In the Dental Chair
Dental trauma is an oft-overlooked consequence of many motor vehicle accidents. Tending to bodily injuries will take precedence when EMTs or first responders arrive on-scene, especially when orofacial injuries aren’t made apparent by the presence of swelling, bleeding, or bruising.
Following a significant motor vehicle accident, it is imperative that involved parties visit a dentist as soon as possible so that he or she can check for signs of a traumatic dental injury. It is common for accident victims to experience little-to-no discomfort immediately following an accident, thanks to the heaping dose of adrenaline human bodies naturally supply in the wake of physical trauma.
However, once that adrenaline wears off, patients may begin to notice pain, swelling, tenderness, sensitivity, or bleeding. These could be signs of a more significant underlying dental injury requiring immediate attention. Car accident victims commonly report cracked enamel, crown fractures, impactions, loose or chipped teeth, and more longstanding orofacial injuries like TMJ issues.
In order to properly diagnose the root cause (no pun intended) of your discomfort and provide an effective treatment plan, a dentist will need to know how and when you sustained your injuries, and how post-traumatic symptoms have impacted your daily routine. Your dentist will perform an oral examination and may order a series of imaging tests to determine the best path forward.
During your visit, make an effort to provide as much detail as possible regarding your injuries. Be sure to indicate whether you are experiencing any of the following:
- Altered occlusion
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Limited jaw movement
- Noises in temporomandibular joints
- Numbness of the lips or chin
- Pain when opening or closing mouth
Any of the above symptoms could be a sign that immediate intervention is needed. Therapies such as splinting, replanting, or repositioning avulsed teeth may have better success rates when performed soon after trauma occurs. On the other hand, if an injury occurs during the course of orthodontic treatment, movement should be suspended for at least three months. Your dentist will be able to determine the optimal timeline for your unique situation.
The important thing is for car accident victims to schedule a consultation with their dentist as soon as possible. Delaying treatment can have dire consequences for a person’s dental health. If one or more teeth have been injured or damaged as a result of a car accident, the best opportunity to save them will be soon after trauma occurs—before the area fully heals.
In the Court of Law
Just as consulting a licensed dentist is recommended following a traumatic accident, it is also advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney who routinely represents car accident victims. A trusted lawyer can produce better outcomes for clients seeking just compensation for their injuries—but only if victims act in a timely manner. As with treating dental injuries, delaying legal action can have unintended consequences when it comes to the strength of your case.
For accident victims seeking legal representation, your attorney will want to collect copies of both your medical and dental records pertaining to any consultations, treatments, or testing done after the accident occurred. Contact your dental and healthcare providers to request copies of billing invoices, imaging tests, prescription information, treatment plans, and x-rays. These items may be useful in the event the accident victim intends to seek financial restitution for his or her injuries.
If you were injured in a car accident and suffered subsequent dental health issues or orofacial injuries, consider contacting an experienced, local attorney. Reputable legal firms will often provide free initial consultations. These provide accident victims with a risk-free opportunity to explore their legal options. Come prepared to these meetings with relevant details about your accident, plus any of the documents mentioned above. You should walk away from your consultation feeling more informed and assured of your decisions.
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