Learn more about common facial and dental injuries and how oral surgery may benefit!
Trauma to your teeth and surrounding facial structures can be very complex — not only are they physically painful but they can leave a lasting emotional effect as well. If dental and facial trauma does occur, it’s imperative to have the best oral surgery care from doctors who specialize in both dental and facial trauma.
At The Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery, not only do we have a state-of-the-art surgical facility but oral surgeons committed to patient care. Learn more about common facial and dental injuries in today’s post.
The Concern Of Facial And Dental Trauma
Whether you get a tooth knocked out from playing a sport, or you are involved in a serious car accident, trauma to your teeth and face typically requires special care from oral surgeons and it’s something that isn’t cured with the help of an ice pack and ibuprofen — it’s important to have any dental or facial injuries treated immediately.
Facial and dental trauma becomes a large concern because if it’s left untreated, it can lead to permanent facial disfigurement, which can then lead to facial impairments such as the loss of the ability to eat and even speak.
In addition to physical facial impairment, facial and dental trauma and also cause emotional damage. Because we typically see the face first upon an initial impression, this can heavily impact self-esteem in people leading to confidence issues which then significantly alters almost all of our interpersonal relationships.
What is facial and dental trauma?
Maxillofacial trauma is a physical injury to the face and/or teeth that may include:
- Broken bones to the jaw, nose, or cheekbones
- Soft tissue injuries
These injuries can be caused by sports, motor vehicle accidents, or accidents such as falling or tripping.
The Three Most Common Types Of Dental And Facial Trauma
While there are a variety of causes of dental and facial trauma, sports accidents are still considered to be the primary, number one factor, followed by motor vehicle accidents. When a person experiences dental or facial injuries, it typically impacts one (or more) of the facial structure. Let’s explore these below.
Mouth And Tooth Injuries
Many dental injuries involve breaking or chipping teeth, and often involve a multi-step approach to treatment. For example, if tooth loss occurs, you may need an oral surgeon to repair a bone fracture or perform a bone graft, while more minor injuries may require restorative dentistry.
Bone traumas affect facial areas around the cheeks, jaws, eyes, and nose, so it’s vital to work with an oral surgeon who can not only treat the bone trauma and provide regular function back to the area, but one that is also able to maintain your aesthetics.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries can occur as lacerations to the facial area. It’s important to address these and have an oral surgeon evaluate them, because if the laceration is deep enough, it may affect salivary glands and nerves.
The Treatment Of Dental And Facial Injuries
While the oral surgeons at AOFS will work with you to develop the best, individualized treatment plan, let’s examine how some of the most common injuries are treated.
Cheekbone Fractures (Zygomas)
Cheekbone fractures often occur after a hard blow to the face from an object, or unfortunately, a person’s fist. A fractured cheekbone looks flat and people will likely have numbness in the area along with a limited range of motion and difficulty chewing.
The treatment of a zygoma typically involves setting the bone and placing hardware such as plates and screws. The healing time is generally around four to six weeks.
A dentoalveolar injury occurs with trauma in surrounding teeth and soft tissues, and are as a result of severity are typically treated in stages.
It’s important to first stabilize any fractures and apply hardware (plates and screws) in the initial stage, and then rebuild the area by placing bone grafts, dental implants, or the dental prosthetic of choice.
Depending on the dental and facial damage, it can take upwards of four to six months to completely heal.
Facial (Maxillary) Fractures
Facial fractures are often separated into three groups including the upper maxilla, the lower maxilla, and the mid maxilla. These facial fractures can then be further classified into the features they often present with such as Le Fort 1, Le Fort 2, Le Fort 3.
Treating facial fractures promptly and efficiently is crucial because the main concern is the possibility of a closed or impaired airway, so if immediate attention is warranted to ensure that the person can breathe properly.
Treatment includes securing air passageways by re-positioning the bones back into their original location and creating function and aesthetics without little to no sign of the injury. This may include dental braces and hardware (microplates, resorbable plates, etc) to retain the original facial structure to the person.
Should a lower jaw fracture occur, there are a couple of essential ways to treat it.
Most commonly, is immobilization, or wiring the jaws together to allow them to heal. Alternatively, there is open reduction that involves the use of hardware and placing a variety of plates and screws inside the jaw.
The healing time for a fractured jaw is typically four to six weeks.
Preventing Dental And Facial Injuries
While dental and facial injuries come swiftly, because sports injuries are the number one cause of these traumas, wearing a mouthguard is imperative. Similarly, wearing helmets, protective eyewear, and face shields appropriate to your sport is also so important.
Dental and facial traumas often come unexpected and most commonly affect your teeth, bones, and soft tissues in your face. The takeaway here is to always seek medical expertise immediately following an injury from those who specialize in oral surgery.
Not only are they able to diagnose the issue, but they can go in and correct the injury while helping improve the function and aesthetics of your face.
The Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery is qualified to handle all of your dental and facial traumas!
The oral surgeons at AOFS have specialized training in craniofacial and maxillofacial surgery, which equips them with the necessary skills and education to handle all dental and facial traumas, including what we discussed above.
Our oral surgeons handle dental and facial injuries on a daily basis allowing them to provide the best, most innovative care, in addition to being able to do this in a time-effective manner that is more cost-efficient for the patient!
To learn more about our advanced, patient-centered care browse our Corrective Jaw Surgery and Facial Trauma Treatment pages.
And if you’re ready to book a consultation, connect with us today!