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Facial & Mouth Trauma
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are trained, skilled, and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. By their very nature, injuries to the face impart a high degree of emotional and physical trauma to patients. The science and art of treating these injuries require special training, which involves a “hands-on” experience and an understanding of how the treatment provided will influence the patient’s long term function and appearance.
Our doctors 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:
- Facial lacerations
- Intraoral lacerations
- Fractured facial bones (cheek, nose, forehead, or eye sockets)
- Fractured jaws (upper and lower jaw)
The Nature of Maxillofacial Trauma
Facial trauma can be caused by a number of things. Motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, interpersonal violence, and work-related injuries account for many. Types of 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), bony injuries (fractures), or injuries to a special region, such as the eyes, facial nerves, or the salivary glands.
Bone Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region
Fractures in facial bones are treated similarly to the fractures in other parts of the body. The specific form of treatment is determined by various factors, including 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 and allow for proper healing. Since a cast cannot be placed on the face, other means have been developed to stabilize facial fractures.
One of those options involves wiring the jaws together for certain fractures of the upper and/or lower jaw. Other types of fractures of the jaw are best treated and stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the site. This treatment technique often allows for healing and obviates the necessity of having the jaws wired together for long periods of time. This technique is called “rigid fixation” of the fracture. The relatively recent development and use of “rigid fixation” have profoundly improved the recovery period for many patients, allowing them to return to normal function more quickly.
The treatment of facial fractures should be accomplished in a thorough and predictable manner. Importantly, the patient’s facial appearance should be minimally affected. Our doctors attempt to access the facial bones through the fewest incisions necessary is always made, though the incisions that become necessary are designed to be small. Whenever possible, incisions are placed so that the resulting scar is “hidden.”
Injuries to the Teeth and Surrounding Dental Structures
Isolated injuries to the teeth are quite common and can require the expertise of various dental specialists. Oral surgeons are normally involved in treating fractures in the supporting bone or in replanting teeth displaced or “knocked out”. These types of injuries are treated by one of a number of forms of “splinting”, which is the stabilization through wiring or bonding the teeth together. If a tooth is “knocked out” it should be replaced into the tooth socket as soon as possible.
The tooth can temporarily be placed in saltwater or milk for transport. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better the chances are that it will survive. The patient should see a dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible. Never attempt to “wipe the tooth off” however, as remnants of the ligament that hold the tooth in the jaw are attached. These 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 often utilized as replacements for missing teeth.
The proper treatment of facial injuries is now the realm of specialists, well versed in the emergency care, acute treatment and long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation of the patient. To speak to one of our specialists, please call (503) 646-7101, or use the form below to schedule an appointment.