Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained, skilled and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. 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.
Drs. Sarasin and Westlund meet and exceed these modern standards. They are trained, skilled, and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. They are on staff at local hospitals and deliver emergency room coverage for facial injuries, which include the following conditions:
- Facial lacerations
- Intra oral 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 including motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, interpersonal violence, and work-related injuries. Types of facial injuries can range from injuries of teeth to severe injuries of the skin and bones of the face.
Soft Tissue Injuries
When soft tissue injuries such as lacerations occur on the face, they are repaired by suturing. In addition to the obvious concern of providing a repair that yields the best cosmetic result possible, care is taken to inspect for and treat injuries to structures such as facial nerves, salivary glands, and salivary ducts (or outflow channels). Drs. Sarasin and Westlund are well-trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and are proficient at diagnosing and treating facial lacerations.
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, that include: location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, the age, and general health of the patient. When an arm or a leg is fractured, a cast is often applied to stabilize the bone to allow for proper healing. A cast cannot be placed on the face so other means have been developed to stabilize facial fractures.
One of these options involves wiring the jaws together for certain fractures of the upper and/or lower jaw. Other types of fractures of the jaw are best treated by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the involved site. This technique of treatment can often allow for healing without having the jaws wired together (rigid fixation). The development and use of rigid fixation has improved the recovery period for many patients, allowing them to return to normal function more quickly.
Injuries to the Teeth & Surrounding Dental Structures
Isolated injuries to teeth are quite common and may require the expertise of various dental specialists. Oral surgeons usually are involved in treating fractures in the supporting bone or 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 (stabilizing by wiring or bonding teeth together). If a tooth is knocked out, it should be placed in 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. Your dentist and other dental specialists may be called upon such as endodontists, who may be asked to perform root canal therapy, and additional care. In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants are often utilized as replacements for missing teeth.