Facial trauma is a term that refers to any physical trauma to the face. The doctor that specializes in treating facial traumas is an oral & maxillofacial surgeon.
There are numerous possible causes of facial trauma. Motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, interpersonal violence, and work related injuries account for many types of facial trauma.
Types of facial injuries can range from dental injuries to extremely severe injuries of the skin and bones of the face.
Mandible fractures can result from any direct physical trauma or blunt trauma to the face. Many patients who sustain a mandible fracture will present with pain in the lower jaw, and a complaint that their teeth are not coming together. Patients with a mandible fracture may also have numbness of their lower face or lower lip. Treatment of mandible fractures may require that the teeth be wired together during the surgery so that titanium plates and screws can be applied to realign the broken bones.
Le Fort fractures are facial fractures involving the maxillary bone and surrounding structures. Amongst the many signs and symptoms, patients with Le Fort fractures may present with swelling of the upper lip, inability to put their teeth together, facial swelling and bruising, and numbness in the mid face region. Just like with mandible fractures, Le Fort fractures sometimes require that during the surgery, teeth be wired together to realign the broken bones with titanium plates and screws, and then the teeth are usually unwired at the end of the procedure.
Cheek fractures may cause visible deformity, and since the cheek bone also forms part of the eye socket, these fractures may involve fractures of the eye socket. Just like with the treatment of other facial fractures, the surgical correction of cheek fractures may require using titanium plates and screws to hold the bones together.
Nasal fractures, or broken noses, are very common facial surgeries that the oral & maxillofacial surgeon corrects. The injuries can occur from relatively minor trauma, such as falling against a door, or being hit with an elbow during a sports game. Patients with a nose fracture will often notice that their nose is swollen and that it is pushed over to one side. When treated shortly after the injury, broken noses may be treated by a “closed reduction”, which means that the nose is manipulated and molded back to the midline. Sometimes, however, a closed reduction may not completely correct the fracture, and additional procedures may be required several months later.
Injuries to the teeth and surrounding dental structures are also treated by an oral & maxillofacial surgeon. These types of injuries may involve treating fractures of the bone that surrounds your teeth and re-implanting teeth which have been displaced or “knocked out”. These types of injuries are treated by one of a number of forms of “splinting” (stabilizing by wiring or bonding teeth together).
If a tooth is “knocked-out”, immediately place it in milk. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better chance it will survive. Therefore, the patient should call and see us as soon as possible. Never attempt to “wipe the tooth off”, since remnants of the ligament which hold the tooth in the jaw may still be on the tooth and are vital to the success of replanting the tooth.
Other dental specialists, such as endodontists and restorative dentists, may be called upon to perform root canal therapy and to repair fractured teeth. In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental bone grafting may need to be performed to preserve enough bone structure for future procedures involving dental implants, to replace these missing teeth.
Dr. Cohen is cognizant of the emotional, functional and cosmetic impact that patients often experience from facial trauma and is dedicated towards providing his patients with the absolute best care.
Treatment for the various facial traumas can range from surgical options (in cases such as mandible, la forte, and cheek fractures) to merely splinting (for injuries to the teeth and surrounding dental structures). As with all procedures, Dr. Cohen’s primary goal is to serve the best interests of his patients and restore the maximum possible functionality and structure.