receive a free consultation about what’s happened to you and possible next steps. A dedicated personal injury attorney will work with you on your case to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.