What is maxillofacial trauma?
Maxillofacial trauma refers to any form of injury to the face or jaws. These include injury to the facial skin, nose, ears, eye sockets, cheekbones, jaw bones, or teeth. Facial trauma is one of the most common injuries presented to the emergency department due to the prominent position of the head and face during traumatic injuries.
Why should I seek treatment?
Maxillofacial trauma can cause severe pain and distress to patients. Brain injury, difficulty breathing, airway obstruction, and massive bleeding are but a few emergencies that can present after maxillofacial trauma.
Less severe but equally debilitating sequelae include malalignment of the jaws, loss of chewing function, disruption of facial contours, difficulty speaking, double vision, numbness of facial nerves, and facial scarring. Assessment and treatment should be sought immediately from an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or qualified trauma surgeon.
What are the treatment options?
Treatment options depend on the severity of the facial trauma, and treatment is often complex. Airway obstruction or massive bleeding will require emergency surgery to protect the airway and stop the bleeding. Soft tissue injuries such as facial lacerations and abrasions will need to be managed or stitched up.
Fracture of the facial bones may require surgery to fix the alignment of the bones, restore function, re-establish facial contours, and achieve good bite alignment. The jaws may have to be immobilized with elastic bands to aid healing. A soft diet is usually required post-operatively as well until recovery is complete.
Discuss with your surgeon to decide which treatment is best for you.
What to expect after treatment?
Patients will be reviewed periodically following treatment for maxillofacial trauma. A repeat x-ray or scan may be taken to assess the outcome of the treatment.
Reconstruction of post-traumatic defects may be required many months following the initial surgery. With appropriate training and skillset, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are uniquely equipped to restore facial aesthetic proportions, jaw function, and fix dental injuries.