Injuries to the face can impart a high degree of emotional and physical trauma. Dr. Hart’s training and additional experience treating soldiers wounded in combat enable him to provide high quality care to patients with oral and facial injuries.
The face and mouth are often injured following motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, or interpersonal violence. Facial trauma may involve soft tissue injuries (skin and gums), bone injuries (fractures), or injuries to special regions (such as the eyes, facial nerves or the salivary glands).
Soft Tissue Injuries:
Soft tissue injuries are generally repaired by suturing. The goal is to ensure the best cosmetic results and that your facial nerves, salivary glands, and salivary ducts are intact and functioning properly.
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, which include the 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. Since a cast cannot be placed on the face, other means have been developed to stabilize facial fractures.
A traditional treatment option for certain facial fractures is the wiring of the jaws together for approximately 4-6 weeks. Other types of facial fractures are best stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the involved site. This treatment, knows as rigid fixation, often prevents the need to wire the jaws together. The relatively recent development and use of rigid fixation has profoundly improved the recovery period for many patients, allowing them to return to normal function more quickly.
The treatment of facial fractures should be accomplished in a thorough and predictable manner. An attempt at accessing the facial bones through the fewest incisions necessary is always made. The necessary incisions are designed to be small and, whenever possible, are placed so that the resultant scar is hidden.
Injuries to Teeth
Isolated injuries to teeth are quite common and may require the expertise of various dental specialists. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons may be called on to treat fractures of the bone supporting the teeth or to replant 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 salt water or milk. Never attempt to wipe the tooth off, since remnants of the ligament that hold the tooth in the jaw are attached and are vital to the success of replanting the tooth. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the greater chance it will survive. Therefore, the patient should see a dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible. Other dental specialists may be called upon, such as endodontists, to complete root canal therapy, and/or restorative dentists to repair or rebuild fractured teeth. In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants are often utilized as replacements for missing teeth.