Navigating Benefits

Dental Injury at the Office? Here’s How to Address It


  • A number of dental injuries can occur at the workplace, no matter the industry

  • It's important to encourage colleagues to get treated right away

  • Have an action plan in place that includes a list of in-network dentists who can be contacted

Posted by September 7, 2018

A dental injury at the office can happen at any time, but it’s no reason to panic! If one of your colleagues suffers an oral issue at the workplace, it’s important to put their needs first and make it clear that they should get treatment as soon as possible. Then, make sure you follow all the legal steps you might need to take.

Here’s what can happen—and how you can be the best help to your fellow employees—if there’s a dental injury at the office.

Tooth Problems Can Happen at Work

Even if you’re not in an industry that you might typically associate with tooth injuries, such as construction, tooth problems can still crop up during work hours. A severe toothache can start unexpectedly, a filling can come loose, braces can break or you could trip and chip a tooth. You might even just bite down on something wrong and crack a tooth while you’re at work.

Sometimes, tooth problems are a result of pre-existing conditions that have been growing under the surface for quite some time, but make an unexpected appearance during work hours. Other times, an accident might occur that actually falls under a workers’ compensation claim.

Getting Treatment Right Away

Some tooth problems will need immediate attention, so your organization should make it clear that it’s OK for staff to take care of an emergency situation during work hours. Letting team members know that their health comes first is a great way to enhance morale (and loyalty).

Most tooth injuries will be covered by a dental insurance plan, so it’s more a question of where staff should go for help—and how long it takes to get there. If an employee is on a dental PPO, a fee-for-service plan or a dental discount plan, then they can go to any in-network dentist for help. If an employee’s preferred dentist isn’t available, then they may need to go somewhere else for an initial checkup. A DHMO is more restrictive about who individuals can see but may have exceptions for emergency situations.

It’s a good idea to make a list of in-network dentists who are available for emergencies, just in case the list is ever needed. If a dentist isn’t available right away, your colleague may need to visit an urgent care center or an ER to help manage their symptoms until a dental professional becomes available.

Communicating With Staff

Your company should have an action plan in place for handling emergency medical and dental situations. This plan should include getting staff treatment right away and notifying management about what happened.

The plan should also list where the first aid kit is located and what’s in it. Include the list of available in-network dentists as well as contact information for nearby urgent care centers. You should give copies of this plan to all employees. You’ll want to talk to the HR manager, as well as your company’s health care agent and attorney, to make sure you have all the best steps included in the action plan.

Considering Workers’ Compensation

Remember, there are some situations where a dental injury might actually fall under a workers’ compensation claim, such as falls, slips, trips or car accidents at work. In these situations, getting treatment right away is still the top priority. It’s important to consult with your organization’s attorney about how the action plan should approach workers’ comp situations, and whether you should include a list of workers’ comp dentists in your plan.

After any on-the-job dental injury, you’ll want to let the attorney know what happened. If it’s a workers’ comp situation, your company may need to provide a claim form to the employee and report the injury to the insurance company. Keep records of everything, including video of the accident (if available) and statements from employees who witnessed the accident, in case you need them.

A dental injury is not the time to panic—it’s the time to get to work helping employees find relief. If you have an action plan in place, then you’ll know just what to do! Remember: the top priority is staff member’s health.

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