Maxillofacial injuries, also referred to as facial trauma, encompass injury to the mouth, face and jaws.  Most maxillofacial injuries are caused by a sports mishap, motor vehicle accident, act of violence or an accident in the home.  Facial injuries can include injury to the teeth, skin, and the bones of the face.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Treat Injuries to Teeth, Mouth, Jaws and Facial Structures

Professionals that deal with facial injuries must be well versed in emergency care, acute treatment, long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation.  An oral surgeon is trained and skilled in the physical as well as the emotional aspects of facial injury.  These types of injuries are physically traumatic, and can also result in a high degree of emotional trauma for the patient.  There is a science and an art to treating these injuries.  Children's and St. John Hospitals provide emergency room coverage for facial trauma injuries.

Soft Tissue Facial Injuries

Soft tissue injuries include lacerations to the face and intra oral lacerations.  These are repaired by suturing, or stitching.  Oral & Maxillofacial surgeons are trained to take care to obtain the best cosmetic results possible.

Bone Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region

Fractures of the facial bones (cheek, nose, eye socket, jaw) must be stabilized, much as any other bone in the body that has been fractured.  Rigid fixation is one method, whereby the jaws are stabilized by surgical placement of small plates and screws.  This allows for healing of the bone, and is not as restrictive as when the jaws are wired together. Wiring the jaws together is more restrictive, but is also another treatment option.

Your doctor will determine the best form of treatment for the injury, based upon the location of the fracture, the severity of the injury, age of the patient, and general health.  The ultimate goal is that the patient’s facial appearance is minimally affected.

Injuries to the Teeth

Injuries to the teeth and surrounding dental structures may require the expertise of several dental specialists.  Oral surgeons are involved when injuries include fractures in the supporting bone, or when teeth that have been displaced or knocked out need to be replanted.

Saving a Tooth

If a tooth is knocked out of it’s socket, it should be placed in milk or salt water.  The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the socket, the better the chances are that it will survive.  Never attempt to clean or wipe off the tooth.  Remnants of the ligament that hold the tooth in place may still be attached, and could be vital to the success of replacing the tooth.  When the tooth cannot be saved, dental implants can now be utilized as replacements for missing teeth.