Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons are dental specialists who have opted to undergo advanced training and education in the diagnosis and treatment of various injuries and conditions of the head and neck.
There are many different ways that a face can be damaged and need some type of reconstruction. Accidents, falls, automobile crashes, and blunt force trauma, are among the most common causes. Some of the main types of facial injuries resulting from these instances are lacerations, fractured teeth, fractured jaws, fractured facial bones, knocked out teeth and intraoral lacerations.
Soft Tissue Injuries – Soft tissue trauma includes lacerations of any kind to the skin, including intraoral gum damage.
Avulsed Teeth – It is very common during trauma situations to see teeth become “knocked out” and therefore must be dealt with immediately to insure success of re-implantation.
Bony Injuries – This category incorporates injury or trauma to the entire face, including, fractured cheekbones, jaw bones, eye sockets, and palates and noses.
Special Regions – Special regions refer to any trauma or injury to the nerves in the face, the eyes, and the salivary glands.
Reasons for Facial Trauma Reconstruction
Aside from aesthetic reasons, there are also a number of serious health and dental concerns that can arise from even a small amount of facial trauma. No facial injury should be taken lightly. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, respiration, speech, and swallowing may become greatly impaired.
Broken facial bones are generally treated in the emergency room, however damage to the teeth can be left untreated until the patient has had time to consult with a dentist. Failure to treat dental and facial trauma quickly can lead to many long term problems, including:
Loss of Functionality: Teeth that may become loose in their sockets and make eating and speaking difficult.
Smile Aesthetics: Chipped, broken, or missing teeth can seriously affect a patient’s self-esteem and confidence. The dentist is able to repair chips, fractures and missing teeth easily.
Bite/Jaw Irregularities: The poor alignment of the teeth due to trauma can lead to TMJ, uneven wear, and other complications.
What does correcting facial trauma involve?
If facial bones have been fractured or broken, they will need to be treated the same way as any other broken bone. However, a plaster cast cannot be applied to an area such as the cheekbone. In these cases, the bones can be held firmly together by either wiring, or the insertion of small plates and screws. Soft tissue lacerations will be treated immediately by suturing the wound closed.
In cases where a tooth has been knocked cleanly out of the mouth, there is still a possibility of reinsertion if done quickly. The faster a re-insertion can be performed by the dentist, the better chance the natural tooth has to survive. In the event that the tooth lacks the ligaments necessary for reinsertion, the dentist can implant a prosthetic tooth. The dentist can also splint displaced teeth by using structural supports, such as bonding, or wiring. The amount of success depends on the damage inflicted, and how much time has passed between the trauma and the treatment. Root canal therapy is also a possibility for loose or broken teeth.
Your dentist will conduct a thorough examination, and take various x-rays, in order to determine the precise condition of the area in order to come up with the best course of action needed for the specific injuries. Pain medication will be prescribed as necessary, and you’ll be given post treatment advice for your recovery.
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