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Assessment of minor dental injuries fact sheet

Many of the permanent impairment assessments undertaken by dentists have involved what appear to be minor dental injuries (such as chipped teeth, cracked teeth or the loss of one tooth).

In many of these matters there is also no evidence that the injured person has sought or undertaken any dental treatment for these dental injuries.

Some of these assessments may be undertaken by a non-dentist* medical assessor in conjunction with their assessment of other injuries, provided the assessor has undergone suitable training in relation to the assessment of minor dental injuries.

It is anticipated that these non-dentist assessors will assess only minor dental injuries (such as chipped or cracked teeth, or a missing tooth) with the proviso that they are able to refer the assessment of what they determine to be more complex and/or serious dental injuries back to MAS, so that referral to a MAS appointed dentist may be arranged.

The assessment of dental injuries is undertaken using chapter 9, AMA 4, Section 9.3b Mastication and Deglutition (p 231), as modified by the MAA’s Impairment Assessment Guidelines (1 October 2007), sections 6.18 – 6.21 Teeth (p 37).

* Non-dentist assessors are those medically trained MAS assessors (excluding psychiatrists) who do not possess formal training in the area of dentistry, but have successfully undertaken training offered by MAS and have passed an examination in relation to the assessment of minor dental injuries.

Protocol for the assessment of minor dental injuries

This protocol applies to MAS permanent impairment, stabilisation and earning capacity disputes where a dental injury has been listed by the parties as an injury to be assessed.

The protocol applies when conducting a preliminary assessment (PA) and notifying the parties of MAS appointments.

1. Conducting a preliminary assessment

I. The Case Manager will review the injuries listed by the parties on the MAS application and reply forms.

II. Clarification and further information in relation to the dental injury will be sought from the parties if:

i. The parties have not indicated the site or sites of the dental injury

ii. If “dental injury” has been listed

iii. If the parties have only listed symptoms such as “difficulty eating/chewing”

If the parties do not respond within 15 days, the matter will proceed to assessment by a non-dentist assessor, if there are other injuries which that assessor would normally also assess.

III. If the requested information has been provided or no clarification was required, the Case Manager will review the file to determine whether the dental injury is referred to a dentist or a non-dentist MAS assessor by consulting the selection criteria below.

Selection criteria – dental injuries which should be referred to a dentist for assessment:

If at PA stage the file reveals any of the following, the dental injury should be referred to a MAS appointed dentist for assessment:

  • If the dispute involves a treatment dispute about the dental injury
  • A treating dentist report has been submitted by the parties
  • Dental x-rays have been undertaken and copies of reports are submitted by the parties
  • Radiology reports of the temporomandibular joints are submitted
  • Medical/hospital notes indicate intervention has been undertaken by a dentist and/or oral maxillo-facial surgeon
  • There is documentation on file that the injured person has been seen or treated by a dentist or oral maxillo facial surgeon
  • The dental Injury has been submitted as the sole injury to be assessed
  • This is a further assessment of the dental injury (MAS 4A)
  • Further treatment or intervention by a dentist or oral maxillo surgeon is anticipated
  • TMJ injuries
  • There is uncertainty about the extent or seriousness of the dental injury
  • If the injured person is a child.

Selection criteria – dental injuries which should be referred to a non-dentist assessor for assessment:

If at PA stage the file reveals any of the following, the dental injury can be referred to a MAS appointed non-dentist assessor:

  • If there is no documentation on file to support that the injured person has sustained a dental injury or sought treatment,
  • Common minor dental injuries such as:
    • Chipped teeth
    • Broken teeth
    • Fractured teeth
    • Missing tooth/teeth.

2. Allocation to a dentist

  • Case Management Services will ensure the assessor’s letter of referral clearly states which injuries are to be assessed
  • Parties are to be advised of the MAS appointment and a copy of the assessor’s referral letter is to be provided to the parties

3. Allocation to a non-dentist assessor

  • Case Management Services will ensure the assessor’s letter of referral clearly states which injuries are to be assessed
  • If following the assessment the non-dentist assessor believes the dental injury would be best assessed by a dentist, he/she is to state this in their Statement of Reasons and the Case Manager will arrange for the dental injury to be referred to a MAS appointed dentist for assessment
  • Details of the appointment with the dentist and a copy of the assessor’s referral letter will be provided to the parties

4. If either party believes the matter should be referred to a dentist for assessment

  • If either party, prior to the assessment with the non-dentist assessor, believes that the dental injury should be referred to a dentist, they should contact the Case Manager to discuss this.
  • The party should advise the Case Manager of their reasons and provide supporting documentation as required by the above selection criteria for the referral of the dental injury to a dentist

5. If either party identifies in the non-dentists assessor’s Statement of Reasons that the assessor has indicated that the dental injury would be best assessed by a dentist

  • There may be instances where the Case Management Services staff do not identify that the non-dentist assessor has stated in their Statement of Reasons that the dental injury would be best assessed by a dentist
  • In these instances, the parties should contact the Case Manager either by letter or telephone to advise them of the non-dentist assessor’s statement, and ask that the Case Manager arrange an appointment with either a dentist
  • The Case Manager will review the non-dentist assessor’s Statement of Reasons to verify that the dental injury needs to be assessed by a dentist and if appropriate, arrange for the dental injury to be referred to a dentist for assessment
  • Details of the appointment with a dentist and a copy of the assessor’s referral letter will be provided to the parties

6. If a party considers the report to be incorrect in a material respect

If either party considers there has been a material error under section 63 of the MAC Act, they may lodge an application for review within 20 working days of the date of the letter from MAS enclosing that assessor’s report.

If you have any queries about a specific matter number please contact the case manager on the letter of referral.