Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained, skilled, and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. Oral and maxillofacial surgery specialists are well-versed in emergency care, acute treatment, and long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation of facial trauma.
Injuries to the face impart a high degree of emotional and physical trauma to patient. The science and art of treating these injuries requires special training involving hands-on experience and an understanding of how the treatment provided will influence the patient’s long term function and appearance.
The following conditions are often handled by an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon:
Avulsed (knocked out) teeth
Fractured facial bones (cheek, nose or eye socket)
Fractured jaws (upper and lower jaw)
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. Types of facial injuries can range from injuries of teeth to extremely severe injuries of the skin and bone of the face.
Some of the most common types of facial trauma include:
- Lacerations to your face and inside your mouth.
- Broken facial bones (nose, cheekbones, eye sockets, even forehead).
- Fractures of the jaw.
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).
Seeking treatment for soft tissue injuries right away is extremely important. Not only does a prompt repair of these types of injuries help to provide an excellent cosmetic fix, but it is also essential for restoring, and maintaining, proper function of facial nerves, salivary glands, and salivary ducts.
When soft tissue injuries like lacerations occur on the face, they are repaired by suturing. In addition to providing a repair that will yield the best cosmetic result possible, care is also taken to inspect and treat injuries to structures such as facial nerves, salivary glands, and salivary ducts (or outflow channels).
One way in which we stabilize facial bones is through the use of wires. Commonly used for a fractured jaw, your mouth is wired shut, which helps to promote healing. After a predetermined amount of time, we remove the wiring and check the stability of your jaw. If it is strong enough, you will move on to rehabilitation. If not, we replace the wiring and check again later. While this treatment is effective, it does render your jaw immobile, making eating very difficult.
The other way in which we stabilize facial bones is through the use of plates and screws, or “rigid fixation.” This method of treatment avoids wiring your jaw closed, providing you with the ability to use it while you heal. This type of treatment can also reduce recovery time, having you back to your normal daily activities sooner. In some cases, the plate and screws are left in place after you have fully healed.
The treatment of facial fractures should be accomplished in a thorough and predictable manner that minimally affects the patient’s facial appearance. An attempt at accessing the facial bones through the fewest incisions necessary is always made. At the same time, the incisions that become necessary are designed to be small and, whenever possible, are placed so that the resultant scar is hidden.
Teeth may be fractured, and the supporting bone damaged. Teeth may be partially displaced or knocked out completely.
At BC Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we can repair damaged bone, reset displaced teeth, and replant the ones that have been completely knocked out. The teeth are stabilized in a variety of ways, including splits, wiring, or bonding teeth together.
Oral surgeons are usually involved in treating fractures in the supporting bone or in replanting teeth that have been displaced or knocked out.
If a tooth is knocked out:
- Place the tooth in salt water or milk.
- 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.
- The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better chance it will survive so the patient should see an Oral surgeon as soon as possible.
Can Facial Fractures heal on their own?
You would run a great risk if you were to let a facial injury heal on its own, regardless of the intensity of pain.
Without professional help, a facial injury could lead to permanent damage or could even put your life at risk. The facial skeleton is a delicate structure that contains many channels for the nerves responsible for smell, sight, and touch. If the injury is left to heal on its own and there is a fracture, the bones could impede the nerves and cause a loss in sensation.
Jaw bone fractures can cause breathing difficulties as well as impact the ability to chew and swallow. Also due to the proximity of the face to the central nervous system, facial injuries can sometimes damage or affect the spinal cord.
Diagnosis and Planning
If you experience facial trauma, we will conduct several tests.
These tests will help us to determine the extent of your injuries, and allow us to formulate a treatment plan that will provide you with the best possible outcome.
Angiographs help us to locate the source of bleeding. We may also take images such as X-rays or CT scans, which can help us to determine the presence of fractures, and whether or not oral surgery is needed.
Once we have evaluated your condition, we are then able to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.
Schedule a Facial Trauma Examination
At BC Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, our Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon can perform an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, to to determine the extent of your injuries, and allow us to formulate a treatment plan that will provide you with the best possible outcome