Facial Trauma: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Facial trauma, referred to by doctors as maxillofacial trauma, is arguably one of the most terrifying classifications of injury. With our sense of smell, vision, taste, hearing, and cognitive function all residing above the neckline, facial trauma can often cause injuries so severe that one or more of our most basic senses is painfully battered, partially impaired, or knocked offline completely. There are countless ways that facial trauma can occur, with the most common causes being violence, sports injuries, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, work accidents, warfare, and many others.

The Types of Injuries and Their Symptoms

Maxillofacial trauma can cause a long list of oftentimes horrifying injuries. Some of these include buns, moderate to severe lacerations, bruises, facial bone breaks or fractures, nasal fractures, jaw fractures, eye injuries, loss of teeth, and more. The severity of such injuries will almost always depend on the cause of the damage. With car and motorcycle accidents the facial injuries can easily be severe enough to be fatal, with multiple skull fractures, vision loss, severe lacerations, and blunt force trauma all being quite common. With sports injuries, the trauma is usually less severe and typically only includes nasal fractures, bruising, minor lacerations, and moderate bone fractures.

The Top 5 Types of Face Trauma and How Each is Typically Treated

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1. Facial Lacerations

Cuts on the face are one of the most common forms of facial injury. Due to the fact that there are many blood vessels on the face, these cuts can have a tendency to bleed quite profusely.

Treatment: If the laceration is small and not particularly deep, then it will probably be treated with a bandaid. If the cut is moderately deep then possible treatment would be a butterfly stitch, which is a bandaid meant to hold the cut closed. If the laceration is severe then it will almost certainly require stitches, staples, or medical glue to seal it closed.

2. Jaw Fractures or Breaks

Typically common in sports, automobile, and motorcycle accidents, jaw breaks, and fractures can be quite traumatic to anyone unfortunate enough to suffer such an injury. In addition to breaks and fractures, jaws can also be dislocated from the jaw joints, especially if the injury is extremely forceful such as in a motorcycle, football, or boxing accident.

Treatment: Jaw fractures are typically left to heal on their own, with some pain medications usually prescribed to the patient. Jaw breaks, on the other hand, typically require surgery to treat, procedures that often include wiring the break together and immobilizing the jaw completely to allow healing to occur. Jaw dislocations are treated by either manually putting the jaw back into place, or in cases where the joint is damaged, surgery is often required to put the bone back into its proper location.

3. Nasal Fractures

A common injury of sporting and automobile accidents, nasal fractures can be extremely painful injuries. They typically cause a profuse amount of blood loss and can affect a person’s ability to breathe or even see clearly. The fracture can be hidden beneath the nasal skin, or it can often include a compound fracture where the skin rips opens and exposes the cartilage underneath.

Treatment: The main treatment priority for a nasal fracture is to ensure that the bleeding stops. If a laceration occurs at the spot where the nasal fracture occurred then the person may need to have stitches to seal up the wound. If the fracture has caused any misalignment of the nasal bridge then a doctor may need to manually reset the position of it, a treatment option that can be extremely painful to endure.

4. Eye Injuries

Sport and work-related accidents are typically the main cause of eye injuries. Typically they only involve bruising around the tissue of the eye socket, however, they can severe enough that a person’s vision is damaged.

Treatment: Light to moderate eye injuries that only involve bruising of the soft tissue around the eye socket are typically treated with hot and cold packs. These hot and cold packs will reduce any swelling and minimize the inevitable bruising. Moderate to severe injuries to the eyes themselves will need to be immediately and thoroughly investigated by an optometrist in order to ensure that permanent loss of vision has not occurred.

5. Knocked Out Teeth

Another one of the most common forms of facial injury is knocked out teeth. Whether this is caused by a car accident or sports injury, losing one or several teeth in an accident can be quite traumatic.

Treatment: Stopping the bleeding and preventing infection is the first two treatment priorities when it comes to the loss of teeth. Once moderate healing has started, a dentist or dental surgeon will likely recommend installing tooth implants into the places where the original teeth were knocked out.

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