Facial Trauma

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are trained to repair facial injuries, having completed Specialty Programs that immerse these Residents in emergency care, acute treatment, and long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation. These Specialists address a patient’s physical care, and emotional care as well. Injuries to the face, by their very nature, impart a high degree of emotional as well as physical trauma to patients. The art and science of treating these injuries requires special training, experience and an understanding of how the treatment provided will influence the patient’s long-term function and appearance.

Dr. Özcan meets and exceeds these standards, and is trained, skilled, and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. Dr. Özcan is on Staff at UHNBC (University Hospital of Northern British Columbia) and provides Emergency Room Coverage for facial injuries, which include the following conditions:

The Nature of Maxillofacial Trauma

There are a number of causes of facial trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, interpersonal violence, and work-related injuries. Types of facial injuries can range from injuries to the teeth to extremely severe injuries to the skin and bones of the face. Typically, facial injuries are classified as either soft tissue injuries (involving the skin and gums), bone injuries (fractures), or injuries to special regions (such as the eyes, facial nerves, or the salivary glands).

Soft Tissue Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region

When soft tissue injuries, such as lacerations, occur on the face, they are repaired by placing sutures. In addition to the obvious concern of providing a repair that yields the best cosmetic result possible, care is taken to inspect for and treat injuries to structures such as facial nerves, salivary glands, and salivary ducts (or outflow channels). Dr. Özcan, as a well-trained Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, is proficient at diagnosing and treating all types of facial lacerations.

Bone Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region

Fractures of the bones of the face are treated in a similar manner to fractures in other parts of the body. The specific form of treatment is determined by various factors, which include the location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, and the age and general health of the patient. When an arm or leg is fractured a cast is often applied to stabilize the bone to allow for proper healing. Since a cast cannot be placed on the face, other means have been developed to stabilize facial fractures.

One of these options involves wiring the jaws together for certain fractures of the upper and/or lower jaw. Other types of jaw fractures are best treated and stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the involved site. This method of treatment, while permitting healing, eliminates the necessity of having the jaws wired together. This technique is called “rigid fixation” of a fracture. The relatively recent development and use of rigid fixation has profoundly improved the recovery period for many patients, allowing them to return to normal function more quickly.

The treatment of facial fractures is accomplished in a thorough and predictable manner, and is planned such that the patient’s facial appearance is as minimally affected as is possible. An attempt at accessing the facial bones through the fewest incisions necessary is always made. At the same time, the incisions that become necessary are designed to be small and, whenever possible, are placed so that the resultant scar is hidden.

Injuries to the Teeth & Surrounding Dental Structures

Isolated injuries to the teeth are quite common and may require the expertise of various Dental Specialists. Before seeing a General Dentist or Specialist, if one has the misfortune of having a tooth knocked out of the mouth (referred to as “avulsed”) as a result of a traumatic injury, the avulsed tooth should be submerged in milk or salt water as soon as is possible. The tooth should never be wiped off prior to placing it in milk or salt water, as remnants of the ligament which hold the tooth in the jaw will be attached to the tooth, and are vital to the success of replanting the tooth in the mouth. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better the chance the tooth will survive. Therefore, the patient should see a Dentist or Oral Surgeon as soon as possible. Oral Surgeons are usually involved in treating fractures in the supporting bone, or in replanting teeth that have been displaced or knocked out. These types of injuries are treated by one of a number of forms of splinting (stabilizing by wiring or bonding teeth together). Other Dental Specialists may also need to be involved in the treatment of avulsed teeth, such as Endodontists, who may need to perform root canal therapy, and/or Restorative Dentists, who may need to repair or rebuild the fractured tooth/teeth. In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants serve as excellent replacements for missing teeth.

The proper treatment of facial injuries is now the realm of Specialists who are well trained in emergency care, acute treatment, long-term reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the patient.