One of the most common facial injury type are fractures. Fractures may contain one of or a combination of lower jaw, upper jaw, palatal bones, malar bones, and eye socket bones. These injuries may effect sight, speech, respiration, and swallowing.The principles adopted in the treatment of facial injuries are the same as the ones applicable in the treatment of broken arms and legs. However different methods are developed in the stabilization of jaw-facial fractures – in order to align the bones and provide immobility. The pieces of the bone must be aligned (reduction) and immobilized just long enough to allow the bones to meld. This may take up to six weeks or longer depending on the age of the patient and the complexity of the fracture.
The technique used in realignment by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon depends on where the fracture is and the severity of the fracture. For instance, if the fracture is on the upper or lower jaw, metal brackets can be fastened to the teeth and braces can be used to keep the jaws together. The most efficient, successful and quick method of treatment is fastening the broken pieces together using small titanium plaques attached together by screws, once the broken lines of bones are put together. This method is called rigid fixation. The immobilization is ensured via these plaques and screws to the extent permitted by the jaws. This way the recovery is ensured, and the upper and the lower teeth of the patient can function without any connection problems between these parts.
Patients that has only a few teeth, or patients without teeth may need special splints or prosthesis in order to align or immobilize the fracture. Since facial injuries are caused by impacts to the head, the patient must first be checked for head traumas by either an emergency physician or a neurosurgeon and then must be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon without delay. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained to coordinate with other doctors to treat their patients.
What Must Be Done After A Jaw Trauma?
All impacts to the jaw area are considered head traumas, therefore the patient must first go to a hospital emergency that has a neurosurgeon at its disposal to eliminate any possible life-threatening situation.
If the patient was diagnosed as stable and confirmed to not have a life-threatening situation, and the emergency physician suspects a jaw fracture or the patient has a serious jaw asymmetry and pain, the patient should see a maxillofacial surgeon without delay.
The most important thing for a patient that was diagnosed with a jaw fracture is to treat the fracture immediately because of the fast scar tissue formation between the broken bone pieces – which in turn will prevent these pieces to be put back together in their original places. Thus the fractured jaw must be immobilized in its original form before the scar tissue formation within at least 2 days, otherwise this will either be impossible or an extra surgery will have to be made in order to put the fractured pieces together correctly.
The routine treatment protocol in today’s jaw fracture treatment concepts is to attach the lower and upper jaws together and fastening the broken bones together via osteo-synthesis plaques. The fracture lines which are fastened with the help of the plaques will heal within 6 weeks, while the bone will take 6 months to heal completely.
Liquefied food or puree will be prescribed for the patient during the treatment process when the jaws are shut with braces. This diet will support the healing process by keeping the overall health of the patient.
Never Underestimate Any Facial Injury!
Although not all of the facial injuries are major, all of these are complex injuries since they effect an area crucial for respiration, eating, speech, and sight. The expertise of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is needed even for a mild lip cut. If there’s a need for stitches, the procedure must be delicately done to accommodate the desired cosmetic outcome. Therefore the ground rule is to never underestimate any facial injury.
Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr. Erdem Kaya and his team routinely perform jaw fracture treatments and jaw fracture surgeries at Kuşadası Private Lotus Dental Clinic.