Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are trained, skilled, and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma which include the following conditions:
- Facial lacerations
- Intra oral lacerations
- Avulsed teeth
- Fractured facial bones (cheek, nose, or eye socket)
- Fractured jaws (upper and lower)
The Nature of Maxillofacial Trauma
There are a number of possible causes of facial trauma such as motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, and work related injuries, etc. Facial injuries can range from injuries to the teeth to extremely severe injuries of the skin and bones of the face. Typically, facial injuries are classified as either soft tissue injuries (skin and gums), bone injuries (fractures), or injuries to special regions (such as the eyes, facial nerves or the salivary glands).
Soft Tissue Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region
When soft tissue injuries such as lacerations occur on the face, they are repaired by suturing. Our doctors take special care to also inspect and treat injuries to the surrounding areas such as nerves and glands. Our doctors are well-trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons and are proficient at diagnosing and treating all types of facial lacerations.
Bone Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region
Fractures of the bones of the face are treated in a manner similar to the fractures in other parts of the body. The specific form of treatment is determined by various factors, which include the location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, and the age and general health of the patient. When an arm or a leg is fractured, a cast is often applied to stabilize the bone to allow for proper healing. Since a cast cannot be placed on the face, other means have been developed to stabilize facial fractures.
For upper and/or lower jaw fractures, a technique involving wiring the jaws together is often practiced. Certain types of fractures of the jaw are best treated and stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the injured site. This technique alleviates the need to have the jaws wired together. This technique is called “rigid fixation” of a fracture. The relatively recent development and use of rigid fixation has profoundly improved the recovery period for many patients, allowing them to return to normal function more quickly.
It is the goal of our surgeons to make minimal incisions when possible in an attempt to preserve the facial features and reduce the effects of scaring.
Injuries to the Teeth and Surrounding Dental Structures
Isolated injuries to teeth are quite common and may require the expertise of various dental specialists. Oral surgeons are usually involved in treating fractures in the supporting bone or in replanting teeth that have been displaced. These types of injuries are treated by several forms of splinting (stabilizing by wiring or bonding teeth together). If a tooth is knocked out, it should be placed in salt water or milk. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better chance it will have of survival. Therefore, the patient should see a dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible. Never attempt to wipe the tooth off, since remnants of the ligament that hold the tooth in the jaw are attached and are vital to the success of replanting the tooth. Other dental specialists may be called upon such as endodontists, who may be asked to perform root canal therapy, and/or restorative dentists who may need to repair or rebuild fractured teeth. In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants are recommended.