Facial trauma refers to any injury to the mouth, teeth, jaws, or face. Many people experience some form of facial trauma in their lifetime, whether from a motor vehicle or bicycle accident, a fall, a sporting mishap, or some form of violence. Maxillofacial or oral surgeons specialize in treating these injuries and caring for people who have suffered facial trauma.
Some common signs of facial trauma are:
Soft Tissue Facial Injuries
These include lacerations, cuts, and other damage to the face and mouth. Soft tissue damage can be repaired by suturing and stitching. Your dental surgeon will also take care of your facial nerves, salivary glands, and salivary ducts to ensure the underlying structures of the face and mouth are healthy and prevent further complications.
Maxillofacial Bone Damage
Fractures to the facial bones, including the jaw, eye socket, cheek, and nose, are common signs of facial trauma. Whereas a bone fracture to the arm or leg can be stabilized using casts and slings, many oral surgeons stabilize facial fractures by carefully placing small plates and screws, which allow the injured bones to heal without the limitations of wiring.
Injuries to the Teeth
Another type of facial trauma are injuries to the teeth and jaws. If you have a tooth that has been knocked out or displaced or the supporting bone structure has fractured, an oral surgeon can help. If a tooth has been knocked out or has otherwise fallen out, you should soak the tooth in milk or saltwater and contact your dentist right away. Having the tooth reinserted by an oral surgeon as soon as possible increases its chance of survival.
When You Should See an Oral Surgeon
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consider talking to your dentist about seeing an oral surgeon:
- Swelling. Swelling in the gums, face, lymph nodes, or jaw could be an indicator of infection.
- Jaw joint problems. Pain, stiffness, locking, or popping around the jaw joint.
- Knocked out tooth. Including a wiggly tooth (in adults) or a tooth that suddenly fell out.
- Bleeding or aching gums. Regular bleeding of the gums when flossing or brushing.
- A growth or sore. A persistent growth or sore in the mouth that doesn’t heal.
- Pain. Intense pain radiating down the neck and into the ear, which may intensify when laying down.
- Extreme toothaches. Considerable tooth and jaw pain that is constant and severe.
If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms or have recently suffered a facial trauma, you should consider scheduling an appointment with an oral surgeon today.