An oral and maxillofacial specialist is thoroughly qualified to repair facial injuries. 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.
- Facial lacerations
- Intraoral lacerations
- 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 to teeth to extremely severe injuries to 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. Dr. Morris can perform simple repairs in the office.
Bone Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region
Fractures to the bones in the face are treated in a similar manner to fractures in other parts of the body. The specific form of treatment is determined by various factors, which include the location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, and the age and general health of the patient.
One of these options involves wiring the jaws together for certain fractures of the upper and/or lower jaw. The wiring stays on for several weeks while the bone heals. Certain other types of fractures of the jaw are best treated and stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the involved site.
Injuries to the Teeth & Surrounding Dental Structures
Oral surgeons can assist in replanting teeth that have been displaced or knocked out. These types of injuries are treated by one of a number of forms of splinting or bonding teeth together.
If a tooth is knocked out it should be placed in salt water or milk. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket the better chance it will survive. Therefore, the patient should see a dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible. 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.
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 now utilized as replacements for missing teeth.