Fractures and sprains, loss of limbs, knee and back injuries-these are common impairments that come to mind when we think of workplace injuries. Mouth trauma is a smaller, rarely imagined category of workplace injuries that affect less than 1% of injured workers annually.
As rare as hen’s teeth: Dental trauma accounts for less than 1% of workplace injuries
According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, mouth injuries accounted for just 2,160 injuries out of 882,730 total injuries reported in the US private *workforce* industry. These were further specified as:
- 1,040 fractures
- 690 lacerations
- 70 bruises and contusions
- 30 cuts
- 580 affecting the lips
- 1,150 injuries to the tooth (teeth)
- 70 multiple (injury) locations in the mouth
When compared to the total workplace injuries in 2017, these numbers seem minute. However, dental injuries are just as traumatic as common, nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. Furthermore, the dental workers’ comp claims process can prove just as complex, if not more than traditional workers’ comp injury claims. If not addressed immediately and the workers’ comp process fails, mouth trauma can have effects as long-lasting and severe as back injuries or limited mobility.
Biting off more than you can chew: Dental claims and workers’ comp cases
If your mouth is injured during a workplace incident, your next steps are crucial to your recovery and workers’ comp claim.
Below are a few tips to help you successfully process your workers’ comp dental claim.
- Find a dentist well versed in the workers compensation claim process.
- Know that while dentists will work to fix all issues with your mouth, the workers’ comp insurance will only cover those issues caused by the workplace injury.
- Know your specialists. Your injury may require more than one type of dentist.
Finding a well-versed workers’ comp dentist
Not all dental insurance claims are created equally. Managing dental claims in workers’ compensation cases require knowledge of the process and forms, the distinct billing procedures, workers’ comp terminology, the workers’ comp timeline, and the process of managed care for your particular workplace injury.
If your dentist is unfamiliar with the workers’ comp dental claims process, you want to find another dentist.
Workers’ comp insurance only covers workplace injuries
Dentists rarely see a patient for one issue. They perform full examinations and recommend treatments based on all issues present in the mouth. It’s important to know that while your dentist may want to fix all the issues you present, the workers’ comp claim will only pay for those injuries which occurred at the time of your workplace accident.
To avoid being stuck with a bill for thousands of dollars when the workers’ compensation will only cover hundreds, make sure your dentist knows you can only afford to fix that for which you will be compensated. Your dentist must create an appropriate dental care plan for your covered injuries.
Your injury may require more than one type of dentist
Depending on your injuries, your dental care plan may require a periodontist, an endodontist, or oral surgeon. The more professionals needed, the more complex the claims process, the lengthier the claims process. Make sure your dentist explains the role of each specialist in your dental care plan and the effects of each visit and procedure on your workers’ comp dental claims process.