Maxillofacial surgeons are highly trained and skilled physicians who deal with treating diseases and injuries to the mouth, jaw and facial areas, including hard and soft tissue regions. Maxillofacial surgery is a specialty and surgeons complete many years of education to become certified.
Minor and Major Facial Injury
There are many different types of facial injuries, but broken bones are among the most common. This can involve fractures of the upper or lower jaw, eye sockets, and cheekbones or in severe cases, a combination of facial bones. Serious cases often require the patient to be hospitalized in order to receive proper treatment and care.
The general approach to treating broken facial bones is much the same as treating broken bones in other areas of the body. The pieces of bone must be aligned and held firmly in place for an extended period to allow healing. In severe cases, sometimes wiring or plating is needed, which requires incisions and additional procedures.
Repositioning techniques utilized by maxillofacial surgeons will vary depending on the location of the fracture and the severity. A broken jaw may require metal braces, which are attached to the teeth with wires or bands holding the jaw tightly closed and in place. Patients that have very few teeth, or even no teeth, may require dentures or special splints designed to assist with aligning and securing a fracture.
If the jaws need to be wired shut, a maxillofacial surgeon will prescribe a special diet, which is designed to make the healing process faster and keep the patient healthy. Once discharged, the patient receives instructions from the oral surgeon on how to best continue the healing process and maintain oral health.
Obviously, prevention of injury is always best. To prevent injury, utilizing seat belts while traveling in a vehicle and using proper safety gear such as mouth guards, while involved in sports, is highly recommended. However, should an accident occur, a maxillofacial surgeon is always prepared to assist.