Dental Injuries

In 2009 there were 10.8 million automobile accidents of which some of these people suffered injury and death. As these numbers continue to change and with an increasing number of drivers entering the roadways, traffic congestion is creating an increasing danger to roadways.

With this danger comes more accidents, and of these accidents the injuries involved are typically correlated with the force of the impact.

The most common type of injury associated with automobile accidents is dental injuries.  These injuries are typically caused by a person’s mouth striking the steering wheel.  These injuries may include tooth injury, jaw injury, gum injury or other physical damage to the mouth. When a dental injury caused by the negligent driving of another person occurs, one should seek an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney to help with your case.

Common Types of Dental Injuries

Dental injuries are often divided into two categories; direct and indirect dental injuries.  It is also common for dental injuries to be a result of auto accidents. These injuries are often a result of the head or mouth striking an inanimate object such as the steering wheel.  Direct and indirect dental injuries can be defined as the following:

  • Direct Damage – Caused when the mouth or head is struck by an object such as a steering wheel.
  • Indirect Damage - Caused when an open mouth is closed abruptly, forcing the upper teeth to crush the lower jaws teeth.

Accidents that take place on the highway are typically more severe injuries due to higher speed of travel increasing the force of impact.  Although medical treatment varies depending on the extent of the injury, it is advised that dental injuries are cared for by a dentist or oral surgeon.  The most common types of dental injuries caused by automobile accidents are as follows:

Fractured Teeth

There are four different classifications for these types of fractures that can be differentiated by the number of layers involved. These fractures are divided into Ellis I, Ellis II, and Ellis III.

  • Ellis I – These injuries occur when a fracture in the crown extends through the tooth enamel.  The victim’s teeth may have rough edges with no color change or tenderness.
  • Ellis II – These injuries occur when there is a fracture in both the dentin layer and the tooth enamel.  The victim’s teeth will be tender upon air exposure and touch.  Typically there is a visible yellow tint on the dentin seen on examination.
  • Ellis III – These injuries occur when the fractures extend to the enamel, dentin, and pulp layers.  The victims teeth will appear pink, red, and may even have blood on the center of the tooth. The teeth will be tender upon air exposure and touch.

Tooth Luxation

A tooth that is loosened during an accident, but is not completely knocked out is known as a tooth luxation.  In most cases the damaged tooth either moves backwards, forwards, or sideways. This is typically treated by pushing the tooth back into the socket. It is advised to visit a dentist to ensure no further damage has been done.

Avulsed Tooth

A tooth that is completely knocked out of the socket is known as an avulsed tooth.  These victims should pick the tooth up by the crown and not the root and immediately place it in a plastic container filled with a saline solution, saliva or milk.  Typically the tooth must seek medical care within two hours after the accident or may risk losing the tooth.