Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are trained, skilled and uniquely qualified to manage and treat Facial Trauma. Dr. Delgado & Dr. Kuzmik are on staff at Reston Hospital and provide treatment for facial injuries including:
- Facial lacerations
- Intra oral lacerations
- Avulsed (knocked out) teeth
- Fractured facial bones (cheek, nose, or eye socket)
- Fractured jaws (upper and lower jaw)
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.
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 of teeth to extremely severe injuries of the skin and bones of the face. Typically, facial injuries are classified as either soft tissue injuries, bony injuries (fractures), injuries to the eyes, nerves or the salivary glands.
Soft Tissue Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region
Soft tissue injuries such as lacerations that occur on the face are usually repaired by suturing. Drs. Delgado & Kuzmik are trained to diagnose and treat lacerations in the oral and maxillofacial region.
Bone Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region
Fractures of the bones of the face are treated in a manner similar to the fractures in other parts of the body. The specific form of treatment is determined by various factors such as the location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, and the age and general health of the patient.
One of the treatments for fractures of the upper and lower jaws involves wiring the jaws together. 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. This technique is called “rigid fixation” of a fracture, which will allow the patient 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. The incisions that become necessary are designed to be small and are placed so that the scar is minimal. During the healing period the oral and maxillofacial surgeon will prescribe a nutritional liquid or pureed diet that will help the healing process by keeping the patient in good health.
Injuries to the Teeth and Surrounding Dental Structures
Isolated injuries to teeth are quite common and may require the expertise of various dental specialists. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons usually are involved in treating fractures of the supporting bone or in a re-implanting teeth which have been displaced or knocked out. These types of injuries are treated by stabilizing the teeth.
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 greater the chance for the survival of the tooth. Therefore, the patient should see a dentist or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon as soon as possible. Never attempt to wipe the tooth off, since remnants of the ligament which hold the tooth in the jaw are attached and are vital to the success of re-implanting the tooth.
Other dental specialists may be called upon such as an endodontist, who may be asked to perform root canal therapy, and/or a restorative dentist who may need to repair or rebuild fractured teeth. In the event that the injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants are often utilized as replacements for missing teeth.
Preventing Facial Trauma
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons encourage the use of seat belts, protective mouth guards, and appropriate masks or helmets for everyone who participates in athletic activities. Remember that you do not need to play a sport at a professional level to sustain trauma to the face, mouth and jaws.