What Should You Do if You Suffer a Dental Injury at Work?
When you hear that someone suffered a workplace accident, you probably think of a back sprain, shoulder injury, or meniscus tear in the knee. But some workplace accidents cause injuries to the teeth, mouth, and jaws. When you suffer a dental injury you need immediate medical attention.
A workers compensation claim for a dental injury is similar to any other type of claim for workers comp benefits in Virginia. But because dental care is so expensive, you’ll likely need a workplace accident lawyer to help you recover everything you’re owed from the employer and its insurance company. Insurers often pay close attention to workers comp claims involving dental injuries because dentists may try to treat the whole mouth as opposed to the specific injury.
The Workers Compensation Commission has held that dental treatment such as the replacement of damaged teeth and the repair of a partial plate is covered under an award of lifetime medical benefits for work-related injuries. McKeaver v. Southern Oil & Feed Mills, Inc., 7 O.I.C. 659 (1925); Driscoll v. Caudle-Hyatt, 52 O.I.C. 83 (1970). Dental problems caused by medication prescribed for other work-related injuries are also covered under Virginia workers comp as a compensable consequence of the industrial accident. Martin v. Still Water, Inc., VWC File No. 152-51-72 (May 17, 2007).
After a work accident you should seek medical attention. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be taken to a local hospital. Many hospitals do not have the equipment and staff to handle work-related dental injuries and may tell you to see a dentist as soon as possible.
If you hurt your teeth, mouth, or jaws and the hospital tells you to wait to receive treatment, make sure that it’s documented in your file that you suffered a dental injury at work. Employers and insurance companies may deny coverage and force you to prove your case at a workers compensation hearing if the initial medical records fail to mention a dental injury.
Many of you will experience dental problems right after your work accident. But sometimes it takes days, weeks, or months for your dental injuries to show up.
Common dental injuries include:
- Chipped or broken teeth. Small tooth chips can cause pain and lead to tooth decay. They are often treated with filling, though crowns or veneers are a possibility if the tooth has significant damage. Large chips can exposure the nerve. In these situations you’ll need a root canal to save the tooth.
- Loose teeth. If your tooth is loose after a work accident it could mean that the root has broken. A dentist or oral surgeon can help you determine whether a root canal can save the tooth or whether it will have to be removed. Your tooth may also be bonded to another tooth to help strengthen it. In some cases you may need braces.
- Knocked-out teeth
- Dislodged teeth
- Tooth intrusion
- Temporo Mandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder and symptoms. Insurance companies fear a TMJ diagnosis after a work-related accident. TMJ can be caused by direct trauma to the jaw or post-traumatic stress that causes grinding of the teeth and jaw, especially in your sleep. Though TMJ symptoms will sometimes go away on their own, you may need an occlusal guard appliance, physical therapy, or professional massage to help your jaw. Sometimes an injured employee may need injections or even complete joint replacement to treat their TMJ.
- Broken Jaw
Common dental procedures required after workplace injuries include:
- Gum Surgery
- Tooth implants
- Root Canals
We’ve helped injured employees obtain each of these types of treatment through workers compensation in Virginia.
Because injuries to your teeth and jaw can cause disfigurement or be unsightly, a workplace dental injury can cause mental health problems. It’s common for a person who has suffered a dental injury to also suffer from depression, at least during the period it takes for the dental issue to be resolved. It’s also common for a person who has suffered a tooth injury to miss a lot of time from work because of pain and medication side effects.
We’ve helped many injured workers obtain wage loss benefits and workers compensation settlements for their dental injuries, with many of these settlements approaching six figures because of the cost of treatment for the teeth, gums, or jaw with a dentist or oral surgeon.
We recommend contacting a lawyer soon after your industrial accident so that you can file a workers comp claim and find a skilled dentist. Your regular dentist may not treat workers compensation patients. And an experienced attorney can help you pick the best dentist, oral maxillofacial surgeon, periodontist, or endodontist for your workplace injuries from the panel of physicians offered.
Have a question? We’re here to help. Call, text, or email Corey Pollard, voted one of the best workers compensation lawyers in Virginia, if you suffered a work-related injury to your teeth, mouth or jaw.