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Workers' Comp And Dental Trauma: What You Should Know

About 48% of workers who get injured on the job suffer dental trauma on top of their other wounds. Yet, this is a seldom discussed aspect of workers' compensation benefits. If you end up with a damaged tooth (or teeth) from an incident on the job, this is what you should know:

Your lack of prior dental care can be an issue.

The problem with claiming workers' comp for dental issues is that there's often a lack of dental care in the first place. Around 1/3 of U.S. adults haven't been to the dentist at all within the last year, and around 27% of adults between the ages of 20–44 have untreated dental problems. Generally speaking, the lower your income, the less likely you are to have had proper dental care–which means that you may have dental issues that are unrelated to your injuries.

For example, if you get hit in the jaw with a steel girder, you could end up with a broken jaw and chipped teeth. But what if you also have several teeth in the same area that are badly decayed? Your dentist may want to treat all of the teeth at once, but workers' comp is only going to cover the damage that's related to your accident. If you're suffering from something like periodontitis (and nearly 50% of U.S. adults are), you may need to be treated for that in order to effectively treat the other serious injuries to your teeth.

That can make it complicated for you to get the compensation and medical care that you need. Insurance companies want to limit their expenses as sharply as possible. That means not paying out on anything that isn't necessary as a direct result of the accident.

You may have a long and expensive recovery.

Dental injuries can take a tremendous amount of work to fix. A serious dental injury could require 15-20 visits to the dentist for work and top $200,000 in costs. It's not unusual for one dental problem to develop into another.

For example, the pain of your injuries might cause tension in your jaw and cause you to grind your teeth, both of which can lead to the development of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. The breaks or chips in your teeth might expose the dental nerves to bacteria, leading to unexpected root canals or surgeries. If you need implants to replace missing teeth, they can fail. That could cause you to change course and essentially start over with a different restorative treatment, like dentures.

Whatever your situation, if you suffer a dental injury as part of a workplace accident. it might be wise to contact an attorney. Dental claims can be difficult to handle on your own and you may encounter some resistance from your employer's insurer when it comes time to pay the bill. For more information, contact a workers compensation attorney in your area.