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Minerva Stomatologica 2015 June;64(3):143-54


language: English, Italian

Further considerations in terms of the permanent impairment of the of chewing organ

Bin P., De Ferrari F.

Unit of Public Health and Human Sciences, Department of Medico‑surgical, Radiological and Public Heath Specialty, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy


Nowadays, the drawbacks to utilizing criminal law with regards to a traumatic event, whether accidental or iatrogenic, involving the dental apparatus are still prevailing. A lesion affecting the stomatognathic apparatus can in fact integrate the offense of grievous bodily harm under Art.583 of the Italian Criminal Code (cc) as “permanent weakening of the organ” or the functions to which is appointed, i.e. the masticatory function, but also to the indwelling voice, appearance and taste. Repeatedly, jurisprudence, in the past and more recently, has set an opinion on the issue and, currently, it is possible to indicate some recognized cornerstones as deep-seated on the matter. It is a well-known fact that the organ of mastication does not represent a defined anatomical organ but, instead, it is an anatomical and functional entity consisting of a complex of different structures and not just from the dental apparatus. Moreover, any functional anatomic alteration of any single entity can have a certain weight on the other components and, therefore, on the whole organ in its entirety. Medical-legal doctrine, already in the past, supported the need for a tangible assessment of the impairment, determining whether and how much the loss of even one anatomical element could have a negative impact on the operational equilibrium of the entire stomatognathic system, whilst verifying the actual subsistence of a weakening. The loss of a dental element can take on a different meaning when such event occurs on a system already functionally deficient. In such instances, one should consider whether any pre-existing condition compromise the system, and to what extent, so that the trauma has considerable bearing on the remaining masticatory function. If the apparatus is in a position to perform even in part its function, the blunt force trauma is likely to set the aggravating circumstance.

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