Our oral pathologists have extensive experience in the treatment of facial injuries. Our oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained, skilled and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma and any resulting dental surgery. Injuries to the face, by their very nature, impart a high degree of emotional, as well as physical trauma to patients. The science and art of treating these injuries requires special training involving a “hands on” experience and an understanding of how the treatment provided will influence the patient’s long term function and appearance.
Our oral and maxillofacial surgeons meet and exceed these modern standards. They are trained, skilled, and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. They are on staff at local hospitals and deliver emergency room coverage for facial injuries, which include the following conditions:
- Fractured facial bones (cheek, nose or eye socket)
- Fractured jaws (upper and lower jaw)
- Facial lacerations
- Intraoral lacerations
- Avulsed (knocked out) teeth
The Nature of Maxillofacial Trauma
There are a number of possible causes of facial trauma such as motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, interpersonal violence and work-related injuries. These injuries can range from injuries of 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. In addition to the obvious concern of providing a repair that yields the best cosmetic result possible, care is taken to inspect for and treat injuries to structures such as facial nerves, salivary glands and salivary ducts (or outflow channels). Our surgeons 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 most appropriate treatment is determined by various factors. The location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture and the age and general health of the patient are all important. When an arm or a leg is fractured, the bones are repaired with plates and screws or a cast is 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.
One of the options for treatment involves wiring the jaws together. Some fractures of the jaw are best treated and stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the involved site. This technique of treatment often eliminates or decrease the duration of time the jaws are required to be 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.
Facial fractures are treated predictably. Our oral and maxillofacial surgeons attempt to provide treatment of the fractured facial through the fewest and most inconspicuous incisions.
Injuries to the Teeth and Surrounding Dental Structures
Isolated injuries to teeth are quite common. Our surgeons often become involved in treating fractures in the supporting bone of teeth (alveolar bone fractures) or the replacement of teeth that have been displaced or avulsed (knocked out).
The jaw surgery used to treat Alveolar fractures include stabilizing wires or bonding. If a tooth is knocked out, it should be placed in the patient’s cheek. Do not place the tooth in milk or allow it to become desiccated (dried out). The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better chance it will survive. The patient should see their dentist as soon as possible. Never attempt to wipe the tooth off because remnants of the ligament that hold the tooth in the jaw are attached and are vital to the success of replanting the tooth. Root canal therapy and/or repair of fractured teeth may be required. In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants are often now utilized as replacements for missing teeth.