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Tooth Injuries: Nothing to Smile About

Among the most common injuries sustained in car crashes are injuries to teeth. While some of these are minor chips, others are serious injuries involving cracked, broken or knocked-out teeth.

Serious Injuries

A knocked-out tooth (an avulsion) is a serious injury that requires immediate attention. The first thing to do is to save the tooth for possible reimplantation. Take it to your dentist as soon as you can; the longer you wait, the less likely it is that reimplantation will be successful.

If you do sustain an avulsed tooth, use care in transporting the tooth to your dentist. Don't handle the roots of the tooth (do not attempt to clean the tooth or roots); pick up the tooth by the crown portion. If you can, put the tooth in a container, covering the tooth with whole milk or saliva.

A cracked or fractured tooth should also be considered a serious injury requiring professional care. If the fracture reaches the pulp (the center of the tooth), rinse your mouth with warm water and get to a dentist as soon as possible in order to get infection- and abscess-prevention treatment.

Even if a fracture causes no immediate pain and is not visibly obvious can worsen and require extensive, costly care later.

Taking Care of Minor Injuries

Sustaining a chipped tooth is a common injury in not only motor vehicle accidents, but also in sports activities, and slips and falls.

Chipping a tooth usually involves knocking off a small piece of the enamel of a tooth. The enamel is the hard surface of the tooth. Dentists can often sand a slightly chipped tooth smooth, eliminating sharp edges that can irritate or cut the tongue and lips.

A more extensive chipping may cause discomfort or sensitivity to heat or cold if the inner layer of the tooth (the dentin) has been exposed. If you do experience pain from a chipped tooth, take an over-the-counter painkiller and schedule an appointment with your dentist. The chip may need to be filled in to eliminate the tenderness and to prevent further damage.

Other Injuries

Lips, cheeks and tongues can be bitten or cut in motor vehicle accidents.

If you can, wash or rinse the lacerated area with warm salt water before applying pressure with a cold compress. If you can't stop the bleeding, go to a hospital emergency room. If the laceration is serious, it may require in-mouth stitches.

Sometimes people who have been in traffic collisions don't initially feel any discomfort or see any injuries, but later experience symptoms indicating the necessity of professional care. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Toothache; jaw pain
  • Pain when chewing; sensitivity to heat and/or cold
  • Swelling and pain
  • Bleeding
  • A change in the color of the tooth

Prevention and Treatment Costs

The single most effective way of reducing the risk of dental or mouth injuries is to wear a seatbelt whenever you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.

If you or a family member sustains a tooth or mouth injury in a traffic crash due to someone else's negligence, contact a Michigan personal injury lawyer who can assess the facts of your case and inform you of your legal options to obtain compensation for medical costs, treatment, and pain and suffering.

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  • $4,391,000: Judgment entered on Oakland County jury verdict, 2008. A Michigan man suffered traumatic brain injuries in a motor vehicle accident, which caused a permanent seizure disorder. View More results
  • $2,536,454: Verdict for no-fault benefits for client severely injured in motor vehicle accident. 2012.
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  • $2,360,000: Jury verdict for serious electric shock injuries sustained by client in a construction accident in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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  • $1,400,000: Verdict for no-fault benefits due to a traumatically brain injured client, in this Washtenaw County action against Allstate Insurance Company. View More results
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