Broken tooth

Courtesy Donald Curtis, DMD

Why Dentists Worry About eScooters

Traumatic Injuries Can Be Life-Altering

KCBS Radio Morning News
October 11, 2018 - 6:40 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) -- With the Monday return of rentable e-scooters to San Francisco, medical professionals are worrying that they'll see an increase in facial and dental injuries.

Prosthodontist Don Curtis has treated many so-called "mid-facial trauma" cases in his years in private practice and as a professor at the UC San Francisco School of Dentistry. In the past, they were often caused by bicycle or automobile crashes.

Now, Curtis and his professional colleagues are seeing something new. "What we see here at UCSF is an increasing incidence of people coming in with e-scooter-related trauma to the mid-face," Curtis told KCBS Radio reporter Holly Quan.

And while having a tooth broken or knocked out is no small matter, the injuries can be more severe, "You can break parts of the jaw, you can displace parts of the jaw, you fracture roots, devitalize teeth," Curtis said. All of those injuries require delicate treatment with uncertain outcomes.

Even a missing tooth can matter.  "I have seen personalities change as a result of losing a front tooth," Curtis said.

Curtis, an avid cyclist, worries that many e-scooter users are unaware of the speed and acceleration the devices can achieve. Add in the obstacles of urban life and you have what he considers a recipe for trouble.

"If the people using e-scooters would send a day in a dental office, seeing the kinds of trauma that we see, I think they'd be less willing to take big chances," Curtis said.

Missing tooth
Donald Curtis, DMD