Oral and Facial Trauma

Treating Facial Injury

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, cheekbones, eye sockets, sinuses and combinations of these bones. These injuries can affect sight and the ability to breathe, speak and swallow. Treatment often requires hospitalization.

The principles for treating facial fractures are the same as for a broken arm or leg. The parts of the bone must be lined up (reduced) and held in position long enough to permit them time to heal. This may require six or more weeks depending on the patient's age and the fracture's complexity.

When maxillofacial fractures are complex or extensive, multiple incisions to expose the bones and a combination of wiring or plating techniques may be needed. The repositioning technique used by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon depends upon the location and severity of the fracture. In the case of a break in the upper or lower jaw, for example, metal braces may be fastened to the teeth and rubber bands or wires used to hold the jaws together. Patients with few or no teeth may need dentures or specially constructed splints to align and secure the fracture. Sometimes multiple reconstructive surgeries are necessary after the trauma.

During the healing period, when broken jaws are sometimes wired shut, Dr. Kahenasa prescribes a nutritional liquid or pureed diet, which will help the healing process by keeping the patient in good health. After discharge from the hospital, Dr. Kahenasa will continue to monitor you to assure that long term stability of your fractures is achieved.

Don't Treat Any Facial Injury Lightly

While not all facial injuries are extensive, they are all complex since they affect an area of the body that is critical to breathing, eating, speaking and seeing. In case of a skin laceration on the face, cut lip, or even cut gum tissue, Dr. Kahenasa is able to place delicate sutures with careful technique to help minimize scarring.

Prevention — The Best Policy

Because avoiding injury is always best, oral and maxillofacial surgeons advocate the use of automobile seat belts, protective mouth guards, and appropriate masks and helmets for everyone who participates in athletic pursuits at any level. You don't have to play at the professional level to sustain a serious head injury. New innovations in helmet and mouth and face guard technology have made these devices comfortable to wear and very effective in protecting the vulnerable maxillofacial area. Make sure your family is well-protected. If you play the sport, make the following safety gear part of your standard athletic equipment.

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