|Maxillofacial injuries also referred to as facial trauma, include any injury to the mouth, face and jaw. Millions of people sustain trauma to the head and face resulting in complex fractures which, if not correctly diagnosed and treated, may cause permanent functional and cosmetic deformities. Almost everyone has experienced such an injury, or knows someone who has.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are specifically trained and uniquely qualified to manage and treat maxillofacial trauma. They are a vital part of medical centers across the country. At the hospital, the individual will most likely be seen by several medical personnel, one of whom will probably be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. They provide coverage in nearly every emergency room and trauma center in the state. They step in where few other doctors specialize, facial reconstruction. In fact, Level 1 Trauma Centers must have oral and maxillofacial surgeons on call as in integral part of a trauma team. One of the most common types of serious injury to the face occurs when bones are broken. Fractures can involve the lower jaw, upper jaw, palate, nose, cheekbones, eye socket, forehead and combinations of these bones. These injuries can affect sight, and the ability to breathe, speak and swallow. Treatment often requires hospitalization. Many individuals who sustain facial fractures have other medical problems and the oral and maxillofacial surgeon is trained to coordinate your treatment with that of other medical specialists.
There are a number of possible causes of maxillofacial trauma including motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, interpersonal violence, and work related injuries. Types of facial injuries can range from teeth injuries to extensive injuries of the skin and facial bones. Typically, facial injuries are classified as soft tissue injuries (skin and gums), bone injuries (fractures), or injuries to special regions (such as the eyes, facial nerves or the salivary glands). Injuries to the face, by their very nature, impart a high degree of emotional and physical trauma to patients. The science and art of treating these injuries require special training involving experience and an understanding of how the treatment provided will influence the patient’s long term function and appearance. The oral & maxillofacial surgeon is called upon to repair and manage facial injuries including, but not limited to, facial and oral lacerations, avulsed (knocked out) teeth, fractured jaws, facial bones and orbit, head and neck trauma, treatment of gunshot wounds, explosions, dog bites, and motor vehicle crashes that affect the head and face.
Because avoiding injury is always best, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a staunch advocate of the use of automobile seat belts. For the same reason, the use of protective mouth guards, and appropriate masks and helmets for athletes is recommended. In the event a facial or mouth injury occurs that requires a trip to the emergency room, the injured athlete, his parent or coach should be sure to ask that an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is called for consultation. With their background and training, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the specialists most qualified to deal with these types of injuries. In some cases, they may even detect a "hidden" injury that might otherwise go unnoticed. The proper treatment of facial injuries is now the realm of specialists who are well versed in emergency care, acute treatment, long-term reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the patient. Treating these injuries will often influence the patient’s long-term appearance and function, so the highest level of expertise needed is indeed provided by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon.