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TitleThe effect of motor vehicle airbag deployment on tooth surfaces
AuthorsAshar A, James H, Higgins D, Anderson RWG
TypeJournal Article
AbstractMotor vehicle airbag technology is directed at the reduction of injury to drivers and passengers however a number of researchers have reported cases of injuries caused by airbags. Injuries to tooth surfaces, particularly tooth wear following the deployment of motor vehicle airbags, have never been studied. A review of the literature and clinical experience does not suggest tooth enamel abrasion to be a likely outcome following airbag deployment. This in vitro pilot study was conducted to assess the effect on tooth surfaces following the deployment of motor vehicle airbags, and in particular to attempt to reproduce the injuries claimed in a case report published in the Journal of Forensic Odonto Stomatology in December 2007. A sample of extracted upper anterior teeth (n = 20) were analyzed using unaided visual observation, photographic and microscopic observation pre- and post- airbag deployment. Teeth were mounted on a fabricated head form (similar to those used in crash test dummies) using dental putty. The tests were performed using a modified airbag test rig with airbags deployed in 5 different positions relative to the head, with respect to distance and angulations. The result of the tests showed no changes to the teeth with unaided observation, macro photography or under the microscope. Tooth wear patterns described in the case report were not observed. Although accurate reproduction of an in vivo situation is not possible, this study has given some insight into the effects of motor vehicle airbag deployment, and suggests that significant tooth wear is an unlikely outcome from airbag deployment.
Journal TitleThe Journal of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology
Journal Volume (Issue)27(2)
Page Range50-55
Page Count6

Ashar A, James H, Higgins D, Anderson RWG (2009). The effect of motor vehicle airbag deployment on tooth surfaces. The Journal of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology, 27(2), 50-55.