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Facial Trauma

When people think of Maxillofacial Trauma (or facial trauma), they usually think of jaw surgery. The truth is oral surgeons do much more than just reconstructive jaw surgery. Maxillofacial injuries can include anything with the face like…

  • Facial lacerations
  • Intra oral lacerations
  • Avulsed (a.k.a. knocked out) teeth
  • Fractured facial bones like cheek, nose or eye socket
  • Fractured jaws upper, lower or both

All facial injuries are classified into three areas: soft tissue injuries (skin and gums), bone injuries (fractures), or injuries to particular regions (the eyes, the facial nerves or the salivary glands). As for the types of facial injuries, these can range from minor teeth injuries to extreme harm to the skin and bones of the face. This is why rehabilitation for facial trauma can last weeks to even months or years. It really comes down to the extent of the injury and the type.

Facial Trauma

When lacerations occur on the face, suturing or ‘sewing up’ the affected area repairs them. This might sound simplistic, but in actuality it takes a very steady hand – and a doctor who understands nerves so that it’s done correctly. So while the best possible cosmetic results are certainly desired, it’s also important that the oral surgeon inspect and treat injuries to other structures, such as facial nerves, salivary glands and salivary ducts.

Facial Injury Types: Bone Injuries

Facial fractures are cared for in the same way as other fractures in the body. When an arm or a leg is fractured, the doctor makes a cast to stabilize the bone for proper healing. Now since a human face isn’t cast friendly, oral surgeons must find other means to stabilize facial fractures. The specific form of treatment, though, is determined by several factors, such as the location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, and the age and general health of the patient.

One of these treatments is reconstructive jaw surgery, which involves wiring the jaws together for certain fractures of the upper and/or lower jaw. However, certain other types of jaw surgery are best treated and stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the involved site. This technique, called "rigid fixation,” can be more convenient since it allows for healing while eliminating the necessity of having the jaws wired together.

Cosmetically it’s important that the patient's facial appearance be minimally affected by using the fewest incisions necessary. It’s also important that the incisions be small and, whenever possible, placed so that the resulting scar is hidden from plain view. In some cases this just isn’t possible, but again it depends on the amount of trauma that has been sustained by the patient.

Facial Injury Types: Bone Injuries

A knocked out tooth is one of the most common types of facial trauma, but there are a few steps you must follow before you ever see an oral surgeon:

  • Find the tooth and immediately place it in salt water or milk
  • Never wipe off the tooth to clean it. There are often remnants of the ligament still attached that hold the tooth in the jaw, which is vital to the success of replanting the tooth.
  • Get to your oral surgeon as soon as possible since the sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better chance for tooth survival.

In some cases an endodontist might be called to perform a root canal, or a restorative dentist might need to repair or rebuild fractured teeth. Furthermore, if the tooth cannot be saved or repaired, then dental implants might be the best solution.

Facial Injury Types: Bone Injuries

The causes of facial trauma are numerous – vehicle accidents, slips and falls, sports injuries, violence or work related injuries.  But no matter the reason, they all have the same thing in common – they are not only physically traumatic but also emotionally traumatic. Whether it’s the event itself or the recovery after the incident, there is both a physical toll and a mental toll all patients must face.

Finding the right oral surgeon requires locating someone who not only has the medical experience and knowledge to treat the facial injury, but who also possesses a bedside manner that is conducive to healing. The emotional treatment that oral surgeons provide is just as important as the physical treatment because it can influence the patient's long-term function, appearance and recovery. This is why the oral surgeon you choose is so important – physically and mentally.

Contact Pottsville Oral Surgery today if you or someone you love needs help during this physically and emotionally painful time. Give us the chance to help you heal so that you can put your life back on track and put facial trauma behind you.